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So far, my experiences with sports game reviews have been more miss than hit. I want to be able to fully enjoy them, but I don’t find the gameplay from more simulation-focused sports games all that fun, and then you have indie developers that want to make retro/arcade-style sports games, but totally forget why they are fondly remembered. The last true sports game I reviewed was a hockey game called Old Time Hockey, and I didn’t have fun with that one. This is because it’s all the more important that when I find one that I like, it sticks with me, and it makes me want to talk about it, and make sure other people get to play it. It’s why I love WWE All Stars, but didn’t enjoy Project Cars. Thankfully, when I got a code to review Golf Story, I installed it on my Nintendo Switch, and found myself playing hours of it at a time. Yeah, Golf Story is really good.
Golf Story revolves around a young man who dreams of being the best golfer around. He goes to the golf course that he trained at as a child, and sadly, it has seen better days. It’s now run by a sleazy individual, and unknowing to you for some reason, you decide to help him out anyway to get the course more famous. You then meet a slew of expert golfers and work your way to becoming number one! The game’s story can be touching, but for the mass majority of the experience, it’s more comedic than serious. It’s touching and engaging enough to keep you invested, but you will definitely be staying for the laughs.
Golf Story is, well, a golf RPG. Here is how this works. The small, but expansive overworld you run around in will have multiple golf course locations with their own quirks, courses, and story-based quests and side quests. Your goal in the main story will have you competing across the different courses, and beating opponents by upgrading and playing with different sets of clubs. So, is that all you do? No! You solve every single problem in this game by playing golf! Need to feed the fish? Golf swing some food into the lake. Need to return some eggs to a bird? Golf swing their eggs back to them. What about helping out this ghost guy open up his own golf course? You guessed it, golf! Even the game admits that it’s a tad silly that you solve everything by playing golf. However, that is not the only type of golf you get to play. You also have disc golf, drone golf, and miniature golf! Even on top of all that, you have an ‘easy to set up’ local multi-player mode where you can play with friends on your couch. For an indie sports game, that’s hugely impressive and it has a lot of worthwhile content that isn’t pulling a 2K Games where they are forcing you to purchase loot boxes and microtransactions.
Golf Story’s biggest achievement, besides its 16-bit art style and variety in gameplay, is the massive amount of personality in terms of the characters and surroundings. Don’t get me wrong, the 16-bit-style graphics are great. I love seeing the trees blow in the wind, everyone just idly moving up and down, the way the game captures 3D space when you hit a ball when nothing that I saw was in 3D, and the very vibrant color pallet. However, the humans don’t really have a lot to them, but the developer uses their text boxes when they speak to show their personalities. Texts boxes will move around, and with font in all different sizes definitely show off more character to the individual golfers. It just shows going that extra mile can help give your game some life. The music is also pretty fantastic. It’s more calming than anything else, but each golf location has a unique and laid-back vibe.
My one major problem with Golf Story is that the game itself doesn’t really do a good job at explaining some of the mechanics. I literally looked around on the net at what I was supposed to be doing, and for a game that has a pretty solid tutorial section, it does a poor job at telling you how to do other things. I also found myself not loving a lot of the side activities. I enjoyed the main quests, the mini golf, and drone golf, but any time I think about doing disc golf, I cringe and hesitate because the controls never really stuck to me. I tried countless times to get it down, but I couldn’t find myself having fun. I get where they were going with it, but I never found it entertaining.
Overall, I really loved Golf Story. It’s easily one of the best indie games of the year, and one of the Nintendo Switch’s best games. If you have a Nintendo Switch, I would highly recommend making this one of your primo purchases for the console. It offers personality, variety, and fun gameplay for a 3rd of the price of most big-budget games. You will definitely be having many nice shots with this sports game.
This game gets a 9 out of 10.