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Bang! The fun-tasy golf game returns as PangYa Mobile!
My first encounter with PangYa was also pretty much my introduction to golf as the sport isn’t that popular here in the country I live in; it’s usually a sport that only the privileged can play. Without any knowledge of how golf works, it took me long enough to know the basic rules and terminologies since I was around my 4th or 5th grade back then. I thought having a plus in my score was a good thing while it was the opposite, never knew what Albatross, Eagle, Birdie, Par, or Bogey was, or what the different parts of the course is. The game had been a part of my childhood and even my college years when PangYa was released on the PlayStation Portable as PangYa: Fantasy Golf and got up to World Pro before my handheld died out (Goodnight, sweet prince), and while I didn’t stay too long in the PC North American server, the server closure on December 2016 was a sad day.
It was in 2014 when PangYa Mobile was announced and boy did that make me excited! My PSP died, I didn’t have much time for PC games that year, and while I do have a Wii to play Super Swing Golf, that’s not an option since I don’t want to accidentally break our television. So my last option was to wait for the mobile version… and there goes the years without much updates, a lot of people initially thought that it was quietly canned until late 2017 when NCSOFT announced that they licensed PangYa Mobile to LINE. I wasn’t able to get in the CBT since it was a bit short so I had to wait out until it was officially open. Then here comes February and PangYa Mobile is now in my Google PlayStore, heck yes!
Storywise, this seems to be loosely based from PangYa: Fantasy Golf’s own story mode or at least some of its points. Instead of Nuri (Scout for some regions) and Hana (Erika for the Japanese server) as the first characters to use, PangYa Mobile stars Marr, a new character for the mobile version, Arin, and Tiki. Arin has been a playable character in PangYa and its console spin-offs while Tiki, on the other hand, was originally one of the caddies that support you in the game by giving you additional stat boosts. A new threat seems to be looming on PangYa island and it’s up to the three of them to check it out, they meet other characters along the way like Lucia, Cecilia, Ryan, and Lolo. If you played the PC version, Lucia and Cecilia are playable characters while Lolo was a caddie. Ryan is a new character (A Max clone. No, not really, he just looks like Max.) working for Kooh and one of her pirate crew, quite unfortunate that he’s scared of water.
There’s a total of seven playable characters at the moment with more to come, one of the possible characters would be Kooh as she was shown to be playable in the trailer and has her own model in-game. The same goes with Kaz since he shows up at the start of the game and was briefly playable. If you want Nuri or Hana to join in the fun, it’s possible that they’ll be added at some point since they are mentioned early in the story. Old favorites like Max and Azer (Uncle Bob in some regions) may have some chances, but still unsure.
Now let’s go to the gameplay. Unlike the previous versions where you only use one character for the whole game, now you need to use a team, composed of three characters, in each game for the mobile version. How does this work? Each of the characters have their own strength. Let’s take your first team as an example to explain.
Marr is a Power type, his shots can travel farther than the other types, a good choice to appoint as the first striker to cover a lot of distance. Preferably for Par-3 Hole maps as your objective is to reach Green in less shots as possible. Their control is somewhat terrible though.
Tiki is an Accurate type, this type honestly confuses me as their strength is… what? Accurate Pangya shots? They do seem to have better control than other types, more distance than Putter types, but less than what Power types have.
Arin is a Putter type, she’s best used when it’s time to make a shot in the Green since Putter types are the most stabilized characters in that field. But they have horrible power.
You can switch characters in the middle of the game. I’m not sure if it’s fixed, but I’ve reached Stage 3 in Story mode, played Challenges, and PvP as well and the amount of character switching available is always set to 1 per game and one game has a standard set of 3 maps. So in all of those 3 maps, you only have one chance to switch to another character, not counting the ‘Friend’ you can bring in the game but that’s not available during PvP. This is where it can be problematic, you’re forced to use all of your characters for the rest of the game if you used your tags early. Some might say “it’s for you to have strategy” but it only limits all the possible strategies that you can do.
Other gameplay stuff are still similar to the other versions, there’s a bar on the lower part of the screen to determine the distance of your shot and direction. Tap the ball on the screen to start your shot, tap it again to the distance you want and the last tap will be the direction. I say direction since if you miss the Pangya area of the Impact zone, it’ll either go left or right depending on where the cursor ends.
There’s still the wind mechanic to look out for, your ball’s direction and mileage may also vary depending on the wind power and direction. Let’s say your wind says 5m to the left, once you make your shot, your ball will adjust to the wind direction and power that will end up with it going left. That’s why you have to adjust your shot in accordance to the wind power and direction first.
Of course it’s not PangYa without its special shots, although not all of them made it to the mobile version. The Tomahawk made it in, Cobra and Spike didn’t make it in but the mobile version special shots called Blade and Cannon. These special shots seem to be character type specific, Marr and Ryan have the Blade shot and they are both Power types. Tiki, Cecilia, and Lolo have the Tomahawk shot and the three of them are Accurate types. Arin and Lucia have the Cannon shot and they are both Putter types. There’s no “Power” version for these special shots since you are locked to two uses of special shots per game. For the Power Spin and Power Curve, these special shots are now character specific skills; Tiki has the Forward – Backward After Spin, Cecilia has the Curve shot, and Lola seems to have Right – Left After Spin. This part may need an update later on as I based this from the skill description and it may or may not be accurate. The skills mentioned has to be unlocked first by upgrading your character.
