We Love Golf
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Super Swing Golf Season 2 lands in the UK (courtesy of Rising Star Games), the follow up to Europe's PangYa Golf. Despite a confusing name change they prove that cartoony graphics don't mean poor controls. Temco firmly grasp the nettle and deliver a solid real golf swing mechanic that will give Tiger Woods a run for its money.
As I have said elsewhere, golf games used to be all about the look of the fairway, the run of the ball on the green, the pre-hole camera fly throughs and even the chirping of localised birdsong as you eyed up your shot. These days however, I have been realising that (particularly on the Wii) they are all about the swing mechanic.
To release a golf game on the Wii is to live in light of Nintendo's Wii-Sports master class in the golf swing mechanic. Happily, Temco have understood this and sought to extend and enhance the experience rather than stick ridgedly to the older trigger point controls seen in the surprisingly mediocre We Love Golf from Camelot.
As its name suggest then, Super Swing Golf joins Wii-Sports Golf and Tiger Woods in the pursuit of extracting reliable one-to-one golf swing controls out of the Wii-mote. And in light of the upcoming MotionPlus extension (that will give the Wii more accurate controls) this is a goal Nintendo both approve of and comprehend its technical difficulty.
At its best, this delivers an almost magical simplicity to the game's controls.
At its best, this delivers an almost magical simplicity to the game's controls. The flowing motion (free from complex timing and gauges) means you can concentrate on the prowess of your real world swing motion. And once you put down the controller, you have a real sense of been playing golf rather than just a video game.
Super Swing Golf's controls aren't without their downsides. Occasionally you feel the game has misinterpreted your motion, although this is pretty rare and may often speak more about my haphazard technique than the controls themselves. An improvement over Tiger Woods 08 is the ability to press a button to end the back swing. This slight compromise (introducing button presses to complement the motion) provides the player with more control over the strength of the shot.
I was able to get my five year old relatively proficient with the game in under an hour.
Perhaps the biggest testament to the flexibility of the swing is that I was able to get my five year old relatively proficient with the game in under an hour. What's more, I realised that in teaching her how to control the game I had also covered the rudimentaries of real life golf. Instinctively I stood behind her and guided her through a few shots to teach her the motion - just like golf coaches do in real life up and down our little island.
The game also gains on Tiger Woods by its excellent depiction of the lie of the ball. From one simple image it is easy to identify how proud the ball is above the surface and the angle of the ground on which it sits. This may seem like a minor point, but when you have a analogue swing mechanic as you do here you want to eliminate any other factors that may have affected the resulting hit. Accordingly, this and all other details (wind and the like) are clear and well laid out.
The game offers a good range of well conceived play modes from the more serious Stroke and Match play to the highly competitive Golf Darts. It's still a shame that it will only accommodate four players at a time, as there seems to be no technical reason for this limit. I have often had a room full of friends keen to play and had to get them to pair up and share a golfer. Fingers crossed that Tiger Woods 09 will address this.
Other than these key points, the game looks extremely solid and well put together. There is no Mii integration, so We Love Golf wins there. But there does seem to be decent character development, perhaps not as nuanced as Tiger Woods, but pretty close.
We are starting to see the lay of the land for the Wii's golfing options. We Love Golf provides a fun filled romp that brings Camelot's play making understanding to the Wii, although without really making use of the Wii-mote. Tiger Woods provides an excellent true swing mechanic although is a little bit buggy and lacking in player feedback, and some would say rather grumpy in general. Super Swing Golf sits somewhere between these two titles, with perhaps more in common with Tiger than We Love Golf. It achieves a competent swing mechanic, but manages to do away with Tiger's sometimes over serious aesthetic, and does a better job at communicating what went wrong (or right) on the last shot, back to the player.
For me Super Swing Golf is the right combination of controls and all round approach. ALthough I need longer with the game to be sure (and also need to note the upcoming Tiger Woods 09) I expect to spend a lot of time with this game, both on my own, with friends, and (perhaps most happily) with the kids.
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