The golf-based RPG you never knew you wanted.
Role playing games are no stranger to unique settings, but the recently released Golf Story from Sidebar Games aims directly at one that seems, on the surface, much more mundane: golf and golf-related activities. Cast as a plucky, dedicated, and almost entirely ignored hero, players adventure through a variety of themed courses, ranging from a prehistoric tar pit to a beachside resort. While the main goal may be to become the greatest golfer ever, there are plenty of strange hurdles along the way.
With graphics and music reminiscent of the SNES days, Golf Story invokes memories of classic RPGs like Earthbound and Secret of Mana. The visuals are charming and well done, and each area has a distinct design to it, although some do stand out above the others in terms of creativity. Gameplay is simple to grasp, yet complex to master, as nearly every quest or task is solved by, of course, playing golf. That isn’t to say that every moment is spent on the greens; puzzles are solved by bouncing shots over trees, digging through sand with wedges, and ricocheting off friendly giant turtles. In fact, a ‘standard’ round of golf is much less common than a unique challenge that just happens to utilize golf-based mechanics. Golf Story may be less for fans of golf, and more for fans of physics-based puzzles.
One of the best parts of Golf Story is the variety of actions the player must complete using their clubs and wits. For example, the hero must target a child swimming too far from his mother, in order to alert him of a nearby crocodile. A secret mini-golf bunker, packed with scientists, is only unlocked by hitting hidden switches throughout the course. An archeologist needs your help digging with a sand wedge to uncover lost dinosaur bones. Though the core mechanics of the game stay roughly the same, the puzzles remain fresh and challenging throughout the entire experience.
Barring a few moments where the ball physics can become frustrating and somewhat illogical, Golf Story is a joy to play, and will take most players 10-15 hours to beat, although there are countless medals and high-scores to beat. For Switch owners looking for a quick game with some satisfying depth, Golf Story is a welcome, clever, and inexpensive challenge.