Developer: Sidebar Games
Publisher: SideBar Games
Release Date: 28th September
Price as of Article: $14.99 £13.49
Golf story is about a young kid learning to play golf with his father. His father teaches his son how to play the game at Wellworn Grove There is something about the geese on the greens which seem to put people off trying to putt but not this kid. 20 years later our protagonist wakes up and it’s obvious he did not make it as a Pro golfer. You wake up and decide today is the day you are going to go back and do everything you can to become a professional golfer. You go back to Wellworn Grove and this is where you begin your journey. For me it didn’t really matter too much whether golf was one of my favourite sports or not. What drew me in was wanting to see where this journey of wanting to be a golf pro would take me. The struggle from the beginning is something everyone can identify with, no matter the sport.
The audio here really fits the game well. I really enjoy listening to the backing tracks of the game and the use of stringed and brass instruments is quality. I love how the game changes when you are about to take a putt. The music feels like you have a load of pressure on your shoulders so it fits really well. Just ambling around and the music choices all feel just perfect for this game, each new area having its own little theme song.
The sound effects sound great especially the celebratory sound when you are successful in winning a challenge or equally a dissatisfying sound when you fail. It’s satisfying when you hit the golf ball and it sounds right when you land in a bunker or in the rough.
The only thing I really wish they would have added was voice acting but I suspect this would have added huge costs to this project.
Visually I find the game to be really pretty for lack of a better word. As I spoke about in my preview, I really like how attractive it all is even though pixel art style is used here. Even though it’s an Indie game the visuals are good at depicting the differences between the rough, fairways and greens. The game is, by all intents and purposes, 16-bit. The different areas all look really nice and unique.
The graphics are pixelated and you either love this style or you don’t. I grew up playing many games in this style so for me I very much enjoy the retro look. The game looks both great in handheld and in docked mode. Some may think of it as being a bit blurry. If you’re into the latest graphics then of course this may not suit your tastes.
First of all let’s talk about the modes – there is a quickplay option which is important to mention because it means you can play 9 hole matches against a friend. You get to choose the course dependent on whether you have unlocked them in story mode. If you like, you can even play a quickplay on your own and see how well you do with your scores. It’s fantastic that you have the option to do this. The main bulk of the game, however, will be spent no doubt in story mode, at least at first.
The gameplay is really quite unique as you get to play a mash up of 2 genres in one in story mode which at first you would think don’t go that well together. It’s kind of like having Pizza with pineapple, it just shouldn’t work but it does and it’s yummy at that.
With Golf Story you actually have a very competent golf game and we will start on this. If you have played golf games in the past then you will have come across a variety of control methods and types. Here the game opts for simplicity and all for the better. To take a shot in this game you will have to stop a moving cursor. You will have to stop the cursor as close to the mark to get maximum power on the left of the bar. As the cursor moves back you then have to stop it again on a mark on the right and this is to see how true you hit the shot. Too far left or right and you will end up either slicing or hooking the shot.
First of all you choose the club you want to take your shot with and the game will show you how far you will be able to hit the ball with the club you choose. You have your woods, irons, sand wedges and putters here. Then you will set up the direction of the shot and, once happy, you press the button to activate the shot bar. Once the shot bar is activated there are a number of things you can do. You can change the spin on the ball so that when it lands you can have some control of where the ball goes, especially on the greens. You can use the triggers on the Switch to activate precision mode where you will be able to, if good enough, hit the ball more precisely but it requires better timing from you. There are all sorts of parts to the game which you learn as you get further in from hitting the ball flat to hitting the ball higher in the air. The disadvantage of hitting it high is the affect the wind will have on the ball – much more so than when flat. You even learn the potato shot but I will leave that to you to find out yourselves!
Another thing you can do is shorten shots by holding the trigger buttons down. If you get the shot just right you will hit a powerful and accurate shot. If you time both the power and accuracy just right you will hit a power shot but this will end up going further than you anticipated and is best used for fairway drives. When you are stuck in a bunker or all manner of other hazards then the shots become more difficult and the curser moves quicker, making it harder for you to time. All in all there is a very good golfing game here which has a depth to it which was not expected at first. You can play a normal round of golf or take part in all kinds of cool little challenges like hitting fish or trying to hit the golf ball at certain targets. One challenge where you actually have to just hit bunkers on the way to the green was difficult but great fun as well. You have another where you have to bounce balls off of turtles and another hitting coloured balls to birds. My personal favourite was killing the undead!
