One would not think that an RPG centered around golf would really make a whole lot of sense, but Camelot managed to nail the idea back in the '90s when it released Mario Golf on the Game Boy Color. Though it’s a rather niche release in the plumber’s past, it clearly inspired the developers of Golf Story to expand on the concept, and honestly, there’s a whole lot to love here.
Golf Story picks up with your main character being taught how to golf by his dad, with an audience of geese to watch his performance, and this works as a nice way of introducing the main mechanics to you. The story then jumps ahead twenty years and sees your character looking to achieve his dream of becoming a professional golfer. The story then takes you on a journey through an increasingly ridiculous array of golf courses in a quest to be the best and to prove yourself to everyone.
One thing that Golf Story absolutely gets right is the charming and witty writing of the characters. Not only does everyone appreciate a good underdog story like this, but there’s a very dry tongue-in-cheek kind of humour that runs through the whole thing that calls to mind the style of EarthBound. Whether it be one of your rivals early on who refuses to actually golf in favor of the “simulator”, or a caveman that repeatedly mistakes your character for a small child, the narrative has a wry, lighthearted style that’ll keep you playing just for the characters, not to mention the great gameplay.
Though golf is central to the whole experience, gameplay is not simply a matter of hitting the green; that’s only a fraction of the experience. The overworld is riddled with things like secret buttons and holes that you can hit with your golf ball which can award you experience points or money, or unlock a secret area. Along with this, NPCs with sidequests are everywhere, and they have a vast array of requests. One might see you trying to land a certain number of balls inside a ring by bouncing the ball at least once off of a turtle, while another might ask you to run around the course under a certain time limit. You never know what’s coming next, and it’s rather impressive how creative the developers can get with quest objectives.
Experience earned from doing activities can be spent on improving various facets of your character’s swing, such as the length or how drastically you can shape the shot. In addition to this, money earned from winning games can be spent on new equipment pieces that add to your stats or bestow special abilities, like increased proficiency in bunkers. It all feeds into a rewarding gameplay loop that keeps you hooked and always wanting more. You explore and do quests so you can improve your character, which then allows you to do more exploration and questing.
Aside from all the RPG trappings, there’s a great golf game in here, too. The mechanics of the golfing itself are simple to pick up and quite arcade-like in nature. You play a little minigame every time you take a shot where you need to stop a slider on a bar in the right place. It gets more nuanced, however, when you use mechanics that allow you to specifically place the ball. You can choose how much power you want to put into the shot on the same trajectory and can also decide where the club connects with the ball, allowing you to add spin. Take into account the slope of terrain and wind, and you’ve got a golfing experience that’s got plenty of depth, but boasts easy-to-pick-up mechanics.
Presentation is nearly as stellar as the gameplay. Sprite work is exactly what you’d expect out of a 16-bit game and there are plenty of colours used in the environments, but there’s little here that will wow you in terms of visuals. Much the same could be said of the soundtrack, which goes for a low-key, jazzy vibe. It goes well with the general atmosphere of Golf Story and is unobtrusive, but there’s not much on offer in the way of catchy or memorable tunes.
Multiplayer also gets some representation here, and its utilized to great effect. Though there isn’t online, you can play with a friend locally in Quick Play — a mode which strips away the story and RPG elements and has you play on the game’s main courses, which are unlocked by progressing the story. Fortunately, split JoyCon multiplayer is supported, and the control scheme translates perfectly to the decreased real estate. Sure, it’s a much less feature-rich mode than the main story, but it’s fun for some quick rounds of golf with a friend and goes well with the broader idea of the Switch. It also illustrates perfectly the depth of the game's golfing mechanics; even with the RPG side removed, Golf Story is a lot of fun.
All told, Golf Story is a surprisingly gripping game, hooking you with fantastic gameplay, loads of content, and a well-written script. This is one that’ll have you coming back for many hours in the story mode alone, and the multiplayer does a good job of expanding on this with even more replayability. We would highly recommend Golf Story to anyone looking for something a little different. There’s a whole lot to love here, and if you’re a fan of RPGs or golf games, this is a must buy.
NIce review. This game is top of my wish list come payday (the game where I learn to rob a bank!)
This came out already? I might buy it very soon. It's a shame that newer Mario Gold and Tennis games don't have those grtea RPG modes anymore. Well, that saves me money for games like these.
Number 1 in the US eshop charts. Number 2 in the UK.
Someone will still find a negative somewhere though.
Also loving this. However, played multiplayer with the Mrs last night with split JoyCons and really missed the ability to use the camera to look around the hole. Does anyone know if you get this back in multiplayer if you have an extra full-size controller?
