Review: Golf Story▲
October 05, 2017
Golf Story by Sidebar Games is a cute retro styled RPG about a man following his dreams of becoming a pro golfer. It’s also the first comedy game I have played in a long, long time while also being the first golf game I’ve played since Mario Golf on the GameCube.
Golf Story does a great job of introducing the player to the mechanics and rules of golf. It eases you into all of the concepts of hitting a drive, laying up, and putting all in the first few minutes of the game. Actually hitting a ball involves the classic golf game controls of choose a club, aim, then, with a moving marker, set power and precision. These controls will be immediately familiar to anyone who’s ever played a golf game before but they’ll also be intuitive enough for everyone to pick up and start playing. More advanced golf concepts like putting break, loft, spin, and hazards are all introduced at a good pace throughout the game to keep things interesting as you progress. There’s also a few power ups you can acquire which are pretty situational but can be nice to use if you’re in a pinch.
Off the course you’re able to run around, talk to people, interact with lots of different objects, and hilariously, tee up a ball at any time. The game uses this tee up feature to great effect for everything from giving out little bits of bonus XP and money when you hit random things to solving more advanced puzzles to unlock better equipment or new side quests.
There’s 8 unique 9 hope golf courses throughout the game all with their own clubhouse areas, themes, local npcs and music. You’ll be playing on each of these courses multiple times throughout the game, sometimes solo, against opponents or in tournaments. There’s also lots of little mini game style tasks you can do, all golf related of course, such as mini golf, and even disc golf.
The graphics are definitely retro with a 16 bit SNES style to them. Some features are oddly not sprite based such as text bubbles and course flags in the HUD. They always stuck out like a sore thumb to me. The oddest for me was each golf course’s flag which was oddly high res and animated compared to the rest of the elements on screen. I noticed it, but it never really distracted too much.
I feel like I should mention the text because even though it’s not pixelated like the rest of the game, the bubbles are very dynamic adding a great sense of playfulness to the game. A lot of comedy comes down to timing and the devs clearly know this and utilize their text bubbles to maximum effect that you rarely, if ever, see in games. For a game with story in the title it does an excellent job of presenting that story.
The music and sound effects in the game are great too. Each course has its own theme song and there’s at least two different songs per course that you’ll hear as you play the holes. It could have been repetitive given how much of this game is golfing or the music could just be really generic such that it fades away but I’m glad to say it isn’t. I want to call out the awesome theme that plays when you’re putting because what it was was very surprising but somehow also fitting at the same time. But no spoilers, so I’m not even going to describe it here.
The story itself is actually pretty straightforward with no massive twists or turns but it does do a good job of taking you through the game’s courses and locales and talking to lots of people which is where the comedy really shines. The devs will also use the story to set you up with handicaps. Just when you think the matches might be getting easy you’ll get partnered up with a horrible golfer and be left fixing their mistakes the whole match.
- There’s two player local multiplayer which on the Switch is always appreciated.
- I came across a couple bugs throughout the game which required closing the game and reopening it to fix. Maybe 3 the whole time.
- I’m not sure about replaying Golf Story. Once you’ve finished the story there really isn’t much left to do. A skirmish mode against harder AI than what’s found in the main story would have been nice.
- There’s actually a couple non-golfing based story missions that show up in the later half of the game as well which was a nice change of pace.
Golf Story surprised me to be honest. I didn’t expect to be playing a retro golfing RPG on the Switch but here I am, and I really enjoyed it too. Golf Story manages to deliver an excellent golfing game wrapped up in a compelling and funny story filled with a diverse cast of characters that I couldn’t put down until it was done.