Golf Story is a game that came out for the Nintendo Switch about a year ago now. I had my eye on it for several months before came out, and bought it pretty shortly after release, because I loved that it looked like a classic – I was gonna say Super Nintendo era, but actually it’s more the GameBoy Advance era that it recalls for me – a classic Gameboy Advance era Mario sports RPG type of game. I have very fond memories of playing the old Mario Golf and Mario Tennis games, and it was clearly from the start that this was picking up that style.
In Golf Story you play as a kid (er, maybe a middle-aged adult?) who stopped playing golf some time before the game started due to something with his father, and has now decided to pick the game up again because of something to do with his girlfriend (maybe wife)? You set out as an amateur on a quest to make it to the pros! You work your way through several amateur level matches on a variety of different courses (each with their own terrain and hazards) in order to build up your reputation so you can compete in a pro tournament.
What’s interesting about the game is the RPG aspects, which effectively mean that you spend most of your time not actually playing golf. Instead, you travel around and really get to know the world and the characters in it, helping them with such epic quests as mowing the lawn, stealing golf balls from snow bandits, and sticking eyeballs in to reanimated skeltons’ faces… You do a lot of weird stuff, but most of it’s pretty golf themed, with a lot of it iss accomplished by either throwing golf balls at something, or by just dropping one on the ground and teeing up, which you can do anytime you want. It’s these random interactions that make the game memorable, more than it’s actually core story (hence me not remembering the age of the character or his initial motivation).
As I said before, I picked this one up right when it came out about a year ago, but I didn’t finish it until this past week. It was fantastic from the very beginning, but I fell off somewhere around the middle of the game because of other stuff coming out. Picking it up again was easy, though, because the mechanics of it feel so good. Hitting the ball is just like every other golf game on the planet, with one press to start your string, one to determine power, and another to determine accuracy, and you can also adjust where you’re hitting the ball, along with top and back spin. It’s standard, but it’s done well.
The game also looks great, with lovingly animated pixel art throughout, and a special focus on making conversations animated. Dialog is presented throughout as speechbubbles over characters heads, but uses things like angled text, multiple bubbles popping up at once, and various text sizes to really convey emotion in every interaction.
If you missed out on Golf Story, I would absolutely, wholeheartedly recommend picking it up! It’s a pretty cheap game, has a ton of content, and will especially tug at the nostalgia strings for those of us who grew up on SNES and GBA. Go pick it up, and get to work on that swing!