Another switch gem
Nice review and nice score.
Glad I've made the purchase last night. Had just enough credit left to buy it. Looking forward to playing it next week when it's back to university.
It's funny how I have no interest in golf whatsoever, but I'm still captivated by this game. I just reached the second area, fun ride so far.
Only thing is, it doesn't explain much. I've never played the Mario Golf games or any other golf game for that matter, so I don't really know what I'm doing. But despite that, I've beaten all the challenges I've come across, so that is probably a testament of accessibility.
Nice review, really looking forward to get this one.
This game is the Balls!
WOW ! Sounds great and is on my list but now I have my snes mini I have so much to play so this will have to wait !
I've played a couple of hours, and I'm about to finish the 3rd 'world'/ course. So far I'm absolutely loving it. I'm not huge on golf at all in general, but the gameplay is fun in an arcade-sports-game kind of way. The RPG elements, the adorable world and the gorgeously detailed pixel art really back the gameplay up nicely.
The sound and music feel a bit ... well, just generic to me. Not bad, but as of yet nothing really stood out to me. Due to that and any lack of voice acting, turning the sound of and/ or down, while watching TV on the side, hasn't really hurt my experience with the game.
My only real gripe is that I wish there were some options to customize the controls somewhat. They work fine, but I'd rather not have 'aiming' and 'changing clubs' on the same (left) stick. Also, the stick sometimes can feel a tiny bit to loose to me for that last bit of precision.
The story is alright, I would have loved for a few more laughs and chuckels out of it. There have been a few, but mostly it was somewhere between somewhat-charming and rather-forgetable.
Anyways, I can totally underwrite that 9/10. The small issues with forgetable sound, okay'ish writing and not-quite-pitch-perfect controls aside, it's about as perfect for this type of game as things can get. Highly, highly recommend to anyone who can stand this kind of retro game + golf + RPG-lite.
Man, I must be too perverted because that "A hole-in-one" description next to the female character image made me think that the reviewer was trying to make a perverted joke. I feel like a dirty child now...
Excellent. Was looking forward to this and seems to live up to my hopes.
Yup, absolutely brilliant game.
It fills the gap left by the half-assed "Sports-RPGs" Camelot put out on the 3DS.
Golf Story is much more closer to their GBA games, just a tad more "out there" and less cut and dry sports sim.
Highly recommended for anyone with a soft spot for RPGs and a slight interest in golf games.
Opted for picross s over golf story this week, but will be sure to pick up down the line
@Fazermint Yeah, that probably its only real weakspot:
It doesn't really teach the fundamentals of golf and its tutorials for more advanced techniques are "all over the place".
As someone who played the crap out of the GBA and GC Mario Gold games, this one pretty much felt like second nature (apart from the different control scheme), but for a newbie, i bet its a tad harder to swallow.
But if you liked that game, try to get your hands on the GBA Mario Golf. A but more serious in tone, but its a much better teacher
Got it day one, but haven't been able to play it just yet, as I've been moving. It's going to be my sweet sweet resting prize once I'm done later today.
Bought this game and played for an hour so far. I'm in love with this game! So much fun! $15 well spent!
Not generally a fan of RPGs, or golf games that don't star Mario, but this game is great. Really enjoying it so far. Best indie I've played on Switch.
Just downloaded it last night. This review has me hyped to start it.
It sounds like something that could easily get overlooked, but is actually a great game.
Loving it so far! A bit buggy here and there but I'm glad when you quit and save it puts you back at a door or beginning of town.
@Ardisan I'm now absolutely convinced that's what they were going for 😂
@Ardisan Good! You should lol.
My only complain is that you can't chose to play as a boy or as a girl, but the game is excellent. It is a must buy if you liked Mario Golf GBC or Mario Golf GBA!
This game is amazing! I can't stop playing.
Awesome - was hoping this got a good review
I think I might get this, no interest in golf but love sports RPGs. If only s good soccer rpg could come..
@kobashi100 while this appears to be an exception to the rule, CoD, GTA, Fifa and the like spends months at no.1 in the charts...the charts are for chavs - evidently.
I'd like a demo as I'm on the fence somewhat.
This is the first time I really, really regret that I don't have Switch yet (second will be on the 27th of October I think...). Switch has some nice indie games.
Great score and review. GBA Mario Golf was my ultimate chill out and relax in bed game, and this brings me right back to those days. Oh, and the sad little sound the HD Rumble makes on Out of Bounds shots makes me laugh every time. For a new team, this is a really impressive accomplishment.
Glad this has turned out well.
Brilliant fun so far. Tickles my funny bone. Charming and fun to play, easy to get to grips with. I'm all fore it. Bought it over Thimbleweed Park and don't regret it one bit.
