Hands-onSwingerz Golf

We play a few rounds with Eidos' upcoming Fresh Games golfing game.

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The Eidos Fresh Game line brings games previously released exclusively in the Japanese market to North America. The latest game to be introduced to Western audiences, Swingerz Golf, features fast-paced, intuitive gameplay and a character style reminiscent of that of the campy Hot Shots Golf series of games.

The localized version of Swingerz Golf we played included most of the features that will be in the final release. There were two characters to choose from, with a dozen additional golfers to unlock in the tour mode. The characters included a number of colorful outfits and kitschy gimmicks, including a male pop star, a tough-looking biker, and a female scientist. Each character in Swingerz Golf is rated in four different categories: power, control, impact, and spin. These stats can be raised from their low beginning ratings through tour mode play, where the golfers earn cash and can purchase equipment, such as a power glove. In addition, these golfers can take their choice of six different caddies with them to the greens, including a club-carrying robot, among other types.

Besides the single-player tour mode, you can engage in stroke play, training, match play, and a handful of minigames. Training allows you to check out the layout of any of the game's six courses in each of the four seasonal weather conditions. Four players can participate in the stroke or match play modes, while smaller groups of players can face off against CPU-controlled opponents. The minigames we checked out included one called nearest the pin, in which each golfer gets a single swing, with the object being to send the ball as close to the pin as possible on nine par-three holes. If you crave a more realistic golfing simulation, you can even turn off gauges such as wind speed and distance to the pin.

What makes Swingerz Golf inherently different from its Hot Shots Golf competition is the analog control scheme it uses. The GameCube's C stick is pulled back to generate power, and it must be flicked up in a straight line for maximum distance. Once wind and power were taken into account, we found ourselves able to make very accurate drives. It helped considerably that the power gauge at the bottom of the screen included a handy topography overlay, as well as a flag indicator, showing the ideal point to stop the gauge in order to reach the pin. Putting was also easy to learn, with moving dotted lines indicating the direction of slope and a color overlay indicating whether you're uphill or downhill from the whole.

While the golfing aspect of the game played much like a simulation would, with realistic physics and sensitive control, the game also features a number of campy aspects. When good swings are made, the camera may show a sequence of six frames, panel by panel, onscreen. Another effect takes the perspective of an overhead camera as the ball streaks in and shatters the screen into a shower of shards.

Swingerz Golf is scheduled for a November release in the US, but in the meantime, check out our latest screenshots of the game in action. We'll have more on Swingerz Golf as it approaches release.

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