Dialing Up Haymakers, Slapshots, 7-10 Splits

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Dialing Up Haymakers, Slapshots, 7-10 Splits

Ever wanted to knock that perfect pitch onto the green, but didn't know a sand wedge from a sandwich?

How about sending a superbly executed banana kick around the keeper and right into the net?

The stuff of your wildest sports dreams, you might say.

In the world of online games, those shots and more are possible. Just by limbering up your fingers and sharpening your reflexes you can arrive at a sense of victory similar to what you get after a game well played. And all without spending hours practicing your swing or running around the soccer field drenched in perspiration.

The advent of Web-enabled mobile phones with the capability to play games on their 12-line screens is driving the development of a variety of mobile sports games. People jaded by Hangman and low-resolution video gambling, the mainstays of tiny wireless phones until recently, can now try out their prowess among a number of new sports, including golf, soccer, fishing, boxing, tennis and bowling.

Phone Golf, a recent addition to the growing game menu on n.TOP, the wireless Internet service by SK Telecom, has seen more than 15,000 downloads since its launch at the beginning of August. The 18-hole game can support two players and begins by downloading the game via wireless Internet on your Web-enabled mobile phone.

Players can select from nine different golf courses and 14 golf clubs. Adding to the game's complexity are the varied wind speeds and directions that can affect your shot.

Your mobile keypad allows you to control everything, such as swing direction, the choice of club and even your perspective (either aerial view or player's view). Manipulating all 10 keys using only two thumbs is no easy task and requires both a bit of practice and good eye-hand coordination. Unlike other, simpler games, Phone Golf has many variables and you may need to press the help key quite often during the game.

The game costs 700 won to download and you can play it as many times as you like before you delete it. You can also choose to play a single hole, nine-holes or the entire 18-hole game, although staring into the small screen for about 30 minutes may put a droop in your eyelids.

The popularity of mobile golf games comes from a shift in the demographics of wireless Internet users. While tech-savvy teenagers made up the bulk of early adaptors, more mobile phone users in their 20s and 30s are discovering the convenience and possibilities of the wireless Internet.

"Unlike mobile phone games that were geared toward teenagers, phone golf is something that older people are familiar with," said Kim Min-hyong, director of wireless Internet business at Zio Interactive, the company that developed the golf game.

Encouraged by the early reception of the game, the company is holding a "Phone Golf-LG Championship" through the end of this month. After each 18-hole game, a player's score is recorded. The top 10 players during the championship period will win 1 million won ($770) each.

If you are in a more competitive mood, a network game may be the answer. For magic.n users at KTF, up to four players can log on via to race each other at a Cyber Racer game. Sound effects and vibrations make the virtual racing experience more complete.

At ez-i, LG TeleCom's wireless Internet service, the menu of mobile games has grown to some 300 since games were first introduced two years ago.

A growing number of these games are sports games, including a simple soccer game that can be downloaded for 300 won per day. A single key is used to shoot, the objective being to kick the ball past the goalie, simulated by simple black and white bars.

The small screen is not the only place where you will find online sports games. If you are a die-hard soccer fan who can't wait for the 2002 World Cup finals next year, a number of online soccer games for your PCs will be available in the next couple of months.

Unlike its much smaller cousin on the tiny screen, Zero Cup, due for release in October by Cenozoic Entertainment, is a 3D online multi-user game that supports up to 22 gamers at once.

The game not only pits the teams against each other, but also allows the participant to train his chosen player. Another online soccer game, Dream Soccer, developed by Dreamball Entertainment, a young venture firm, is currently undergoing beta testing before its commercial release, scheduled for November.

Fanning the digital soccer fever in Korea will be also be EA.com, a video and computer game giant from the United States, which announced last week that it plans to launch FIFA Web Soccer, an online version of its highly popular FIFA series, in Korea this fall.

The game, which can support two players simultaneously, features 125 international teams and offers the choice of all soccer movements sanctioned by FIFA.

by Kim Hoo-ran

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