When I look back on my childhood gaming there is one game has always stood out, Mario Golf for the Game Boy Color. The game was a riot and it was different. Mario Golf allowed me to pick a character, of course I was Kid, and work my way up to face the biggest and baddest golfer of them all, Mario himself. Mario Golf was your typical golf game but it was the first game in the series to introduce Role Playing Elements, allowing you to level up your character and become a better golfer. Over time these RPG elements were ditched from the series. Since then I’ve only had my fond memories of Mario Golf, I’ve never found a game quite like it since. Golf Story is a trip down the nostalgic lane, the closest experience I’ve had to the Game Boy Color version of Mario Golf. Golf Story is by no means perfect game but I highly recommend it to anyone who is a fan of golf games.
Golf Story follows the protagonist attempting to reclaim his love of golf after a 20-year hiatus from the game. The dialogue is charming and will have you smiling from ear to ear at times. Just be ready to be told how bad you are at golf, seriously like every other line of dialogue is a constant reminder. No matter how good you get you will constantly be reminded that you are terrible. It reminded me a lot of a recurring South Park joke that goes from funny, to annoying, back to funny all in the same episode.
The main story moves along at a brisk pace but gets bogged down by repetitive side quests. Golf Story is a coming of age story about golf but the meat of the gameplay centers around skill challenges. You will spend the bulk of your time hitting specific clubs into target areas. Although fun at first these skill challenges can get repetitive fast. Thankfully you don’t need to beat these side quests to beat the main story.
The pixelated 2D art style feels right at home on the Nintendo Switch. The art style is very reminiscent of another heavy hitter from this past year, Stardew Valley. The game looks gorgeous but unfortunately I noticed quite a bit of screen tearing while playing with my Switch docked. This isn’t a deal breaker but I’ve noticed it multiple times. However I have not had this happen while playing in handheld mode so it seems to be an issue that only happens while playing with the Switch docked.
Gameplay follows the tried and true three-click system. The first click sets where you want to aim, the second click sets your power, and the third click sets your accuracy. The X and Y buttons allow you to enter Hit Point Mode and Precision Mode, which allows you to change where you strike the ball and alter the amount power on your shot respectively. It doesn’t take long to master the controls, by the end of my first round I had the controls down pat. Once you master precision mode you can really start logging low scores. In the upper right corner of the screen there are two arrows that account for the wind and the slope of the green. The slopes on the greens are one of the biggest issues with the game. The arrow indicates the slope but there is nothing that shows the slope on the green itself. There were many times I hit what I thought would be a great shot only to see my ball zoom off in the wrong direction because I forgot to take this into account. This also makes putting tricky, oftentimes leaving you with a putt just to the outside of the cup. Some type of indicator on the green, arrows showing the slope perhaps, would have gone a long way towards fixing these unwanted errors.
Golf Story is at its best when it throws the traditional golf tropes out the window and accepts the zany possibilities that come with being a video game. Over the course of your adventure you will stop a zombie apocalypse, tee off to alligators, bounce shots off turtles, and tee off on a snowy golf course. Adjusting to these obstacles can lower your score dramatically. And there is no better feeling than failing multiple times trying to figure a shot out only to finally nail it. Golf Story truly shines through in these crazy situations.
It also must be mentioned that there is a game breaking bug which thankfully I’ve only experienced once. I came out of a skill challenge unable to move my character. I could turn his body any way but he wouldn’t move and I had to restart the game. Thankfully I didn’t lose any progress because the game had just saved but it could cost someone a few rounds of golf if it pops up at the wrong time.
Golf Story isn’t a perfect game. The slope issues can cost even the best golfer strokes off their score and the skill challenges get repetitive fast. But even with these issues there is a charming, fundamentally sound golf game that took me back to a much simpler time in my life. If you’re a fan of golf games or have ever played Mario Golf on the Game Boy Color this is a must own. Just remember you’re a terrible golfer and nothing you do will change that.
DEVELOPER: SIDEBAR GAMES
PUBLISHER: SIDEBAR GAMES
RELEASE DATE: SEPTEMBER 28, 2017
AVAILABLE ON: NINTENDO SWITCH