The Wii will take tired old ideas and make them sing, at least for the first year. That's the only conclusion we could draw after hands-on time with Super Swing Golf. On the face of it, there's not much creativity in this game: it's stuffed with saccharine little girls in frilly skirts hitting golf balls through winter wonderlands while excruciatingly bouncy music beats your brain into a pink pulp.
But, when you use the Wii controller to make a shot...
See, this is just Mario Golf in way-too-cute clothing. But the Wii controller makes all the difference in the world. It detects the speed of your swing. It measures the angle when you hit the ball. And that is what sets this game apart.
The demo we played was extremely limited as compared to the final game: we were assured that story and party modes, among others, will be tucked into the final product. But we can't comment on those (though the idea of a badly-translated story mode with these adorable anime girls is already making us cringe.) Of course, you're going to be forced to play it to unlock characters.
What we did see, however, is three courses: Shining Sand (a pyramid-filled desert), White Wiz (a snowy canyon) and Blue Lagoon (a beach). Since this is a fantasy golf game, you can play on courses that just wouldn't work in real life - but the basis of the actual golf game is realistic, which means that the weather will affect the gameplay in the final version (rain will hurt a ball's traveling distance and slow down its rolling on the ground, for example.)
As with a regular golf game, you'll set your angle and select your club with the D-pad on the controller. But once you do that, instead of just pushing buttons as a meter ticks up and down, you'll actually pull the Wii controller back behind you like a golf club. You can watch the meter on screen to see when you've pulled back far enough; then you hold the A button and swing - and your swing speed determines how fast the actual on-screen hit is. If you tilt the controller left or right, then the ball will hook or slice. It's not completely realistic, but it does really put you in the game in a way no golf game really has.
Depending on how good your shots are, you earn coins - and then, in a mode we didn't see, you can turn in these coins to unlock new equipment like clubs and accessories. Since this is a fantasy-based golf game, accessories work kind of like in RPGs - equipping the right hairband on one of the characters might increase her power or speed. Plus they'll make her look even cuter! We're already gagging. You can also charge up a special power meter by making good shots - and that translates into special shots (anyone who played Mario Golf knows the drill: the super unrealistic, over-the-top stuff.) And thence we get the game's title: Super Swing Golf.