Home | News | Reviews | Previews | Hardware

PANGYA: Fantasy Golf: A Dragon Hits a Birdie
Company: Tomy Ltd.

PANGYA: Fantasy Golf is an unusual entry by TOMY for several reasons. For one, it is the company's first venture onto a Sony system, and for another, it is a game being ported from Korea that has a lengthy history as a PC-based multiplayer golf simulator. But either way, it is sure to turn a few heads, for both hardcore golfing gamers and those looking for something a bit more casual that doesn't necessarily take itself seriously.

PANGYA takes all of the standard golf mechanics; power and accuracy meters, golf club and ball stats, complex holes and tournaments, but puts a JRPG twist on things to make it appealing to a wider audience. The most noticeable thing about PANGYA that adds to this twist is the playable characters. While most games will attempt to go with photo-realistic versions of actual golfers, or maybe even take a slightly cartoonish approach to their character design (Hot Shots Golf), PANGYA: Fantasy Golf goes for an extreme with their anime characters that would look more appropriate in a Final Fantasy or Blue Dragon game than a golfing sim. Characters include everything from your basic princess, to your brooding goth-kid with a dark past and even a massive dragon. But it isn't just the characters that gives PANGYA it's unique feel.

PANGYA: Fantasy Golf will also host a wide variety of stat-altering objects that you can equip your characters with, as well as a bunch of one-swing potions that will have a variety of effects on your character. Besides the base-stats on your character itself, you will be able to purchase a wide assortment of golf clubs (or "Air Lances" as they are referred to in the game). Visually, these can look like anything from standard clubs to umbrellas, hammers and even medieval weapons, and their effects on the characters' stats will affect everything from power and control, to accuracy, spin and curve. But the clubs won't be the only thing affecting your character's abilities. You can also buy balls (called "Aztecs") from the shop. These consumable items (so yes, you will have to keep buying new ones as you play through the game) will have similar affects on your character's abilities, but they also have some interesting visual designs. One of the developers commented that they enjoyed the Bomber Aztec which looks like a classic bomb complete with lit fuse. This particular Aztec has more power and distance. Another ball, the Watermelon, will have slices flying all over the screen when you hit it, but it will roll extra far once it hits the ground.

But Air Lances and Aztecs aren't the only things that will alter your character's performance. You will also have a variety of rings to purchase that will affect the same stats (which just adds to the RPG feel of the game). But more importantly are the items you can buy and story in your little sentient bag (called a Papal) that follows you around the course. These bag-animal-things can alter your base stats on their own, but they can also hold items that you buy from the shop to be used on a per-swing basis. These items can do everything from calm you down (which slows down the power/accuracy meter) to give you more power in your swing. But the better the stats of the papal, the fewer the number of items it can hold. There are 30 different papals in the game that look like everything from pandas to pirates to devils. This last one will only let you hold one item, but apparently it has some major stat boosts.

The game will feature several modes that include a Story Mode featuring a unique path for each character. But while each story is stand-alone, the developers promised that they would intertwine with each other to give players a bigger picture of the overall story. You will also be able to play in various tournaments at multiple locations around the PANGYA Islands world. But, PANGYA: Fantasy Golf will only allow you entry into tournaments if you go through the course's qualifying games to earn a license to play there, so you won't just be able to hop into any tournament right off the bat. The game's non-story single player mode will let you play through a course of 3, 6, 9 and 18 holes, and with the ability to have the game randomly choose which holes on the course to play, you won't find yourself stuck doing the same ones over and over again because you only have time for 3 holes. The ability to play a variable number of holes should really help since this game is on a portable system, and it seems to be a common issue on the PSP for developers to not consider the possibility that a player might only be have time for a few minutes of gameplay before they have to turn the system off.

PANGYA: Fantasy Golf seems to do a lot to appeal to both hardcore and casual golf-gamers. While it does eventually get to the level of most golf-sims, it builds players up slowly so that they get a gradual understanding of how to play the game. So for players out there who have been wanting something to ease themselves into the genre (as opposed to being tossed into the deep end with a Tiger Woods title), then you should definitely keep your eyes open for PANGYA: Fantasy Golf. Look for our full review of the game in a few weeks.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

This site best viewed in Internet Explorer 6 or higher or Firefox.