I personally have but one gripe - the rumble is very intense in portable mode, especially vs. the Pro controller (which is perfect). Wouldn't mind so much but it vibrates every single time you press A to advance dialogue. In an RPG style game it's a bit much.
I'd like to see it disabled for dialogue and possibly also reduced in intensity when in portable mode (or menu options to that affect). It's a shame because the rumble is so good outside of the dialogue.
So basically it's portable Mario Golf but with no Mario. Awesome, I'll check it out once I need more Mario Golf nostalgic.
Was a day-one purchase for me. Perfect game for the Switch.
This is for Mario Golf what Stardew Valley is for Harvest Moon.
@BustedUpBiker pretty sure you can turn rumble off in the settings. I can see why you might not want to do that though.
Cute game but the 9/10 score is silly. This has as many bugs as Lego Worlds. Dialogue boxes obscured by logos in both games, but in this case it's a fixed camera. There's a also disc challenge that hides the target from view. You shouldn't get 9/10 with such a rough launch state, and it's condescending to overlook these just because it's an indie game.
It's also far far far too easy (at least up to the first few levels that I've played so far)
Like others here, I'm not a massive golf fan but this is my next purchase. Followed by steamworld dig 2.
Good gaming times ahead!
Knew I had to get it since I saw the trailer on the nindies showcase. Didn't disappoint. I've run into quite a lot of bugs already though, not game breaking ones, but a bit annoying.
Anyone on the fence, get it. The score is more than deserved, even if you don't really mind about golf this game is really fun, and deep.
@BustedUpBiker Completely agree about the HD rumble, and it’s something I’ve noticed in a lot or Indie games, where the rumble is much more intense than it should be…
Watched the trailer, read the review, purchased it. But I hate golf. What's happening?!
It's a bit buggy, but I adore it nonetheless.
So far I’m really enjoying this game. I almost always play switch in docked mode, but this seems like a great portable experience. If you like arcade golf or old school rpgs, check this out!
I wasn't going to buy this until I saw a GameExplain thirty minute video of it. I was sold. It really is a fantastic game with great dialogue and character. I agree with the review; solid addition to any digital collection!
Haven’t picked this up yet because I’ve been spending too much on games, but it’s on my wishlist for sure.
Edit: Also waiting for a patch after seeing the list of glitches from reddit.
Great game, I bought it just to scratch the old gameboy golf itch.. and now I'm as hooked as when I played Mystic Quest for the first time! BRILLIANT..!
I'd love a crt filter though..
My country suffer from Hurricane Maria recently and I have no internet save from the Metro area which is a 1 hour travel from home. No communications system outside Metro but I did travel to download this game and make this comment. Lol, I know priorities. But this game deserves the effort. Thankfully I'm ok and family I do hope that the families that did got affected get the help they need.
Nice review btw!
Bear in mind there are a number of issues the developer is planning to patch: https://www.reddit.com/r/NintendoSwitch/comments/739f9z/master_list_golf_story_is_great_but_has_issues/
Well that settles it, this game is pretty much a must have game for people like me who happen to love both golf ganes and rpgs, it was practically designed specifically for me! I kinda want it right now but I am plenty busy with other games, a terrible conundrum for most Switch owners!
@BustedUpBiker: I don't know if that's how you choose to spell "for", or if you were being clever. I'm going to assume you were being clever. Hats off to you.
@Everyone_Else: Looks like a great game, & at a reasonable price, I guess. I would prefer it be $10, but $15 is ok, I suppose. If I ever get a NS, this will eventually be somewhere in my collection of games for the console, but I would end up getting other, high-profile games first, like Odyssey.
Another one here not into golf games yet this captivated me to buy day one...and it's a top game.
Easily an 9 out of 10 score is justified
Mario Golf GBC didn't come out in the '90s. Pretty sure it was 2001, one of the last GBC games before the GBA was released.
Thanks for the review.
Got the game yesterday to play on my bus ride home and I really enjoyed it. I wasn't wild about some of the music and the main character bothers me for some odd reason, but I really like exploring the area and the gold mechanics seem to be very good. Highly recommend it to anyone who likes golf games or RPGs.
Just got this, as an Rpg fan and golf fan I'm looking forward to playing this later today
Ok, I'm sold on it. Downloading tonight.
I played an hour or so of it last night. Very cute. I like the relatively simple golfing mechanics as well as the retro-style graphics. I hope I can impress the Coach.
I'm still working through Steamworld Dig 2, and with Mario coming not sure I have time for this one. On the other hand, it looks great! I had Axiom Verge preordered, but with all these great games I'm working on I cancelled, it will have to wait. What awesome problems to have.
