January 5, 2001
Golf. It's not the most exciting sport to watch. Sure, it requires a fair amount of skill but it rarely achieves that final second excitement. It's not like a footy team scoring a goal in the final seconds to win a match. Still, golf does lend itself to create an exciting video game. Perhaps it's the thrill of beating your best score, or chipping the ball into a hole from 40 meters away. Whatever it is, golf games can be a lot of fun especially if you have a few mates around. Instead of going for a realistic representation of the sport such as Tiger Woods PGA or Links LS, T & E Soft have included cartoon golfers in Swing Away Golf. It may not appeal to some people, but it works quite well.
Booting up Swing Away Golf for the first time will only make you ask where everything is. Only one course is available and there is only one choice of clubs, balls, shoes and golf bag. More options become unlocked as you play the story mode and begin to win tournaments. This story mode, which is one of the best features in the game, gives you the choice of several tournaments beginning on the forest course. The number of options available, after unlocking everything, is quite impressive. Swing Away Golf also keep track of your longest drives, lowest scores, longest chip-ins and almost every other detail conceivable on each of the courses.
Actually controlling the swings is fairly standard to most other golf games. A round bar appears. Press the button to start the swing, press it again to select the power and then press it a third time to control the accuracy of the swing. Naturally there are a lot more option such as club selection (although the caddie does a pretty good job of selecting a club), foot placement, hit position on the ball, angle of the shot etc. While putting, a slope grid appears on the green to aide you with the your direction. Unfortunately, the physics in Swing Away Golf seem slightly on the basic side compared to the latest PC golf games, and the opponents seem way too easy to defeat. (I won my second tournament by 8 shots, and was the only player under par for the round.)
Special mention must be made of the course editor in the game. This editor allows you, not surprisingly, to create your own golf course. Creating a course can be almost automatic or as detailed as you could want including the slopes. This editor therefore allows you to create as many courses in the game as you could want. Another neat addition to the game is the replay mode where the game automatically stores some of the more impressive shots for later viewing.
It's hard to tell from the screenshots but the golfers in this game are very cartoony. You won't be seeing Tiger Woods or Greg Norman in this game but you will get a guy who seems to resembles Dr Eggman (Dr Robotnik) from Sonic The Hedgehog. The courses are quite nice looking although lack the amount of detail you would expect. Fortunately the developers have put in an option to view the crowd instead of just hear them like so many other golf games.
It's hard to create a unique sound for a golf game. Birds in the trees, woosh of the club and some comments from the golfers. What you get in Swing Away Golf is exactly that. The music is the usual cheesy Japanese pop although it in no way becomes grating. Unfortunately the characters, both golfers and caddies, have a very limited vocabulary and become tiresome after a few hours play.
Swing Away Golf is a nice little game. Nothing really jumps out and makes the game great but then again there is nothing bad here. If you like golf games I can only recommend that you check it out. If you aren't too sure about the cartoony graphics and want a more realistic experience then you may be better holding off a few months until Electronic Arts unleashes Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2001 on Playstation 2. Excuse me while I go play another round of golf, virtually of course.