reviewed on PSP
Plugging a hole
A long time ago, in a parallel dimension to Earth, there was a magical island-world known simply as Pangya. All was peaceful in Pangya until one day, an evil force summoned by the Demon King, came crashing down upon the land. This dark energy created a force field around Pangya that drained the life from the land. The world of Pangya grew weaker with every passing day. Flowers withered, trees turned barren and the earth lost its green. The people of Pangya could not come up with a solution to rid their land of the evil presence.
Until the inhabitants of the land realized that all of the life force from Pangya was being drained to the Demon King through a hole in the force field. A plan rose to plug the hole with a crystal filled with the spirit force of all living things. The power of the crystal became so great that it could not be touched by human hands. So the people in Pangya created the Air Lance, a tool in the shape of a stick to hit the Mystical Phoenix ball into the hole of the evil force field. This difficult task was eventually completed by a warrior from Earth, ridding the world from the evil force for good. In honor of this warrior, the game of Albatross 18 is being played throughout the world of Pangya. The name Albatross was chosen because it is the best shot one can hit in the game outside of a hole-in-one. Today, you have been invited to play Albatross 18. Are you ready to show your skill?
Whacking some balls
The game of Albatross 18 looks remarkably like Golf, in fact, it is Golf. When you start out in Pangya's story mode, you set off into nicely laid out courses with colorful names as Wiz Wiz, Blue Moon and Silvia Cannon. Playing the game is easy, simply pick your distance, then your power and 'swing!' you're off to the first hole. Wait a minute, there is a bit more depth than that. Differently colored blocks at the left indicate a certain action. Hitting just when it is white produces the perfect shot while black or pink will make you tee, putting a point towards your par count. Despite its creative looking setting, Pangya still carries aspects uch as wind, the level of the terrain, obstacles, bunkers, the fairways, rough, the green and yes even putting is accounted for. Different characters are available to play with and most can drive down a course anywhere between 210-260 yards. If the wind is facing toward you you will probably nail about 235 if your character can drive 260. This is extremely important when shooting over a river or over a cliff since you will come short and get an out of bounds penalty.
The whole point of Pangya is to get your ball in the cup before the other player and do so with the least amount of shots. Each player will take turns deciding what conditions will better their shot. You need to adjust accordingly and use your quick finger to get a perfect Pangya shot. Pangya shots will bring your ball exactly where you want it and anywhere outside the white box will make your ball come short. Pangya follows the traditional Golf gameplay in most places, but adds one little twist: Power Shots. Power shots come in different forms, ranging from the Power Spin that makes your ball roll back a few yards to the Tomahawk which makes your ball stop dead where it lands without rolling along with others. These sound useful but the execution is so hard to pull off you will quickly abandon the idea.
While most of the game's mechanics sound solid and easy to understand, not every element has been worked out to the point it should have been. Customizing your game, for instance, is about as useless as playing Golf with a baseball bat. You can shop at the Pangya store using Pang, the game's currency, which is earned by completing tournaments. You can buy equipment such as new balls, clubs and many other items. Buying Golf balls adds points to your attributes such as accuracy, spin and power. Strangely enough, Clubs do the same but are just more expensive. The items that can be bought can be used during and will temporarily boost the exact same attributes but can also do some more interesting sutff such as nullify the wind. All these elements could turn a standard game of golf into a true fantasy experience but end up being as exciting as watching paint dry.
Not bad, not bad at all
The one thing that sets Pangya apart from its peers, are its wonderful story and charming characters. Within each episode of the three available chapters, you can play ten characters and they each have their own unique story. Each character is beautifully drawn with personalities so vibrant that they pull you in and never let go. Uncle Bob is an angry police officer who entered the tournament just to get some fried chicken and Max is a famous tennis player who is running from fans that are trying to get his autograph. There is no voice acting, but maybe this is good thing. Most Japanese games don't transfer well to American voices.
Contrasting the characters and colorful setting, the quality of the graphics is sub par with flat and polygonal textures. In fairness, the do get the job done for this otherwise fine golfing game. Pangya is sure to be a pleasant surprise even to people who don't like, or even know how to play golf. Easy controls, wonderful characters and a fun multiplayer mode will charm you off your socks.
Charming characters, intriguing story, simple controls
Customization is ultimately useless, takes awhile to unlock most courses, sub-par graphics