By Dan Popoloski —
Indie games often try to pay homage to games past from bigger developers, but there are a few times when those reimaginings surpass their source material.
Sidebar Games’ RPG/sports game Golf Story blows past everything Mario golf games tried to be in the past. It does so by framing an interesting narrative through hilarious moments and solid gameplay across eight courses, creating a must-play experience on the Nintendo Switch.
Sure enough, the focal points of the game are golf, and the story. The plot it is a fairly common sports tall, with no one believing in your character being able to become a pro golfer. Your journey to the professional tour is told through a series of hilarious dialogue, as well as laugh out loud and bizarre moments.
You start out on the course that your dad raised you on, Wellworn Grove, with a money hungry owner and a bevy of outrageous rivals-in-waiting. Just to get things going, you need to complete some quests and poke around to find money for a golf lesson.
This gets the ball rolling (pun intended) on a journey through eight courses, from a sunny beach to snowy tundra, and everything in between. It doesn’t cover just golfing tournaments, but wacky events as well, such as a zombie attack, a rap battle, and a murder mystery for good measure. While the core narrative isn’t anything original, the characters that push it along ooze charm and will make you beg for more. Every click is a joy in a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
The golf itself controls like any other game in the genre before it. It has the traditional three-click scheme to determine the distance and accuracy of your shot, and it works well.e. There are options to aim for specific points, or to hit with more power, providing more control with your club.
Though the basics of golf are present, Golf Story does a good job of tossing in some unique obstacles to spice up the courses. Birds steal or redirect hits and other times you have to strike balls into open graves. The variety makes sure everything is fresh, and that golfing never gets old.
But Golf Story doesn’t stop with just traditional golf. Instead, there are several other gameplay modes integrated.. The user can go from mini-golf, to flying a drone to disc golf..
The RPG elements are blended together with the golf effortlessly. You solve quests and complete skill challenges throughout the courses to earn cash and gain experience. Money is used to purchase better clubs, while the experience increases your skills after leveling up. There are trading sequences, foot races, and even a bit of Pac-Man involved. With the skill system, you can work your way into developing a game that best fits your style.
One of the coolest aspects of the game is the ability to drop a ball anywhere, and tee off. Anywhere.
This is used to solve various puzzles throughout the game, find some secrets, or even just to check out every NPCs unique reaction to getting hit in the head with a ball.
Despite all of these great features that set Golf Story apart, it still goes above and beyond to push it into elite status. First, is a multiplayer feature, which allows you to go back through all of the courses and play against someone locally. The second is the ability to play an NES-like golf game in the world, complete with originally designed classic manuals. It’s little touches of charm like those that puts the game on another level entirely.
However, there is a minor flaw with the lack of a free camera while on a course. At the beginning of each hole, you are provided a survey of where you’re going, but after that, you’re on your own. You can only see a small area around where your ball is expected to land. On longer holes it’s difficult to find different approaches that could improve your score. This is only a small quality of life improvement, but in a game this great it needs to be pointed out.
In an industry where releases can drone on and seem repetitive, Golf Story stands out as a breath of fresh air. It tells a great story with a bevy of endearing characters that make the whole 20 hour journey something to savor. If you own a Switch, this game is an absolute must buy.