Since its release in March, the Nintendo Switch has become the perfect vessel for retro gaming. SNK offers some classic titles, while point-and-click adventure Thimbleweed Park is available to play. Stardew Valley, meanwhile, will be available in just a few days, so things are certainly looking up for the Switch beyond its first party offerings.
So, it’s funny that I can wholeheartedly say Golf Story, a new sports RPG from Sidebar Games, is the most fun I’ve had with the Switch since Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Don’t like golf? Don’t like RPGs? Golf Story will win you over with its charming graphics, quirky humor and engrossing story.
I had no idea I wanted a game like this until the trailer for Golf Story debuted at the end of August. Even then, I figured the game couldn’t possibly live up to its promising trailer, which brims with nostalgia for games like Harvest Moon. But I downloaded it last week, and I’ve been hooked ever since.
Golf Story isn’t just a game about golf. In fact, as you progress beyond Wellworn Grove, it becomes more about helping people and uncovering secrets. From the start, players take on the role of an underdog character who is determined to make it as a golf pro. But as you begin to learn the ropes, a number of obstacles get in the way.
At Wellworn Grove, for example, molerats have invaded the course’s squalid greens. And the reason behind their insatiable need to steal golf balls will have you busting up. Everywhere you go, there are fun side quests and challenges that help further along the plot, from finding long-lost treasure to returning eggs to a flock of angry birds.
Along the way, you’ll learn how to become a better golfer, leveling up in the process and acquiring better equipment. But new clubs and accessories can be expensive, so completing challenges is important if you want that $300 putter, which can only be acquired by beating a course run by weird scientists who know nothing about golf.
Those are the type of people you’ll meet along the way. Wellworn Grove is filled with sinister characters, like Lucky, who just want to earn a quick buck. You’ll also meet cavemen, folks who for some reason don’t wear shirts, devious groundskeepers, and everyone in between. Every character you come across has something funny to say, so interacting with people is always a treat.
During the three or four hours I’ve spent with Golf Story, never has it felt tedious or overwhelming. You don’t grind to earn XP, and the game is just hard enough to pose an interesting challenge. Achieving the course record in Wellworn Grove is no easy task, but it’s very satisfying once you finally get Coach’s approval.
All of which is to say, even if you dislike golf, give Golf Story a chance. The mechanics make golfing a lot of fun, and the charming characters will have you coming back for more. Where else can you hit golf balls at an undead army run by teenagers who are mind-controlling molerats?
Golf Story is available now for the Nintendo Switch for $15.
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