|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: NTREEV Soft||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: TOMY Corporation||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 23, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-8||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
Golf games have been done before on the PSP, but rarely do they venture very far beyond the traditional bounds of the sport like what weve seen in Nintendos take on the pastime. For gamers who could normally care less about sports titles, it can take a lot for one to elicit their attention.
Dressing up one of the least exciting and visually stimulating sports to make it enticing for players who are used to a constant IV drip of flashy action and explosions is no simple task. It seems South Korean developer NTREEV Soft is well aware of this conundrum and has laid the groundwork to draw players into the fold with a few clever tricks.
Cartoonish presentations and wacky power ups have been great tools for spicing up the game for new crowds of players in the past. However, PANGYA: Fantasy Golf a portable, anime-style fantasy golf game based-on the popular Korean casual golfing MMO takes the idea even further by weaving a fantasy storyline, RPG elements, and a robust collectible system into the sport. Anime lovers with collection obsessions will find a lot to drool about in the colorful world of fantasy golf NTREEV has cooked up.
Fantasy Golfs back-story setup is an unusual one. Long ago, dark sorcerers began draining the life energy from Pangya Island through holes created throughout the land. To stop the destruction, the islands sage came up with a plan to plug the evil energy leaks by hitting magical balls called Aztecs into the holes with clubs called Air Lances. Sounds familiar, right? A hero from Earth was summoned to accomplish this task and saved Pangya. Ever since, the mystical islands inhabitants send time fairies to Earth every year to gather people to participate in the Pangya Festival a game created to recreate the brave efforts of the hero who once save the land from certain doom. Though it takes a while to get under way, a continuation of this plot does arise as you progress through the main game. Despite all the fancy storytelling, this basically boils down to some pretty straightforward golfing. Thats not a bad thing.
The actual gameplay and flow of each match differs little from other golf games, and the controls are quite manageable. Aiming your shots and adjusting the view of the course is mainly handled with the D-pad. You can also zoom in and out, look from a higher or lower vantage point, and check out your location on the map. Like most golf games, youll fire your shots by pressing a single button to engage a power meter, tapping it a second time when the indicator reaches the desired shot strength, and hitting it a third time when it returns within a small zone to launch the ball and determine accuracy. Shot distances can be modified by switching out clubs, applying front and backspin, and adding curve. Youll also unlock special moves that dish out cool effects and require extra button press combinations in mid-swing, and you can buy consumable items like potions, pills, and special balls that can be used to boost your golfing prowess. While the controls are good, the camera angles both before you swing and when the ball is in mid-flight arent always ideal and can be disorienting.
Fantasy Golfs main story mode lets you play a series of Pangya matches as different characters, offering some funny and unusual dialogue between rival golfers. Playing through each set of matches as various characters gradually progresses the story, unlocks new items, and opens up characters to play in other modes. The characters themselves are highly unusual and have distinct personalities and appearances youll find an assortment of busty beauties, a giant talking polar bear, and a strange mustached cop with an obsession for fried chicken, among other odd folks. As you play through the matches with each character, youll gain experience points and level-up your golfing rank. A separate tour mode lets you play in larger tournaments, enjoy free rounds in courses of your choosing, and complete challenges to obtain tournament licenses. Theres also a solid ad hoc multiplayer mode for up to eight players that increases the amount of money youll earn for winning based on how many individuals are playing. Fantasy Golfs story mode offers a ton of play, and these extra features are worth the extra time to explore, particularly because they can help you earn funds to upgrade and purchase items and accessories for your characters.