By Jenni . July 7, 2009 . 11:49am
Fantasy Golf Pangya, Ntreev’s golf adventure brought to North America by Tomy, is adorable and user friendly. It’s tournaments, missions and storyline challenges are accommodating to both established albatrosses and beginners. Plus, players of the free-to-play MMO Pangya, which the Fantasy Golf Pangya is based on, will definitely experience deja-vu.
Pangya looks like golf and plays a lot like golf, but isn’t golf. At least, that’s what Scout’s time fairy caddy Pippin says in the story mode. Years ago, Scout’s father came from Earth and saved the island of Pangya with golf skills, and now the game of Pangya is designed as a tribute to commemorate his actions. People from Earth and Pangya Island have all gathered to take part in a huge Pangya festival, with all sorts of tournaments and matches.
Fantasy Golf Pangya‘s story mode takes place in four parts, a prologue where Scout comes to Pangya Island, learns the history of the game and goes through a tutorial that teaches him to play. After that comes episodes 1 and 2, where players can pick from 8 golfers, including Scout, to see their individual storylines.
So how is Fantasy Golf Pangya not like golf? There are only a few minor differences. First, there’s the Pangya shot, a special shot that, when timed correctly, lands pretty much exactly where you planned. Then, there’s the Papel, a bag that holds items you can use during play that benefit the player. There are also some special shots (tomahawk, power curve, cobra shot and spike shot) that allow you to make tricky shots. Finally, clothing and equipment count. The right outfit allows you to earn more Pang from completing holes and tricky shots, and also changes what swings look like. Equipment alters your golfers’ abilities.
If you ever played the PC MMO Pangya, you’ll find the PSP port is extremely similar. If there was online multiplayer, you’d think you were actually playing the exact same game. You play on fantasy courses where elements like terrain, wind and obstacles play a part in accomplishing goals. The Pangya Tour Mode is most like the MMO, and is the portion of the game where players can compete in tournaments, earn licenses to unlock new tournaments, play free rounds of golf with no objectives and revisit the tutorial. There’s also a network mode, where you can play against 7 other people in ad-hoc multiplayer and a Panya Collection area where you can purchase new items and equipment with Pang to use in the game.
One of my biggest qualms with Fantasy Pangya Golf is unlocking. There are 18 different golfers to play as in the game, but you start with only Scout and Hana. To unlock the other 16, you have to play through the story mode. While story mode is quite entertaining, I can’t help feeling there’s some kind of planning error when I have to invest 5 hours into the game so I can have 4 characters to choose from. Since the game gradually gets harder in story mode based on which character’s storyline you’re playing, it can be quite trying to unlock characters like Arin or Max. Plus, what if someone doesn’t care for the main storyline and just wants to enjoy the tour and network modes with whatever characters they want?
Aside from the whole character unlocking fiasco, Fantasy Golf Pangya is a lot of fun to play. I’m normally horrid at golf games, and tend to avoid sports games in general. I think the last one I played was a Mario RPG golf game on the Game Boy Color. I did play a bit of the original Pangya MMO, and found I enjoyed Fantasy Golf Pangya. I was worried initially about the difficulty and controls, especially since it sounded a bit complicated when I was reading the instruction books. (Taken from the advanced techniques section directions for a tomahawk shot: “Enter Power Shot mode by pressing O. Activate the swing by pressing X and set the power of the shot by pressing X again. As the slider is coming back down, press L and R. Press X again when the slider meets the accuracy bar for a perfect Pangya Shot.”) In practice, all shots are effortless procedures. I found I had no trouble making par in the story mode, or even earning birdies.
Also, as I mentioned before, Fantasy Golf Pangya is absolutely adorable. The Papel bag characters all resemble cats or dogs. The environments are vibrant and bright. The characters models and menu art are created in an anime style. Plus, every character has a wide variety of outfits you can mix and match.
A sense of purpose in Fantasy Golf Pangya to keeps players motivated. Playing the game and undertaking all sorts of challenges earns you Pang, which can be put towards new clubs, balls (aztecs), rings, items and clothing. One of my favorite shops is the Papel Shop, which is sort of like a random grab bag. You pay 200 Pang, and you’ll get between 1-4 items or aztecs to use in the game. Plus there’s the character unlocking.
There are three other things to take note of in Fantasy Golf Pangya. First is the loading. There’s quite a bit of it, but thankfully it isn’t too long. Second, the game saves automatically. It’s a handy feature, since it will keep track of what parts of story mode episodes you’ve completed and what items you have. Third, not all aztecs (balls) are unlimited. Unfortunately, all except for the unlimited basic aztecs cost money. I’m sure more advanced players will invest in them and put them to good use, but beginners (like myself) should be able to get by with the standard aztec.
Fantasy Golf Pangya is a great addition to the North American PSP game library. It’s a lot of fun to play for novices and advanced players, whether or not they’re fans of the genre. It’s bright, colorful and, thanks to the auto-save, a great game to play in spurts. If it had online multiplayer and more than 2 characters available initially, I’d consider it a must-buy PSP game. As is, it’s a title that I’d strongly recommend, even to people who don’t normally play sports games.
Food for Thought: