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Golf Story on Switch
Golf. There’s no other sport quite like this one. It’s often perceived as a pastime for the privileged, folks who spend their weekends on the greens, yelling “Fore!” when the heavy white ball veers ever so slightly out of bounds. Golf Story embraces that side of the sport, but also tosses it out the window in favor of telling an underdog story about a man who leaves his family for one last crack at fulfilling his childhood dream of becoming a professional golfer.
Decked out in beautiful 2D artwork and sprite models, Golf Story evokes the SNES era nostalgia of moving your characters about on a pixelated 2D plane. The graphics are simple but charming, and the game has already succeeded in capturing a timeless look. The story here is fairly simple as well. Golf Story opens with a short prologue that also serves as a tutorial for the basic controls. Our unnamed male protagonist is with his father on Wellworn Grove, where he learns to drive the ball into a cup. The basic golf gameplay is easy to get a hang of, and it adopts the three-hit meter that Mario Golf fans will be familiar with.
The golfing itself is enjoyable, and there’s nothing more satisfying than hearing the snap of the club as it hits the ball precisely, allowing you to execute a perfect shot. The systems start to get a little more complex as the story goes on, and players are soon introduced to the different types of meters you can play around with when hitting the ball, and you can even choose how you want the ball to spin and land after taking a crack at it. If you’re not interested in Golf Story’s RPG elements, the game offers up a Quick Play mode where you can just mess around with the different courses and clubs as you wish. Because of the game’s graphical style, golfing is done from a top-down perspective, so you won’t really get the kind of precision you might expect from a more traditional golf game, but there’s still quite a bit of fun to be had here.
On the RPG side of things, Golf Story has a lot to offer. The entire story has you unlock a total of eight different courses, all packed with side activities and challenges for you to complete. It’s through these side missions that you’ll really get to see Golf Story’s charm and lighthearted humor. The activities range from trying to help a mischievous child get out of a croc-infested lake to digging around for a red bandanna to keep that grumpy old man on the course happy. There are also more golf-oriented challenges that test how accurately you can hit the green under certain conditions.
As you unlock them, the eight courses are all open for free roaming and exploration. The main story can be a bit of a drag at times, but you can ignore it, and just wander around the courses talking to different people and taking on different challenges. These activities themselves are pretty goofy as well. One minute you’d be trying to avoid hitting an area where moles can steal your ball and put it in a bunker, and another you’ll be trying to stop zombies from taking over the course.
Completing a challenge rewards you with both money and experience, and each level you gain gives you skill points that can be invested into various stats to improve your abilities on the course. In turn, money can be spent on new and more powerful clubs to help you tackle the tougher tournaments. The real meat of the story lies in the nine-hole courses and nail-biting tournaments you’ll participate in with Golf Story’s most cocky and pretentious golfing pros.
Playing through the story from start to finish, I clocked in at around 18 hours as I tried to spend time tackling most of the side activities the game had to offer. Golf Story has a surprising amount of content packed in, and that’s not even counting the Quick Play mode which comes with local multiplayer features as well. While testing the game in tabletop mode with two Joy-Cons, the controls took some getting used to because of how small the controllers are, but it’s ultimately still a pleasant golf game experience to take with you on the go. I opted to play the single-player campaign in handheld mode, and the game’s use of the Joy-Cons’ HD rumble felt nice, with a soft but satisfying shake in your grip each time you landed the ball in a hole.
The plot in Golf Story isn’t the most gripping or complex, but its world and characters simply ooze with so much charm it’s hard not to fall in love with it. Though the gameplay mechanics on show here might not be as deep as you’d want from a proper golf game, Golf Story is still a wonderful delight to play from start to finish, and it’s a gem of an RPG that Switch owners shouldn’t skip out on.
Score: 4/5 – Great
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