I just mentioned skills, yes, characters have specific skills that they can use depending on their specialty and type. These are used by filling the Skill gauge on the lower left part of the screen, and that can be done by making a shot or getting skill gems floating in the map. For example, Marr’s first available skill increases his covered distance.
How does the game perform on mobile? I’m using a Sony Xperia XA Ultra and it works well on High graphics setting, there are some noticeable lag in frames if there are lots of things happening on the screen but it doesn’t happen very often, if it does then you can still adjust the graphics setting to Medium and Low. The graphics of the game itself somewhat captures the feel of the PC game, ‘somewhat’ because of the hardware limitations of course. One of the things that you might see is that the model texture resolution goes down if the characters are talking in visual novel style even on high settings. The game does slow down and can be choppy in PvP since it depends on your network connection as well, and it can get frustrating since there is a chance of missing a Pangya shot because of the choppy frames.
Does it have the relaxing music that the PC and console games have? It sure does! When I play mobile games I rarely have the music on, well, except with games that revolves around music like School Idol Festival of course, but this is PangYa and I love PangYa’s course background music. Not the same as the music in previous games but it has the same feel to it. The characters also have their own voice actors, albeit in Korean, and they are pretty great. Marr’s VA especially since he captures his character real well. Miss that voice who shouts “PANGYA!” whenever you make a Pangya shot? It’s back!
Is this game going to be Pay-to-Win? Honestly, it’s possible. As far as I can remember PC PangYa didn’t have a Character upgrade system, but it had its Clubs, Clothes, and Accessories that you can equip to your character to increase their stats. In PangYa Mobile however, it has a Character, Club, and Clothing upgrade system. While both versions used Gacha to get some of these items, the amount of time or money you have to use in the Mobile version is much more than its PC counterpart since the amount of games you can have in PangYa Mobile uses Hole pins to start a game in Story, and you can buy Hole pins using Garnets, thus you can farm more if you buy more Hole pins, then you’ll get the items needed to upgrade your characters that way or you know, just let Lady Luck deal with it in Gacha and buy the other stuff using your money. Can Free-to-Play players compete with whales? Yup, with enough dedication. The game hands out a bunch of free stuff as you progress and during events so those who are not able to buy items with their money can still catch up, and maybe have some sense of pride and accomplishment along the way?
What if I want to just play some fantasy golf and not be competitive? That’s not going to be a problem at all! I’m not a competitive person myself and I just play to have fun and I’m absolutely having fun with it, just not when I accidentally have bad shots, it’s rubbish. The Story mode games only have 3 Holes so it doesn’t take very long to complete, plus there are twists in the gameplay like defeating a huge monster that looks like Dolfini, destroy blocks using your Aztecs, there’s even monsters on the field that you can defeat with your shot and you can earn more points if you do so. The Wiz Wiz-like map, King’s Haven, has this warp gate thing that you can use to take advantage of; if your ball goes through the warp, it’ll send the ball flying further. It’s really fun to think how you’ll do your shots in specific maps.
So to end, let’s have a bit of a summary and get to the pros and cons of the game for hardcore players, the casual ones and even those who are old PangYa players like I am and the newcomers to the game.
+ The games don’t last too long. If you want a quick match just to pass time, PangYa Mobile is perfect for that.+ Same old PangYa with a twist. It’s PangYa on the go, and it won’t always be the same maps, the same goals, the same mechanics. There’s always something new in maps so it won’t bore you out.+ A lovely soundtrack. Relaxing music and golf? I’ll take it! It’s not easy to have a track that can ease up your nerves in a really tight match with someone in PvP.+ Learn golf, have fun. First time playing a golf game? No problem. The game teaches you how to play PangYa and it does have the same mechanics as real-life golf. With the exception of Tomahawk shots though.+ Great for people who wants a single player experience. Not a fan of playing against other people? The Story mode already gives you a great game experience. You can play PvP here and there but it’s not required in order for you to enjoy the game.
- The games may be a bit too short for hardcore and old players. Tournaments can last up to 18 Holes and that takes a while, but the challenge and fun was still there. Sadly it doesn’t seem to be present in the game right now.- The Team mechanic. While the idea of making characters have their own set of skills and types was okay since it makes them unique, being forced to switch characters severely limits what you can do in a game.- Possible Pay-to-win. It’s not surprising anymore but still a bit of a turn-off. As mentioned earlier there’s already a Gacha system in PC PangYa but the mobile version cranks that up.
Overall, I still like PangYa Mobile despite some of its flaws, it’s relatively easy at first glance, but the difficulty shows itself later on. It’s not as simple as tapping and getting all those Pangya shots, it takes skill and even calculations to get the lowest possible score (If you’re not familiar with golf, a negative score is better). There are things that could be improved on with the gameplay and its current English translation. As far as reports go, LINE has released the game on three countries and will launch in South Korea sometime this year. With an English translation already up, it’s also possible that they will have it published for other countries in the West, despite the closure of the PC North American server, PangYa is still a beloved arcade golf game in the region.