@Joekun I know what you mean. I'm thinking about cancelling my pre-order for Doom as by then we'll have Mario, Xenoblade 2, Rime, Skyrim, and, of course, Farming Simulator. And, hopefully, Gear.Club Unlimited will be good, too.
I'd still like to pick up Axiom Verge, but I think that one will keep moving down the list a bit.
I was expecting it to score an 8. Looks great and I really want to get it. Part of me wants to play Mario Golf on the GBC and then the GBA version first.
Downloaded it and can't wait to play later!!
@Pazuzu666 physical PS4 and Xbox 1 charts anyway chavs and 13 year old boys
I'm the black sheep that disagrees with this review. This game is a PURE 10 in every single way. It's games like this that define why I'm a gamer. I've been a gamer since the Atari 80's and this is the first time I've ever contacted a developer to praise them for a product. I would buy 3 more copies of this if it would let you just to support them. I hope this becomes a series and nintendo would do good if they just straight up bought sidebar games as a exclusive developer. These devs will 1up camelot games, mark my words...
If this game came out on the same day as odyssey, I'd be playing this. To me, this is GOTY material...
I think this may just be the best golf game ever, omg...
This game's a BLAST.
Sweet, I'll try to keep this in mind when I get a Switch. Reminds me of Legend of a River King a bit, but not to the point where I'd rather play that instead. Seems like enough of its own thing.
I bought that !%*?#@! Switch because of this game. Not kidding. 😬
A bit buggy, but will probably be patched soon... To be expected perhaps for an original game that debuted on the Switch (Not a port of a Steam game as many other indie games are...)
Bought it, to support the devs (once the game falls off the charts, it will be harder for it to become a success). Didn't regret it one bit.
If they bring this to 3DS im all over this
Will add it to the wishlist once they fix the bugs
When I saw this name pop up, I assumed it was part of the Kairosoft line of mobile games. What a nice surprise to have something like this come out of nowhere. Will definitely be a day one purchase when I buy a switch.
Loving it so far!
This game is too much fun to stay exclusive. When do you think it'll show up on PS4/XBO/PC?
I've enjoyed it a lot so far, had it freeze up a couple times and was forced to restart but it didn't hurt my thoughts on it.
Looks like it could really be excellent. $15 is too steep though for a digital rental so I hope a nice sale comes along or it gets (even if it cost a bit more) a physical release. Looks more Mario Golf GBC instead of GBA so that is a good thing.
@cmk8 That's quite the list. I don't believe I've noticed any of those. I did have to wait about 30 seconds for my ball to stop bouncing on a tree before it hit the ground. That was odd.
Freezing for me too. And with no save without quit I'm replaying a lot of filler.
@riChchestM if you press + and then go to quit.... then you can choose 'save and quit' - avoids replaying filler
Really enjoying for the most part, mixing between that and Thimbleweed - both awesome
Why would I want to quit a 9/10 game every few minutes because I'm worried it's going to crash? That said, it does look like the game does autosave at some points, but provides no visual feedback of this. There's also no way of seeing how much money I have without trying to buy something. It's a fun game but it's more like a beta or Steam greenlight type game now.
I am absolutely in love with this game. I equally like the core golf mechanics as well as the dialogues and weird characters. I think u need to play it urself to fully appreciate it
I couldn't get past the awful music in this one. The nice looking 16-bit visuals (aside from the ugly comic sans font used for dialogue) should be married to similarly nice, catchy chip tunes. Instead it's a series of dirges played by someone who clearly has little musical ability. It's truly dreadful and killed the game for me.
@Peach64 it sadly has none of the charm that Kairosoft games have.
@riChchestM I think if you push the start button, then you can see your current amount of money.
Finally got a 128GB card and downloaded this game. Loving Golf Story so far. 5 hours into it.
There are several soft crashes in the game, such as the guy asking for the bandanna, which forces me to restart the game. The computer at the clubhouse can also trap you if someone else is using it, again forcing me to restart.
Those bugs aside, this game is really solid. Amusing dialog, solid controls with movement that feels right (not too slow, not too fast.) Would have loved to have a bit more control with the swing direction and adding spin, though, since the Switch's analog sticks are a bit soft.
I wish they would think of porting this to 3DS.
@moroboshi I would be so happy to see Kairosoft release some games for 3ds or Switch. I just love their stuff.
This is on the Christmas money wish list
Is this game any good for someone who thinks that golf is one of the most boring sports in existence? Because I’m really tempted thanks to the reviews, but I really don’t like golf...
@Ardisan there's nothing wrong with being a pervert
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