GZ Interview: Tee it up with Mike Schmitt, producer of Swingerz Golf for the GameCube

GZ Interview

Tee it up with Mike Schmitt, producer of
Swingerz Golf for the GameCube
by Michael Lafferty

games are nothing new when it comes to video gaming, though over the years they
have become increasingly more sophisticated.

However, in the mix of professional
golfers that players can emulate or use as avatars comes a brand of golf game
that goes in the other direction – in a manner of speaking. The golfing action
is still there; it’s just that the participants are not what one would normally

Welcome to the world of Swingerz
Golf, a game from Eidos Interactive for the GameCube.

It is said that one of the things
Tiger Woods is responsible for is bringing the common people to the game. Well,
the folks who tee it up in Swingerz Golf are more the type one would see in
“Happy Gilmore” than dotting a PGA event. But don’t let that fool you; this is
still a solid golf game.

Some of the features of Swingerz
Golf include six courses featuring diverse terrains from a cactus-filled desert
to a classic English course with deep rough and pot bunkers; six fast-talking
caddies who will offer advice; multiple modes of play including tournament,
stroke, match or short course; one-four player gaming; challenging weather
conditions; an analog swing system; mini-games; upgradeable golf gear; and the
ability to equalize character skill levels in multiplayer games.

Mike Schmitt, the U.S. producer for
the game, talked with GameZone about this offbeat, but entertaining title.

Question: This game looks like
it has a great cast of characters. Upon what are they based – as in, are they
the folks you would never want to see on a golf course, or the folks one
generally does see at a public course?

Mike: “I don’t think you’d
see this group of characters on any courses around here. It’s a pretty wacky
group of golfers & caddies … a good mixture of male and female characters,
young/old et cetera. I think there’s pretty much a ‘golfer for everyone.’ It’s
up to the player to discover each character’s particular strengths &

Q: Which character is your
favorite, and why?

Mike: “Personally, I like a
few of them. Sonny is quite fun to play with. It’s hilarious to see this big,
bad-ass biker trying to sink long putts! Kanunu is also amusing. He’s a huge
Sumo wrestler. Gets a lot of ‘ummmph’ into his drives.”

Q: What makes the courses of
this game so unique?

Mike: “I think we have a
nice variety of detailed courses. Wakakusa with it’s Mount Fuji like scenery,
the seaside Resort Links (complete with a volcano), Canyon Valley (a tough rocky
desert course) … as you play and make progress you’ll unlock some much more
challenging courses along the way. The team has also done a tremendous job in
adding in various weather effects that will make the courses play differently
depending on the conditions.”

Q: What kind of graphics engine
does this game use and what did it allow you to do? What graphical elements do
you think players will find the most compelling?

Mike: “The game was
developed by Telenet in Japan. The game is based on their own technology.
Graphically, the game looks awesome on the GameCube. Gamers will be impressed
with the level of detail on the golfers, caddies and courses. The weather
effects are a nice touch and really change the way you need to approach certain
shots et cetera.”

Q: Please tell us a little about
the set of clubs players start with and the kind of clubs they can level up to?

Mike: “Players start off
with basic clubs. As you play all modes of the game (Tournament Mode, various
Mini Games, et cetera) you can unlock specialized clubs, balls and accessories.
Once you find a new item (set of clubs, for example) you’ll discover that it can
be powered up as you use it. As it becomes more juiced up, the specific
qualities of the item will become more apparent.”

Q: Can you tell us a little bit
about the type of swing system the game employs? Is it the triple click method,
or do you use something else? How hard was it to incorporate true golf physics
into the game?

Mike: “Telenet decided to go
with a nice/simple Analog Swing Control System. The GameCube’s ‘C’ stick is used
for all aspects. As you pull down on ‘C’ the power gauge increases then by
moving the ‘C’ stick up the impact & direction are set. It works really well and
it’s easy to quickly pick up. Telenet has created a game that’s not only easy to
pick up and play for casual arcade gamers, but a really deep golf game for true
fans of the sport.”

Q: Please tell us a little bit
about the multiplayer aspects of the game, in particular the tournament mode.
Will this game have actual tourneys that players can participate in? How will
modem speed affect game play?

Mike: “The Tournament Mode
is for single players only. There are numerous tournaments for the player to
unlock and participate in (all factious). One-four players can compete in Stroke
Play (competing for the best total score) and one-two players can compete in
Match Play (compete for lowest score on each hole). Swingerz Golf does not
support online play so there’s no need for a modem!”

Q: Golf games have been around
for a long time. How will Swingerz separate itself, or distinguish itself, from
the rest of the genre?

Mike: “It’s got the best of
both worlds. It’s full of zany, comical golfers/caddies and it offers quick
arcade action. If that’s what you’re after you certainly won’t be disappointed.
But, if you’re a serious golf fan you’ll truly be impressed with the subtle
nuances the game offers. You’ll need to unlock the various items and learn how
to use them. You’ll see the differences among the golfers skill-wise and how
that relates to success on the various courses in the game. I think people will
also enjoy the simple Analog Swing System that was used. It’s not difficult to
learn, but challenging to truly master.”