A fun, charming, and strange hybrid of golf and role-playing
Nerdy Professor Impressions
Golf Story is an odd duck. Part Mario-sports-style golf game, part Earthbound-esque RPG, this charming title from Sidebar Games caught me by surprise. As a fan of both RPGs and golf (in games and in real life), I decided the first time I saw it revealed in a Nintendo Direct that I’d have to try it. But I never expected to enjoy it so much. As most reviewers have noted, the writing is sharp and clever, creating characters that are endearing and fun, quirky situations through which to see them. For me, these characters – many of whom are downright mean to the main character on his quest to make the pro tour – were the main draw of the game. I grew to like the characters and wanted to see the story though to its conclusion, which took about a dozen hours. Although Iw as mostly drawn to the characters and story, there is a very competent, albeit simple, golf game here. I enjoyed hacking my way around the varied courses and engaging in silly challenges, whether they involved landing enough shots in a particular area, having a long-drive challenge with a cocky professional, or hitting flaming golf balls at blocks of ice to un-freeze local players.
As much fun as I had with Golf Story, there are definitely frustrations. Numerous players have reported bugs and I ran into a few myself, forcing me to close the game and restart on several occasions. I also got stuck on trees, bushes, and fences several times. But a few other nagging issues stood out. I regularly found myself lost. Sometimes, this seemed the result of a limited top-down field of view (more on that in a minute). But other times, the next step in a quest seemed completely nonsensical, even reminding me of the obtuse elements of old adventure games, where the player was supposed to know to combine the golfish with the orange juice to turn on the lightbulb. The field of view was also quite annoying when actually playing golf. Many quests require you to hit a ball to a certain spot, and several courses have multiple paths to choose from on certain holes. The game does allow you to zoom out a bit and pan slightly in each direction, but they are far too limited. In fact, finding the correct area often required going through all of my clubs (to see different distances) and spinning in circles to see the entire surrounding area. This frustration can be fixed with the ability to pan the camera out and move it more freely, but as is, it was a constant annoyance in an otherwise fun title.
Ultimately, if you like RPGs, give Golf Story a shot. If you like RPGs, give it a shot. If you don’t particularly like either but enjoy quirky experiences, give it a shot. At the very least, you may find yourself in the middle of a rap battle.
(Click on the website names for links to the full reviews.)
Metacritic: 82 (as of 10/15/17)
IGN: 7.5/10 (Good) – “Golf Story’s clever writing and sound golf fundamentals keep it entertaining, even through some stale moments. Despite its light-hearted RPG structure, there’s a challenging and very real golf game here that’s worth coming back to even after the story is over. But it left me wishing that more of the campaign focused on the golf itself, and less on the often repetitive side tasks.”
Eurogamer: Recommended – “This isn’t the greatest golf game there’s been, although it boasts some deceptive depths. It’s not the greatest RPG, either, though its charm wins out over any clumsiness. What it most definitely is, however, is an irresistible and harmonious combination that makes for one of the finer games you’ll find on Nintendo’s Switch this year.”
Game Informer: 9/10 – “Golf Story is a refreshing and unique role-playing experience that succeeds as a golf game and story….A continual delight to play, Golf Story is a breath of fresh air for sports, and another fun story to follow for role-playing fanatics.”
Destructoid: 9/10 (Superb) – “As a golf RPG, it is more golf than RPG. But with solid mechanics and consistently sharp writing, it’s engaging from beginning to end, even if it isn’t the game I expected.”
Nintendo World Report: 7.5/10 – “A few nagging issues might draw down the experience, but the golfing is fun enough to work in tandem with a wacky story and world to make a genuinely enjoyable adventure on Switch.”
Nintendo Life: 9/10 (Excellent) – “Golf Story is a surprisingly gripping game, hooking you with fantastic gameplay, loads of content, and a well-written script. This is one that’ll have you coming back for many hours in the story mode alone, and the multiplayer does a good job of expanding on this with even more replayability. We would highly recommend Golf Story to anyone looking for something a little different.”
Pocket Gamer: 9/10 – “The golfing element is fun, the story is interesting, the characters are great, and the game’s unlike most of the things we’ve seen on Switch so far. So, if you love an RPG or a golf game, I can’t recommend this enough.”