You know, a golf game is a lot like toast. It's really tough to get wrong. Granted, some games end up shining. The majority though, are locked into a perpetual “pretty good” rut. Pangya Fantasy Golf included. Not that being pretty good is a bad thing. I’d say it’s pretty good. Pangya Fantasy Golf, though, takes this tried-and-true formula and adds its own twists, resulting in a worthwhile PSP title.
Until the Tiger Woods PGA Tour series started actively innovating, the format for golf games was simple. There was you, and there was the meter. You press down the button once, wait for the meter to reach the top, press the button again, wait for the meter to reach the bottom, press one more time and let ‘er fly. This simple-yet-effective method is utilized by Pangya, with a fair degree of success. There are a few other things peppered into the game, sure, like a power meter, which allows you to put a bit more gas on a shot once it’s charged, and some unique environments that play differently than a normal fairway/rough/green course. The core gameplay, though, remains fairly typical.
What separates Pangya from the glut of other golf titles is its crazy Japanese-ish-ness. Forget about Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson and that guy with the crazy pants. Pangya has a crazy retired cop, a prepubescent pirate captain, a tennis star in spandex, a hot magical chick and all sorts of other saucer-eyed weirdos. And these people aren’t playing golf for fun or money. Oh no no no. THEY ARE PLAYING GOLF TO SAVE THE (@%*ING WORLD, and they need to fight off demons and deal with old blood feuds and fall in love and all sorts of other stuff you don’t do on a golf course. Honestly, this is actually a bit of a put off. Even though I’m the foremost authority on Naruto video games, it’s somewhat academic, in that I am more interested in the way that different companies use the same source material and progressively advance gameplay within their respective series, than the twelve year-old ninjas who don’t even have swords or masks. The weirdness of Japanese storytelling, and their inability to blend the fantastic and realistic has been making me shake my head or years now. I don’t really want to condemn Pangya for this. I’m “just sayin’,” as it were.
Something I DO like, though, is the sheer amount of content Pangya contains. Dozens of holes and a plethora of characters give you plenty to play with from the start. The game takes it a step further, though, by offering a slew of unlockable content. Using currency earned in-game, you can buy a huge assortment of costumes for the characters. You can also mix-and-match the outfits to create all sorts of crazy (or tasteful) combinations. If costumes aren’t your thing (they normally aren’t mine either, but I like to put my characters into normal-looking clothes), you can buy new equipment, that affect your power, control, hook, etc. You can also take your upgraded characters out to play a simple round of golf, away from the crazy story, as well. There’s a lot in the game to enjoy.
Graphically, the game is decent, but not stellar. The story unfolds with RPG-style profiles-with-speech bubbles, while the actual golf has medium-quality renders swinging in relatively-detailed environments. There is no actual voice acting outside occasional grunts from hard swings, and the music is the usual plucky midis. It’s decent, but not especially impressive.
Even though Pangya is not the most unique title gameplay-wise, it is still enjoyable. With a crazy story mode and solid gameplay, you can easily spend hours-on-end playing golf. The only problem is the lack of online multiplayer. At the not-really-budget price of $30, I think we should have seen some online tee time. Still, this is a game you can have fun with alone, or with friends. Check it out if you’re looking for some light-hearted pick-up-and-play on your PSP.