Golf Story (Switch) Review
Golf Story is one of the biggest surprises of the year; we knew the game existed but knew almost nothing else about it, which is something that doesn’t happen very often these days. What we did know about Golf Story was that it was a Golf game, it was an RPG and had similar mechanics to the brilliant Mario Golf series — it sounded too good to be true, but luckily that wasn’t the case here.
From the minute you boot up Golf Story you’re smashed in the face with charm, the 16-bit graphics are a welcome break from the 8-bit indie trend we’ve had for years. If it wasn’t for the modern overlays you could be forgiven for thinking you’re playing a SNES game. The charm doesn’t stop at the graphics — the characters, the way text pops up on screen during a conversation in combination with HD rumble, it brings you into the game and brings the characters to life. Golf Story starts off with the main character as a kid being taught to play golf with his dad (and something about Geese) but it’s basically the way the game introduces you to the Golf mechanic. Twenty years later you set off to become a professional golfer; the problem is the world is filled with people who are standing in your way.
The story isn’t serious as that sounds, it’s filled with a crazy cast of characters and some of the freshest, funniest writing this year. We might a little biased, but to see the game basically in “Australian” language and not boring old English is a laugh and a half. There are slang and ways of talking that people outside of Australia aren’t going to appreciate, but sucked in — we get it.
As you progress through the game you’ll go through a number of different golf courses all with a different theme and with different kinds of people to talk to. There’s more to it than just going from course to course and playing nine holes — there’s a ton of interaction and side quests to do for people as well. Some of these are just fetch quests and races but then there’s things that tie into the golf mechanics, like trying to bounce balls off turtles to land shots, tracking mole rats by lobbing balls at them and even full side diversions like disc-golf. Disc Golf, you torturous thing. If anything is the weak point of the game it’s disc golf. This is golf with frisbees and its learning curve is ridiculous, unfortunately. You have to do it for the game’s story to progress at points, but after that you can leave it well enough alone.
The golf itself is very well done; basic shots are easy and use the three-click system we’ve all used before. More advanced shots can be done with Precise Mode and there’s also hit point mode to adjust where exactly you hit the golf ball. This allows for curved shots to get out of tricky spots, of which there are many. While there is a lot of straight-up golf, there’s also a lot of games where you’ll need to avoid birds and mole rats to keep things under par. As you complete challenges and progress through the story your character will level up and receive cash. Levelling up allows you to upgrade your skills and money can be used to purchase things needed throughout the game and also upgrade your well-worn clubs.
HD Rumble is one of those things that unless you’ve played something with it, its hard to understand. In 1-2 Switch we got a good look at how it could be used in a variety of different ways. No game since has really done anything quite as ingenious as Golf Story does. Everything in Golf Story has some sort of tactile of haptic feedback – as you hit, as you talk, when people yell its all fed back into the HD Rumble to convey whats on screen as feeling. When you’re playing golf and the ball drops in the hole, it feels like a ball dropping in the controller. When your ball goes out of bounds the HD Rumble actually makes a “wrrrrrrrrr” sound like its falling off a cliff. At first, I thought this was out of the game itself, but it was actually coming from the controller motor. Sidebar Games have been super inventive with how it works. There were some oddities like when playing the game in the tabletop mode with the Joy-Cons attached you couldn’t use the Pro Controller, but if the Pro Controller was on first the HD Rumble would still come out of that.
Those aren’t the only bugs in the game, with there being several game breaking ones reported already. There’s also moments where objects would get stuck on NPCs and you’d be forced to reboot the game. Sidebar Games say they’re working on this which is great to hear.
It wouldn’t be a Switch game without some sort of local multiplayer either. In Golf Story you can choose “Quick Play” from the title screen and play with the courses you’ve already encountered during the game with a friend. You can tweak various settings like the gear you wear, choosing between match or stroke play, and you can also change the courses to have giant holes or even windy weather.
Golf Story is a completely charming game and is packed with great humour, tons of content and simple but fun golf mechanics. Even if you don’t particularly like golf there’s still a ton of fun to be had. Golf Story offers one of the most compelling packages on the Switch eShop and is up there with the best the store has to offer.
- Great story and characters
- Fun Golfing action
- HD Rumble use
- Disc Golf
- Some annoying bugs
- Music can be repetitive