Golf Story is a golfing game with an RPG twist. It was released on the Nintendo Switch in 2017. Developed and published by Sidebar games. You play as an up-and-coming golfer who wants to compete in the pro league.
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Unlike your typical golfing game, this one focuses more on the RPG aspects. The golf section is easy to pick up. If you have played Everybody’s Golf you would be right at home here. Press the A button to start your swing then press A again to select the power on the power bar. Then, press A again at the correct moment to do a perfect shot. You must consider the wind speed, direction, as well as the sloping nature of the course.
As you progress through the story you gain exp. Once you accumulate enough exp, your character levels up. You then receive stat points that you can then use to level up 5 areas. Unlike other RPGs, if you level up your drive power, it reduces the effectiveness of your other stats. If you only focus on the strength of your swing, your accuracy will decrease.
Due to this, your endgame character will be the same as another person’s endgame character. It would have been better if you could invest in special abilities or limited the amount you can improve.
You earn money from completing missions. The money can then be spent on new golf clubs that have enhancements over the equipment you are provided. While this is a nice feature, you are limited to what you can buy. Not by lack of funds but by the game only allowing you to buy 2 new things per new level. Which considering you earn a lot of money on the very first level, it seems like a waste of time.
Making Golf Fun
Many of the quests aren’t your normal golfing rounds fare. In one quest you feed fish by hitting plants into a specific area. Another quest involves you using a metal detector to locate the treasure. Then using one of your clubs to dig up said treasure. This game could have focused on trying to complete rounds of golf. Instead, it makes the game varied and interesting. There is a disc golf (frisbee) game as well. But don’t call it frisbee in front of its fans.
As you progress through the game you meet a colourful band of characters, and environments. Each area has a different biome. One is an overgrown golf course, another is a course very high. They bring with them different hazards. In the starter area, there are mole rats that will pick up your golf balls and put them in bunkers. In another, there are fish who will push balls out of the water onto the green.
Another cool feature is that you can drop a golf ball anywhere and take a shot. This provides the opportunity for side quests. One of these side quests unlocks a crazy golf level. Others provide exp boosts and money. You will need to go out of your way to find these and sometimes it’s not easy to spot them. Even so, most of the time it’s not worth worrying about and sticking to the main missions shouldn’t be an issue.
Even though it seems to be a light-hearted game it can be very challenging. I took to a second playthrough of the game and it still felt difficult. Keeping your scores at Par or below when there are so many factors to take into consideration can halt your progress. If you are stuck on a quest that you can’t progress, then there is no chance of going round the quest to continue the story.
The visual style is very like Stardew Valley. Which is appealing and will never get old. The characters are colourful, and the environments are vibrant. They match the tone of the game well. Even so, I would have liked to see the game in what it would be like as a 3D full-fledged game. But for an indie title, they used the resources they had well and didn’t bite off to more than they can chew. It’s also surprising that it was only released for the Switch. It would have done well on the PC.
An issue with the graphics is that levels must stay level. There are slopes but you must rely on the slope indicator which only shows the slope of the spot you are currently on. There is mention of a second game in the works. I am hoping this can be fixed or lose the visual style to make it more challenging. But I love the visual style. So it may be as simple as changing the view from top-down to behind the golfer and make it a 3D plane.
The music is what you would expect from a retro-esque game. It’s pretty basic. Once you’ve listened to it enough times it blends into the background which is neither a good nor bad feature. The sound effects are satisfying and match the cartoony style. When playing any sports game, the soundtrack very rarely makes an impact and it’s the same here.
For a handheld golf game, it is pretty good, but with Everybody’s Golf on the PSP/PS Vita already I would expect a lot more. I m hoping in the sequel, the developers can start having a 3D viewpoint. Only going back to 2D when a shot has been made. It’s a great game to pick up and play. I haven’t tried the multiplayer, but from the solo campaign, I don’t imagine it would be much fun. Based on the above I’m only giving this a 2/5. It has a lot of potential in the sequel which I am looking forward to playing and I will give it a chance. But this one is definitely going back into the backlog.