Pangya! Golf With Style - known to U and SA as Super Swing Golf - is due out on 8th June, Nintendo announced this morning.
I must begin, in the manner of Dave McCarthy, by declaring an interest. Super Swing Golf is an adaptation of a fantasy golf MMO called Albatross18 (or Pangya in Japan and Korea) - a game to which I have been harbouring a substantial addiction for the better part of six months. Pangya is freely downloadable and free to play on the PC, but they sucker you out of your money by plunging you into an insanely bright, colourful world populated entirely by people who are much, much better than you. Want to stop losing so embarrassingly often? Better buy yourself a better character, then, or a nicer hat, or prettier gloves, or more advanced equipment, or a caddy, and so on and so on until you’re sitting there in your socks and underpants having sold all your worldy possessions in order to kit out a cutesy virtual golfer, whose incessant V-popping (the peace sign, not Viagra) and gleeful dancing soon begin to take on an air of mockery.
Pangya is all about making your character your own, and the actual game of golf itself becomes almost secondary - essentially, playing the courses becomes little more than a way to earn in-game currency, which can be used to pay off caddies or buy some of the more mundane items. Super Swing Golf, by contrast, strips away all of the online aspects and most of the character customization, leaving us with what would be a really very normal golf game were it not for the extreme silliness of the setting - and, of course, its as-yet-unique control system. You have to swing like a golfer (albeit a rather slow one), with a consistent and even swing at a 45 degree angle, in order to hit a perfect shot; it takes quite some getting used to, but impatient killjoys can always switch to button control. Birdies, decent shots and risky chip-ins are rewarded with Pang Points, which are used to buy stat-boosting equipment in the shop, which enjoys a constant influx of new items - but unlike in PC Pangya, the only way to test out your souped-up character is against the AI, which is considerably less rewarding to beat than another human player.
The single-player modes consist of Pangya Festa, which is an enjoyably nonsensical story mode, and straightforward Match and Stroke against the AI. Demonstrably, this lacks imagination, but the setting amply makes up for it. The courses are pleasingly varied, littered with obstacles from windmill blades to ice floes and cannons to strategically-placed signs designed to mess up particularly risky shots. These courses have been played thousands of times online, and consequently they are extraordinarily well-tailored to the player, full of clever shortcuts and get-arounds that reward risks with super-long runs, advantageous lies and, of course, the all-important Pang Points. Super Swing Golf’s courses are easily its highlight, but equally, they are to some extent designed for showing off - in single-player, there are no real competitors or ostentatious players to goad you into taking that enormously risky shot, and there’s no taunting or heckling to prevent you from playing over-conservatively.
Tecmo has confirmed its support for the Nintendo Revolution, announcing that a new instalment in the Pangya golf series will appear on the console.
The first Pangya title, which was developed by Korean developer Ntreev Soft, is an online golf game for the PC. Players are not required to pay a monthly fee, but must cough up to acquire better items in the game.
The Revolution version, which is tentatively titled Sukatto Golf Pangya Revolution, is set to launch on the same day as the console - whenever that may be. Tecmo has not revealed whether or not the game will feature an online element, or if it will make use of the freestyle controller, but both prospects seem likely.