IGN Review of Super Swing Golf
When we first heard that Super Swing Golf (formally known as Pangya Golf) was headed to Wii, we were both excited and a little skeptical as to how the game would present itself on the Nintendo platform. For starters, a golf game requires a ton of fine-tuning to the control, and time is something that launch games have working against them. In addition, Super Swing Golf got a huge bump in the gaming community for its support of online play and course-building modes back on PC. Players could jump on the net, play friend, and share created courses in what ended up being a virtually everlasting arcade golf experience. On Wii, players won't be getting any build-a-course or online functionality, as it seems Nintendo is still working out the kinks for its online plan. Bust despite the loss of net support, does Super Swing Golf still shape up to be an entertaining alternative to Wii Sports? It really seems to depend on who you ask. There are - quite frankly - a few things the game does right, and a few things it does very wrong.
Since Super Swing Golf lands on the extreme edge of the golf spectrum (right up there with Hot Shots Golf and Mario Golf), there's a certain "understanding" that has to be made between the player and game. For starters, you're going to see a floating paper bag of chibi-goodness chasing your ball all around the fairway: That's normal, and he's actually your caddie. Your player's head is going to be roughly 1/3 the size of the rest of his/her body. Again, that's normal. Finally, when you pull off a great shot or sink that winning putt, coins are going to start popping out of random places. Again, to you we say, that's normal. Super Swing Golf is all about getting the lighthearted, arcade fun of like-minded golf designs, and throwing in a bit more customization and style into the mix. You'll be nailing shots between floating islands, over levitating pyramids, or across snow-covered plains, and you'll either love it or hate it.
And though the style itself may be enough to either bring players in or shove them away, the real test is going to come with control. The initial shock to most players - the game doesn't play like Wii Sports Golf, and whether you like it or not may depend almost entirely on the swing mechanic. In games like Wii Sports Golf you'll point the controller at the ground, address the virtual ball, take a few practice swings, and then whack the tiny sphere with a fluid, realistic stroke. In Super Swing the game controls a bit differently, but it's also more precise when dealing with the finer points of a golf swing. You'll stand up to address the ball, pull your arms up for the backswing, and then hold. As you ready your backswing you'll actually see the distance marker (that looks like it was taken almost directly from Hot Shots Golf or Mario Golf) rise up the bar. Depending on how you move your backswing (higher or lower), you can actually manipulate the intended distance for as long as you want pre-swing. If, for example, you're going for a 112 yd. nine iron shot, you can fine-tune that slider-bar until you're sitting right at 112 yards. Perfect shot, right?
Wrong. Here's where Super Swing sacrifices the fluidity of a golf swing for a more accurate read-out of your motion and follow-through. When ready you'll hold the A button, which locks the intended distance into place, and then make your swing. Based on the speed, angle, and follow-through of your shot the game will provide a hook or slice on the ball, and hit it a distance that's either shorter or farther than your intended point if you in fact swung too soft or strong. As of right now the line has been officially drawn. You'll either hate the control and be wishing you had your cash back, or you'll defend Super Swing to the death. It's really just a matter of taste.
When dealing with the swing mechanic specifically though, there are a few things that need to be clarified. While the control works well during a natural swing, there is definitely a way to cheat. Since the swing is really measured by the angle of the remote and the speed from point A to point B, you can twist your wrist to simulate a backswing, hold the A button to begin your swing, and then flick your wrist very quickly back to its starting position. After a few tries most people will be able to successfully hit a "Pangya" super-shot every time, as the game believes you just achieved a perfectly straight golf swing (and maybe you're just a very tiny man with an arm-reach of only a few inches, right). If you're going to play Super Swing Golf, just know some jackass can sit down next to you, act "too cool" to play the game the right way, and ace you ever shot. It's weak, it's a shame, but we're seeing it more and more with Wii games. Either you play by the rules or you start breaking the game.
Stepping away from the swing control (yes it's the most important aspect of the game, but there's more to tell), Super Swing has a ton of aspects of presentation that need to be addressed. First of all, the game makes a solid use of the Wii pointer, as all the menus, on-screen actions, and player customization is done via the IR sensor. Using the Wii-mote to navigate the playfield can take a bit of practice, but is ultimately a very smooth experience, as players can hold the B trigger and literally stab in or pull back to zoom over the fairway in a flyby, lift the remote up slightly to raise the camera into the sky, or push down to get lower to the ground. In addition, actions like setting the spin on the ball or deciding to do a Super Swing shot is also done with the IR pointer, clicking on-screen icons.
Where the game acts a bit wonky, however, is in the button layout. Since the entire game is played with only the Wii-mote, it actually makes heavy use of the 1 and 2 buttons in addition to the - key (used as a back button) and +. Along those same lines, actually changing options on-screen will often be done with a button rather than the pointer, so while clicking into ball spin control is done with the pointer, actually determining how the ball spins is done with the d-pad. Everyone that picked up the game around our office had the same awkwardness when trying to manipulate the game for the first time. Some of the buttons are hard to reach and unnatural, and a times the game isn't as intuitive as it could be. That being said, those same people wouldn't give back the controller after a few minutes of control coaching either.
Unfortunately, the audio/visual presentation isn't too hot for Super Swing Golf, and it'll end up being a serious downside to the game for some players. No 480p or 16:9 support has been included, so you'll be playing a game that has the on-screen presence of a mid-gen GameCube game rather than a true next-gen experience. On top of that, the overall style doesn't have the sleek look that something like Wii Sports Golf has, and when looking at the games side-by-side it's almost a joke that Wii Golf (only a part of a free pack-in) absolutely demolishes the Super Swing presentation. The greens look freshly cut, the trees and water have true life to them, and the world looks truly living in a game like Wii Sports Gof. Super Swing may have solid control, but it drops the ball visually. As far as the audio goes, there isn't a ton to go from aside from few elevator muic tracks (though they do grow on you in an odd way
) and some very limited VO.
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