By Erhan Altay
Pangya was originally developed by Ntreev but is published by a variety of companies in different regions. The game was known here in North America as Albatross18 and was hosted by OGPlanet, the same portal that publishes games like LaTale & Cabal Online. In early 2009 OGPlanet decided to close its Albatross18 servers (mainly due to a low player population), but luckily Ntreev decided to keep the game running. The game was re-launched under its original title in mid-April with the ability for former players to migrate their characters from the old service to the new one.
Golf Meets Anime
Pangya isn’t the only golfing MMO currently available, its main rival is Games Campus’s Golf Online. But while both are centered on the same sport, they look and play much differently. Like Ntreev’s other two games, Grand Chase and Trickster Online, Pangya has distinct, anime-style visuals, whereas Golf Online stresses realism. Which of these two you happen to prefer is a matter of personal taste, but it’s obvious that Pangya is the more casual, light-hearted game of the two. Character creation is extremely simple; there is only a single avatar choice and your gender is determined by your selection during account creation. There are a few hair and shirt colors, but that’s about it.
After character creation, players are taken to the main screen with several options available. The first of these is the game’s optional tutorial. Luckily, this tutorial is short so go ahead and run through it at least once. The tutorial is broken down into several stages, with each stage asking you to play a hole as a sort of summary. Stage one explains camera controls, use the arrow keys to rotate and the ‘0’ & ‘1’ keys to get a bird’s eye view of the map and the general idea of where you’re aiming. All players have a full range of clubs which can be switched by by holding shift and using the arrow keys. The game does a good job of auto-selecting a club for you depending on your distance from the hole, but more advanced players may want to make their own decision on that matter. The second stage concerns hitting the golf ball, which is a two stage process. First, initiate the swing by hitting space, then hit space again as the bar on the bottom fills. The slider will then start moving backwards towards a white line – hit space as near the line as you can to increase your accuracy. Getting the slider to line up perfectly will make your swing a ‘Pangya’ which turns the ball blue as it travels through the air. The third stage explains bunkers, or sand traps, and how more force is required to hit a ball out of them. The last stage teaches players how to hit the ball when it’s in the green and near the hole.
Shopping for the Right Gear
Players start Pangya with 3,000 Pang, the game’s currency. The shop has plenty of clothing and items for sale, though most are prohibitively expensive. Almost any shirt, pair of pants, or shoes that boosts one of your five stats (Power, Control, Accuracy, Spin, or Curve) costs over ten-thousand Pang. The few items that don’t boost stats and are purely for appearance only cost about a thousand or so, but there are not enough of these items. I used my starting cash to buy a cowboy hat and a shirt but didn’t have enough left over for a pair of pants. The default shorts were not my style, but I was stuck with them. Besides clothes, there are new clubs for sale though – some are very silly in nature. I saw a huge mace and other outrageous items which further emphasize PangYa’s casual credentials. A whole section in the store is dedicated to consumables like power potions that temporarily increase your stats, but I was too thrifty to give these items a try. Playing a short three hole round nets each player around 100 Pang, which makes saving up for even a basic piece of clothing a difficult ordeal.
The Game Lobby
There are currently two live servers, each with several channels, including rookie, veteran and free channels. While there are four game modes, by and large the most popular one is the standard versus mode, which has ten available courses and accommodates four players. The host can chose how many holes will be played, from as little as three to the traditional eighteen. Since golf is a turn-based game, things can move rather slowly, especially if you’re in a room with four people. I’m not the most patient of gamers, so I stuck with short one-on-one matches, which were enjoyable. There is a wind factor involved which constantly seems to change, so just keep an eye on it on the bottom-right. The default direction the game points you in is almost always accurate, though one time it didn’t account for a giant lighthouse between the hole and I – my ball ended up in the ocean. So, always double check that by hitting ‘0.’ The other game modes include tournament, battle, and lounge. Tournament mode is simply a series of shorter games with 10-30 players with one winner at the end, while battle mode allows players to wager their pang with others. If you’re certain of your skills, battle mode can increase your pang earning, but carries larger risk. Lounge mode acts as the game’s chat room and social gathering area. Up to thirty players can join a hosted lounge and walk around the course, chat, and set up personal shops to sell their items. If you’re looking to purchase an expensive piece of clothing or gear, always check out a few lounge rooms first to see if you can snag the same item for a discount.
Serious or Silly
PangYa’s greatest strength is its simplicity. It didn’t take long for me to figure out the game’s controls, even though I have no golfing experience. But with that said, Pangya didn’t win me over to the sport either. I went in with little interest in golf and came out unchanged. Getting a game started was easier in PangYa than it was in Golf Online, but I would still recommend the latter for anyone looking for a serious golfing experience. One a final note – I was impressed with the game’s Family Mode, which allows multiple people to play on one computer with a single account. If you have friends and family over and don’t feel like creating multiple accounts, this is an easier way to get a game started.
Final Verdict: Good (3/5)
PangYa is an easy to play, casual golfing game that may not impress seasoned veterans, but will keep less serious fans of the sport entertained. How much you enjoy this game will be based on how patient you are and how much you already enjoy casual golfing sims.
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