It’s not the best golf game I have ever played in my life but the variety of things you can do with it more than make up for it, and the challenges are a really fun bonus.
Pushing you along through the game is a story where you are trying to become a pro golfer. As you begin you will be a low level character just like in any good RPG game. One of your first quests has you going off on a mission to impress the coach in order for him to train you. You will need to explore the first area and figure out how to make money. At first it will be from challenging some of the snobby students on the grounds to taking part in Frisbee throwing.
Other challenges include hitting a golf ball on a tiny green or pulling off a shot where you have to bounce the ball on a path and then onto the green. With each challenge you win, the more money you make and the further you level up your character. Each of the challenges is a quest if you like, you can then put the points you gain to level up stats like power or accuracy. So I mentioned having to impress the coach but you will be easily side tracked with all the little cool things you can get up to. However once you take part in your first 9 holes and beat the course you head back to your coach. The game follows this theme throughout. With each new area you explore you will have to complete a number of challenges. Once complete you will then have to beat the gold course which is 9 holes to move onto the next area. The game is quite linear in terms of moving the story along but you can choose which side quests you want to do in the meantime or explore whenever you like.
I like the fact that if you just want to T-Up you can do so on any of the holes and hit a few balls. I think the freedom to do that is just plain brilliance. I enjoy the fact that there are some little mini games as well like throwing Frisbees or throwing the golf ball with your hands to hit a target area. You can also just whip out a golf ball and chuck them at people!
There are a couple of negatives and, maybe it’s just me, but a little tip without spoiling it, you will need to equip certain equipment at certain times to move forward with certain quests like any good RPG. However, it’s not always obvious that you can equip certain equipment when away from the golf course and a little tutorial would not have gone a miss. The turtle quest, for example, when looking for the idol, I got stuck on for more than an hour. A good friend of ours figured it out but it also took him a while. Parts like that could have been made a little clearer as it can lead to you running around not having a clue what to do. This will leave some a little frustrated.
As you go on, the challenges become tougher and the matches you play become more difficult and it’s up to you to make your character as strong as possible in terms of your golfing skill to face these challenges and matches. Anyone who has played golf will know that it’s the course that can have dire consequences on your game. On top of negotiating that little white ball to the green you will have moles moving your ball if you hit the ball in their area, bunkers and tar pools as well as the rough, wind and other nasties later on in the game which I won’t spoil. Lucky then that you will have had a fair bit of practice by the time you have your first match.
The role playing side of things sees you chatting to NPCs and gathering information. At the start you will need to make the coach see that you are good enough for him to spend time on you. You have a dodgy swing and he is not sure you can make it Pro. It’s up to you to prove him wrong. There will be people along the way that send you on quests. Some will be essential to complete to move the story along and others will be side quests so you can pick up some extra coins to buy better equipment. This equipment will also make you better in the long run. Again this is not the best RPG you will ever play either but everything works well and it’s a very enjoyable experience.
The controls all work supremely well in both docked mode and handheld mode. I honestly lost hours in handheld just lying up in bed playing this one. The only negatives here is not everyone is going to take to it if they are not that into golf. The story is quite heavily focused on that side of things. Also if you are expecting this game to be the best golf game or RPG then it may leave you slightly disappointed. You have to go into this with an open mind and if you do I am sure it will completely surprise you.
Another thing I found was when I failed a challenge and you want to re try then you have to read through the whole part of writing again. This gets a little tiresome especially as you will fail some challenges multiple times. You can press B to make it quicker but a skip button would have been nice.
There is no doubt of the value to be had in this game. There is plenty to do and to keep you occupied. Lots of challenges and plenty of matches to win. The game will keep you entertained for a solid 15-20 hours and for the price of £13.49 or $14.99 you cannot ask for too much more. After that, you have the ability to play the courses either on your own or against a friend in the quickplay mode. Great stuff