Super Swing Golf Review
I remember playing golf games on the computer from the days of my Tandy 1000 SX. We didn’t have a hard drive and only had one 5 ¼ drive on the system. We did have a shareware golf game called Mean 18 though. It was a blast – sure, I wasn’t that good but it was fun to play. Hit the button to start the swing, hit it again to set the power then a third time to set the accuracy – a formula that seems to be very common still in golf games today. Later, I’d pick up another one, Fuji Golf, when we got our first Pentium-based computer.
Over time, I’d play many more golf games, some much more realistic than the others. None really captured my attention until I tried Hot Shots Golf on the PSP, though. The game was cartoony but the courses were fun and well designed while still maintaining a small sense of realism (unlike some of the Mario Golf games). The characters were very upgradeable and had tons of different outfits. Overall, the game was damned fun to play and it was one of the reasons I wanted to keep the first PSP that I bought. Little did I know that Tecmo would capitalize on the popularity of this style of golf game and work with a little-known company, Ntreev, to bring their MMO Golf (Albatross 18) to Nintendo’s Wii.
Super Swing Golf really is a version of Albatross 18 made for consoles. If you’ve ever played that online game, you’ll recognize the characters, a lot of the outfit options and some of the Phoenixes (the game’s fancy name for golf balls). However, the Wii game is thankfully redone in some ways that bring an appeal to a much wider audience – it doesn’t take forever to make money, characters are unlocked far easier and, most importantly, there is a new control scheme added in.
The controls are the biggest reason to take a look at picking up this game – being on the Wii, Super Swing is expected to make full use of the Wiimote and it does. However, it does so in a way that may seem a bit off to some people that have played Wii Golf. In Super Swing Golf, you’ll hit the shot button on screen to start the swinging process. Before you start the swing mode, though, you need to make sure that your shot is going to go where you want it to. Hitting the 1 button cycles through a few different views where you can move the camera around to get a good look at where your shot will go and the obstacles around it. You’ll see a line on the screen that goes out varying distances based on the club and how far away the hole is from your current position. One thing that was slightly tricky was the final length indicator – this isn’t where the ball will bounce first but where it will end up after the shot. This gets to be an issue on levels where there are islands to shoot between. You’ll eventually catch on, though.
After you switch to shot mode, your club and shot direction are ‘locked in’ – you can hit the minus button if you realize you need to change this, though. This is where the game’s two different control options move away from each other. If you’re using swing mode, you’ll treat this like a real golf game. Swing the club back to the position where you’d hold a normal golf club and then hit the A button. After that, you just swing the club as hard and straight as you can – swinging off to the side or turning the Wiimote will send your shot off the planned route, often sending it into the water or out of bounds. While this motion pickup did work most of the time, there were points where it seemed to have some issues properly picking stuff up. The other option, button control, requires you to use different button inputs while swinging to accomplish super shots (you just select them in swing mode). However, to swing the club, you just hit the B button to start the wing, select the power and determine the accuracy. While I did enjoy the swing mode, the computer plays near-perfectly and I had to resort to using the button controls most of the time to get anywhere in the game. Playing multiplayer is where the swing controls really shine – the introduction of human error with each of your opponents makes using the swing controls far less of a daunting task and makes them much more enjoyable.
The computer’s incredible skill is my biggest problem with this game, too. While most golf games do have strong opponents near the end of the game, they’ll still make some mistakes. The computer opponents in Super Swing, though, only make the very rare mistake. While this isn’t that bad later in the game, even the early opponents can be difficult, requiring you to replay the stage multiple times. What’s even stranger is that, sometimes, the computer opponent will seem horribly dumb – they’ll hit the ball out of bounds and in the water hazard at least once a hole and, in essence, make the game entirely too easy. These are the exact same opponents that, on the previous try of the match, would make such precise shots. The difficulty really needs to sit in a middle ground here and slightly raise as you play through the game instead of staying at such a high level from the beginning.
Also appearing in the game is a wide variety of character customization. You can buy new (and wild looking) sets of clubs, tons of character outfits and new phoenixes. There are multiple characters to choose from but you’ll have to unlock them by playing through the PangYa Festa mode. PangYa Festa is the game’s story mode where you’ll face five different opponents, playing games of varying length against them in Match Play. For the uninitiated, Match Play doesn’t look at your overall score but instead focuses on who wins each hole. Each of the matches will probably take a few tries to finally get through and, while the story just feels like an excuse to get you to play through a series of matches, it does have its moments of hilarity.
The graphics bring up another issue with this game – it doesn’t natively support widescreen televisions like a lot of the current Wii games do. That leads to the graphics being stretched out on the screen and not looking as crisp as they should over the component cables. While it isn’t a major issue, it can be aggravating to those that are using Widescreen TVs. The courses are nicely themed and very colorful, however, helping to push the game’s more upbeat feel. The sound also is in-line with the overall feel – it is very peppy and just fun.
Overall, Super Swing Golf is a fun game with a couple of issues that need to be worked out. Firstly, there needs to be a way to adjust the computer’s level of perfection to make swing mode usable outside of multiplayer games. Also, if there is indeed a second installment, I’d love to see proper widescreen support for the game. While the game isn’t perfect by any means, it is far more entertaining than the simplistic golf game included with the system and is a worthwhile pickup if you enjoyed what you saw in Wii Sports.