If Tiger Woods’ PGA Tour series is to golf games what Gran Turismo is to driving games, then Super Swing Golf is its Super Mario Kart. Coming from the somewhat touched minds of Ntreev Soft and Tecmo, this is an anime golfing adventure full of power-ups, pimped-out outfits and impossible shots. A far cry from the straight-laced style of its competition, can this bright ‘n’ breezy romp knock Tiger’s hole-in-one series out of bounds? Does that even make sense? We hope so, here’s our Super Swing Golf review.
There once was a game called PangYa, a casual golf freeware game cooked up in Korea. Super Swing Golf Wii is based on this downloadable treasure, although obviously the control system has been rehauled to fit a Wii rather than a PC. Anyone expecting a realistic game of golf should step away, as just one peek at the aesthetics will reveal a bizarre cat/teddy bear/paper bag monster caddy, a couple of wizards and some ninja. It all looks very good, if striking bold greens and a liberal rainstorm of kawaii float your boat. A look this surreal deserves an equally bizarre soundtrack, so be prepared for one too many bouncy muzak tracks to bop to while you’re on the course.
Luckily, the gameplay has its feet very firmly on the ground. Structured around two parallel control systems – one is similar to that used by Wii Sports’ golf game, requiring the player to pretend his Wii Remote is a Nine Iron, while the other relies on your speed and reactions when it comes to button pressing. Whichever’s your poison, both systems work perfectly well, and the game sticks to the traditional golf game theory that your first action – be it swing or button press – dictates the strength of your swing while the second controls its accuracy. Nothing unusual there.
After stomaching the wordy and poorly structured training session, it’s a good idea to take Scout or Hana (the generic ‘Boy’ and ‘Girl’ characters) for a few practice holes. Sunny, chirpy environments abound, and there are some surreal fantasy holes, but this is mostly proper golf. The big gimmick and the thing to look out for is currency collection. Churning out Birdies and accurate ‘PangYa!’ shots earns you cash, in the form of Pang, which you can use to kit yourself out in flash duds or fancy golfing paraphernalia. Sadly, there’s no option to buy a golf cart, so eager fans will have to wait for the continually delayed Wii Golf Cart sim to hit stores. More money can be earned via the minigames. Popping balloons and such. All golf games must have stupid minigames. It’s the golf law. Damn, this muzak is annoying.
The bulk of the game is to be found in the Tour Mode, a delightful story adventure which sees you take on the PangYa island one area at a time. Follow the map from stage to stage (the map, by the way, is similar to that used by New Super Mario Bros), playing competitively with the island’s residents, until you reach the area’s boss. That’s right. This golf game has bosses. And a flying dolphin. And that’s without mentioning the half-naked witch tour guide’s casual declaration that she has “invited beings from another dimension” to the tournament. Oh sure, Glamour Witch, that’s fine. Whatever.
Like most anime-related products, there’s a lot of waffle and an obsessive amount of background information here, but none of the cut-scenes waffle on for too long or go out of their way to melt your brain. One of the caddies even hilariously asks “What was THAT?” when you mess up a shot. Sure, it’s all very bonkers, but beneath the exterior is a very impressive golf game. Super Swing Golf does not shirk on its responsibilities to do golf justice, with the game engine being surprisingly mature and well-crafted. In fact, its smorgasbord cast might prove to be a more palatable alternative to the crispy dryness of the more traditional sims, making it the most accessible example of the genre on the market.
Purists will shirk the Korean golfing madness, but if you’re not obsessive about realistic play, this will be more than enough for you. In fact, there’s very little to fault Super Swing Golf on. The Tour Mode will keep you going for quite some time, while the dual control methods mean that joining in on the multiplayer will be a cinch for anyone. Dressing up the characters and the picturesque courses will appeal to casual gamers, the hardcore design will attract more dedicated players. It’s obvious that a lot of attention has been paid to the design of this game, and that’s what makes playing it such a joy. This is definitely a shining example of how to make good, high quality sports game fun. Just turn off the damn music. 8 out of 10.
Related: Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 review