Oh God, the sticky sweet Japanese anime and dialog is going to make me go off my rocker or worse. Ok, maybe it is not that bad, but good grief it has been a while since I tried to dig into something like Pangya. From the opening video I knew there were no pretenses of a Tiger Woods type simulation golf game. Nope, this one is going to be arcade all the way. Or so I thought.
It is has been a while since I played any sort of arcade sports title, but for some reason this one caught my eye. Maybe it was the anime. Maybe it was the “I don’t have anything else better to play on my PSP” factor. Maybe it was just time to try something new.
After absorbing all the anime goodness of the opening video, I quickly went into the story mode. The game takes you straight into a fairly simple tutorial, which explains the back story of Pangya, and shows you how to play the basics of the game (i.e. the control setup). After the tutorial was safely out of the way, I entered my first tournament. This was a pretty straight forward three hole head-to-head play challenge against a CPU opponent. After getting a disappointing draw, I played again and won before moving to the next tournament. And so on and so forth, except that I won the next few tournaments.
Gameplay seems fairly straight forward, but surprisingly the game seems to have a decent game of golf under the anime. It is way too early to judge the physics, but at first glance, they seem fairly realistic. Take away the anime, the over the top sound effects, catchy sweet music, and arcade sound effects, and you have golf. The basic shot mechanics are routine. After you select your club, you press a button to get the power meter started, determine spin if any, and you press again to get a perfect Pangya zone (i.e. you are going to hit your shot). Standard fare timing system, but it works for a pick up and play system like the PSP. The physics do seem to take wind into play. Same for sand traps, rough, or the fairway; shots handle differently depending on your lie. The greens also present a challenge, with various slopes that must be accounted for as you line up your putts.
I have not really looked into this aspect of the game, but you get to supplement things with various items that can be purchased from a store, which brings arcade elements into the game. I assume different types of power-ups to clubs, balls, and other gadgets such as potions help give you an edge over the competition. I am sure this is also where the game takes on a collection (dare I say RPG) aspect, but I am not going to worry about that right now. At least not today. I have also leveled up my dude, but I have no idea what this gives me. Not sure if my character just gets better or if I am suppose to customize him with attribute points.
It looks like there is plenty to do in the game. There is a story mode, which I assume gives you a different set of painfully bad text to read depending on your character selection. By default the game opens with 2 characters available; it looks like six more are available to be unlocked. There are also other modes of play such as tournament mode, but I have not explored the game beyond the initial story mode.
To be honest, I knew what I was getting into when I decided to preorder a game with a title called Pangya, but so far, so pleased. More to come later.