Golf Story review

I wasn’t too interested since this was a golf game, but it was also an RPG and people who bought it before me were being fairly positive about it. So I figured why not.

Let’s go and see if it was good!

Developer: Sidebar Games
Publisher: Sidebar Games
Date of Release: September 28th 2017
Platform: Switch
Genre: Golf RPG

Rated E for Everyone

Presentation

This takes on a 16-bit style, with small, kinda square-ish sprites. Some have compared it to Earthbound which isn’t a terrible comparison. I do find the sprites lack a bit of personality compared to something like Earthbound but they still look pretty cool. The personality is more in the text than in the character animation. I mean, otherwise it’s a golf game, lots of green though some levels change the color of the grass. As far as usability it’s great, you’ll never have issues figuring out what kind of grass you’re aiming at. There’s lots of info on screen, and there’s even a visual representation of the wind outside of the arrow on top that shows wind direction. It’s not a game I have any issues with visually, except in one of the story segments where one of the items you can pick up being really not obvious at all.

A cool thing it does is it messes with the speech bubbles a lot. Makes them move around, stacks them, changes the font-sizes, makes the HD rumble in the joycons make different noises to you depending on the animation of the speech bubble… it’s surprisingly cool.

The sounds… well it’s golf, not much to say here. The music is fairly unmemorable but never annoying. Pleasant but not something you’ll find yourself humming later.

Story… you start out as a kid learning Golf from his dad but there’s lots of geese for some reason. Time jump to the present, the same kid had given up on golf, but wakes up one day and decided to get back into it, planning on becoming a Pro. And that’s about it. there’s all sort of wacky characters, the writing has lots of jokes and clever writing and the main character is really stupid but in a kinda endearing way. There’s a lot of really random situations that happen. The ending comes a bit too abruptly though.

Gameplay

Golf and RPG are combined to make a story-oriented game where the basis of the gameplay is the golfing itself.

At its core you’re running around in a classic JRPG style, either running into story segments or talking to NPCs with speech bubbles over their heads to either play golf or do golfing challenges. You can actually tee up anywhere in the game (and your character has infinite golf balls), as there’s some puzzles or hidden objects/holes for you to hit in the various areas.

Playing golf or doing sidequests will reward you with experience points and money. Money has a fairly limited usage, as you’ll basically just be able to buy a few of the golf club sets that a few of the stores sell. Other than that I don’t think money has really any use. Experience points give you levels when you get enough. Leveling is pretty weird in this game. The main stat is power, which determines how far you can hit at a maximum (alongside bonuses from your clubs). As you increase power the other stats go down, which actually makes sense. The other stats are Purity (how straight your shot will go), Strike (accuracy), Ability (control) and Spin (how good your backspin and top spin will be). Purity is one you want to keep in the middle (which the game calls “essentially pure”), while all the others are better the higher they are.

Sidequests are usually just accuracy challenges. At some point it does get a bit annoying IMO.

The golfing itself is pretty solid. Surprisingly the physics are quite good for a 2D game. You get what seems like pretty standard gameplay for a golf game. First you see where your shot would go, not counting the wind, depending on your club. You can switch clubs, and if you have certain equipment you can increase your accuracy, tee up anywhere or increase your power (up to only a certain amount of times in a match). As long as you’re aiming your shot you can switch between aiming, precision mode and hit mode. Precision mode allows you do change your aim, which adds a symbol in your power meter which enables for your shot to be more accurate. Hit mode changes where you hit the ball which changes the curve of the ball, which may let you hit over/around trees, as well as change how much the wind affects you. Then when your shot is finally lined up and stuff you can hit it. This works in a pretty normal power meter like you’ve probably seen in most golf games. The further along you get in the meter the harder and further you’ll hit (precision mode helps a lot though), and after pressing the button to set your power you need to press it again when the marker goes near the beginning to determine your accuracy. Plus if you hold R or L as you hit the ball you’ll do either a top spin or a backspin… That’s a lot of shit to do but it enables lots of control.

Of course there’s always the standard stuff like bunkers and water and trees, but this game adds a few other obstacles. Birds, greens that are actually roughs, molerats, turtles that actually help you and ice. Each does different things and might have their own gimmicks. The molerats protect an area and if a balls goes in there they grab it and put it in a bunker. The birds are similar but their color determines where they’ll leave a ball. Turtles have an area in the water, and if your ball gets in that area they’ll come out and knock the ball further along which can help. It’s pretty interesting.

Overall

Golf Story is a pretty charming game with fun writing and solid gameplay. The RPG elements are a bit on the low side, but there’s decent amounts of content, and I’m sure a few secrets to find. To me though I got kinda tired of accuracy challenges, and the few variations of gameplay like drone golfing and disc golfing and Golf on the NES (here called Galf) aren’t terribly interesting.

That said the game is glitchy as fuck and crashes every other minute. The Galf minigame is especially broken, and since there’s no way to get out of it the softlock requires resetting. Actually most glitches I got required I reset the game. Thankfully it auto-saves a lot so it’s not a huge problem. Still sucks that sometimes talking to an NPC freezes the game.

Overall, if you want something that’s somewhat similar to something like the Camelot Mario Golf RPG on game boy color, this is probably the closes you’ll get.

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