Release Date: December 11, 2007
Golf games and the Wii go together like electronic peanut butter and jelly. When the Wiimote was first unveiled, discussion almost immediately turned to how the controller would be great for sports games, and golf in particular. Thus far, the formula remains imperfect, with would-be duffers struggling to find just the right combination of distance, speed and torque to get that perfect swing. Now, into the fray jumps Super Swing Golf: Season 2 in an attempt to lay claim to the title of the best golf game on the Wii. And you know what, it may just be.
The game is set on PangYa Island, a mystical land that every year plays host to a variety of golf tournaments. The title draws its inspiration from the popular PangYa online series that originated in Korea. These free-to-play titles have never quite caught on in the U.S., though there are a few pockets of players here and there. All the characters and plots of the console game are lifted from the online series, but don't worry too much about not knowing what's going on. It's golf; you hit the ball into the hole with as few strokes as possible. There, I just summarized all the plot you need to know.
The game features an impressive lineup of characters, with eight playable golfers and eight caddies to pair up with them. There are also oodles of clothes, clubs, balls and accessories you can purchase using the "Pang" you earn for good shots and low scores. Like most other golf titles, the merchandise you purchase improves your attributes (power, control and spin for this game), and the sheer volume of available stuff means that you'll be able to create the golfer of your dreams. The only thing that doesn't quite make sense about the unlock system is that oftentimes, you'll be rewarded with golfers or items that are not as good as your current equipment. It's a bit disheartening to unlock a new set of clothes and head to the clubhouse to check them out just to find that it's worse than what you're already using.
One interesting development decision is that Super Swing is almost exclusively focused on the single-player experience. You can tackle Versus mode, where you play the CPU in either stroke or match play, or you can jump into Tour mode, where you complete events, take on bosses and unlock new courses. Each mode offers a surprising amount of depth, with the Tour mode alone clocking in at around 20 hours if you tackle all of the challenges.
The single-player modes offer a decent challenge, especially in the Tour mode. Most opponents will consistently play for par on every hole, with the occasional lucky shot or horrible lapse in judgment. However, as you reach the late levels, your foes become noticeably tougher, and those looking for a challenge won't be disappointed.
You'll need this single-player depth, though, as the multiplayer offerings are meager, and online play is nonexistent. Up to four players can tackle a driving contest, or Darts or Balloon Pop modes. Darts is an accuracy challenge, where you attempt to land your shots as close to the pin as possible, while Balloon Pop is just what it sounds like; you pop balloons scattered around the course for points, with larger balloons being worth more. Unfortunately, most games in this generation seem to be geared toward either single-player or multiplayer, with one mode taking a significant backseat to the other. This title is a single-player affair, with other options seemingly added just in case someone got the crazy idea that this could be a party title.
When I popped the game in for the first time, I was very excited to try out the swing mechanic. However, it seemed no matter where I stood or how I held the Wiimote, I could never get a consistent swing. I get the distinct impression that if my living room were a bit larger and I had some more space, I might be able to perfect my swing, but right now my shots look like what happens when I venture onto an actual golf course.
For most golf games, difficult controls would be a death sentence, but Super Swing foresaw these issues and handles them admirably. Firstly, you are granted the "Lucky Club" set from the game's outset, and with these clubs, all your shots will go perfectly straight regardless of how badly you butcher your swing. Of course, you trade this convenience for clubs that are seriously lacking in power, but they're a great compromise if you want to maintain a realistic swing mechanic without dealing with the frustration of botched shots.
Those who don't particularly care about swinging the controller, or who want to use the better clubs without sacrificing control can switch over to the more traditional three-click button controls. While it may not be quite as fulfilling to push a button as it is to actually take a swing, I actually preferred the button controls, as they allowed me to take more aggressive shots without worrying about where the ball was going to land. Kudos to the developers for creating a system that has something for everyone; if only every golf title would take the same track.
The graphics and style of Super Swing are anime through and through, and you'll definitely know this is a Tecmo game the first time you see one of the female characters in her short skirt and low-cut top. Parents shouldn't be surprised if their teenagers really enjoy playing this game as either Cecilia or Arin, and if said characters always seem to be dressed in swimsuits.
Aside from the characters, most of the environments are fanciful and exotic. While you'll start with the traditional, tropical course, you'll soon find yourself playing on high mountains, in a frozen naval battlefield and on what can best be described as a penguin spa. All of the courses are truly inspired, and finding ways to utilize the environment to your benefit (or detriment, if you aren't careful) is an absolute joy. There are really no "bad" courses in the game, and each provides its own challenge. While the courses become laughably easy after you power up in most golf titles, that is not the case here. No matter how much you juice your characters and your clubs, you'll still be contemplating every shot in order to carry a water hazard or get around a well-placed tree.
The game's music is very cute and strangely catchy. It's just so light and pop-flavored that you really can't help but stop mid-round and dance. The voice acting is a much weaker link, not because it is bad, but because it's repetitive. Each character spouts out the exact same line every time he or she tees up, and the caddies who accompany you only seem to have about five or six sayings of their own. It's too bad that a game that does so much right would stumble in this aspect, but it doesn't hurt the overall experience much at all.
I feel confident in saying that Super Swing Golf: Season 2 is by far the best golf title on the Wii. While the game doesn't really break any new ground, its execution is nearly flawless. Besides, how much new ground can you break in a golf title? The only viable issues are the paltry multiplayer, the lack of any sort of online mode, and less than admirable voice acting. However, these problems are offset by amazing course design, an incredibly deep single-player experience, and a very forgiving and accommodating control scheme. In all honesty, there is no reason for any golf fan who owns a Wii to miss this game.