After playing my first round of Wii Sports golf I couldn’t wait for a developer to make a golf simulator for the system. I’m a huge fan of the Tiger Woods and Links series and an actual real-life golfer and the possibility of getting a solid golf sim on the Wii was quite exciting. Until then, I’ll have to make due with Super Swing Golf.
The primary thing that makes Super Swing Golf practically unplayable is the swing controls. If you’re going to put out a golf sim you’d better made sure your swing mechanics are rock solid. I don’t care that it’s a pseudo-rpg. I don’t care about the cutesy graphics and plot. I don’t care about fantasy courses. I want to swing my Wiimote like a real golf club and get real club-like results.
Sadly, this isn’t the game for that. In order to even get ready to hit the ball the player has to zoom out to view the course, select a club and spot to aim for, exit that view, return to the swing camera, use the Wiimote to hit a small “Swing” button on the left of the screen and then pretend to address the ball. That’s way too many steps and it causes the game to grind to a halt, especially in multiplayer mode. We’re talking twenty to twenty-five minutes a hole after everything is said and done in a four person game. The furthest we ever made it was five holes.
Once you address the ball the game would like you to believe that you need to know how to properly swing a golf club in real life in order to hit well in the game, which is absolutely not true. You start to move the Wiimote into your backswing and the farther back you pull the more your distance meter fills up. At the end of your backswing you have to hit the A button and then follow through to hit the ball. Sounds smooth enough until you realize that you don’t need any rhythm to your swing at all. As a matter of fact, trying to produce proper swing cadence (which is where all of the power comes from in a golf swing) made my shots worse. I found myself slowly drawing the club back until I filled the meter, letting it hang in the air until I pressed the A button, and then swinging my arm forward at the screen. It seems to have more in common with an archery game than a golf game at this point.
Putting was also a disaster. Instead of the genre norm grid lines and arrows to show you the slope and pitch of the green they use an odd system of boxes and dots. You then have to figure out the angle per box and adjust your shot from there. The power meter is helpfully highlighted to let you know where you’ll need to pull your backswing to, again leading to shots that involve a lot of slow movements and tweaking until your meter is in the right place before starting the stroke. Never did I feel like I was swinging an actual club. The swing controls in Wii Sports Golf were practically virtual reality compared to this.
Take slow, unresponsive controls and frustrating putting and add to that cheap as hell AI during versus matches and you’ve got the rest of the single player experience. More than a few times in match play against the computer I would be up by a couple of strokes going into the last few holes and my opponent would start sinking 150 yard iron shots for double eagles. With swing control so wonky, you could be perfect for the first hour’s worth of play only to lose on the last hole because you missed a six foot putt. Never has a game that offered so little gotten me so angry. Sure, there’s a plot (in a golf game?) and all kinds of gear and clothes to purchase for your strangely feminine golf wonderboy, but I really didn’t care.
Multiplayer is more of the same, but at least your friends will have as difficult a time as you do, making for fairly even play. There’s an ability to unlock and equip special items you can use to distract your opponent, like a magic marker you can draw on the screen with to obstruct their view during a swing, all of which lead to angry opponents. It’s hard enough to play when you can see the screen, so you look like a dick if you break out an item like that repeatedly.
Still, the time it takes to play a game with even two people is way beyond even that of real-life golf, which can take hours in its own right, so I don’t see this being some sort of party game or anything.
Graphically the game looks ok. GameCube quality visuals, interesting course design, strange characters … that’s pretty much it. I’m not a huge anime fan so anthropomorphic animal caddies do nothing for me. The music was entertaining enough as was the course design. Again, though, I don’t need to golf on top of submarines so I think some of the game’s draw was lost on me.
All in all, a really disappointing game. I wasn’t expecting much after seeing the ads and reading about it in Nintendo Power, but I at least thought it would be a passable golf sim. Also, I can’t see paying any money for this game once I found out it’s free on the PC (known as Albatross 18 or PangYa! in Asia). Granted, you wouldn’t have the motion sensitive controls like on the Wii … but that may be a good thing.