Hole in fun!
As the rest of the world posts and blogs about the console wars, we’re busy here trying to help you determine the best way to game for your buck, because at the end of the day we want you to have some fun, and be able to buy a beer while you’re at it. Many of the next-gen titles merely hint at the greatness to come, and as the games start rolling in, it’s hard to make sure you’ve got all your bases covered.
Although the Wii is packaged with a decent little golf game in Wii Sports, Super Swing Golf’s control, style, and content are more along the lines of what you’d expect from a full-price game. However, its substance isn’t completely original, the game is based on a free, online golf game called Albatross 18 for the PC, or Pangya to the rest of the world.
[image1]What Super Swing Golf has going for it is as obvious as the difference between a keyboard and the Wiimote. You can use button presses to dictate shots, but by default you literally use the Wiimote as the club. Although the backswing mechanic is a little funky, based more on the angle of the controller than its position in the air, when you actually hit the ball, the Wii senses any twist in your wrists, treating the side of the controller like the face of the club, hooking and slicing accordingly. What’s great is working on your shot in a tangible, bodily way instead of worrying about timing and thumb-stick precision.
When you swing accurately enough, the screen exclaims “PANGYA” in huge rainbow letters, rewarding you with Pang, which is the currency in this Candy Land for golfers. Solid play nets you pang- birdies, long drives, approaches, long putts- and there’s subsequently a ton of gear to buy for each of the ten or so characters. Building up Pang in a match also lets you drive farther with power shots and ‘special moves’ that make the ball behave a certain way, like flying underneath heavy winds or landing hard and not rolling. These are some active benefits to the system, providing nice variety for a game as inherently repetitive as golf.
Pangya Island is a strange place. In Pangya Festa (story) mode, you learn that a mysterious hero shot a magic ball through a hole in an evil force field to save the island years ago, and now you play golf to celebrate. Toss in a paper bag-cat for a caddie, baseball bats and plungers for clubs, boxing gloves, an aircraft carrier, cowboy hats, and a teleporting fairy, and you’ve got a fully stocked pro shop of crazy. The cutesy, wacky style might dissuade people who, say, play golf in real life, but to the rest of us, it’s fun.
[image2]But for those guys out on the course all day, the pacing will be mighty familiar: it recalls a traditional golf game by being really slow. You aren’t able to skip or fast forward any of your opponent’s shots, and when a lot of them roll slowly for fifty yards, that time adds up really fast. It’s no deal breaker, but occasional camera glitches (you only think you know what a worm’s eye view looks like) make waiting on shots even less enjoyable.
Then again, when you’re hanging out waiting for your turn, you can at least listen to the great music, which has a catchy and silly elevator/lounge quality to it. It fits well with the environments, where holes sport cartoon windmills, houses, and even giant battleships. While the graphics aren’t the most detailed, the fantasy-themed course design is well varied, with many different types of holes requiring different strategies. The battleship level, for instance, has giant fans mounted around the course that can make or break your shot, depending on how you use them.
The single-player game lets you go up against the computer in Stroke and Match play as well as Festa mode, but the computer tends to be pretty much awesome most of the time, which can be frustrating when you lose a match that takes forty five minutes to complete.
[image3]Thankfully, the multiplayer modes are pretty sweet. You can go with Stroke and Match play here as well, with up to four people using a single Wiimote and taking turns. Unfortunately, the best multiplayer mode requires a controller for each player, but not without good reason.
Balloon Pop has you aim shots through giant clusters of balloons to rack up points, and some of the balloons contain power ups that boost your shot distance or accuracy, as well as some…interactive ones that come into play when other people are shooting. If someone has the crayon, for instance, they can draw all over your screen while you try to shoot, or the ‘Vibrating Teaser’ (no joke), which vibrates the shooter’s Wiimote at your behest. It’s unsettling to say the least.
Like most of the other multiplayer Wii games, yelling and laughing abound. It is a bummer that Super Swing Golf can’t get online like Albatross 18. It would’ve been sweet to draw on someone’s screen from across town.
It might look childishly simple, but Super Swing Golf has great control and a ton of courses and content to offer. So many launch titles offer interesting controls and minimal longevity, but this is a club you can swing well into next year.