While an RPG based around golf may seem strange on the surface, “Golf Story” (2017) is one of the best indie games on the Nintendo Switch. As its name may suggest, “Golf Story” is a story-based game with golf as its subject, but it has the presentation and gameplay chops to back up its charming story.
The story is straightforward. You play as an amateur golfer trying to make it to the pros. Where the story shines, however, is in the humorous, bizarre and absurd characters and situations. Among the cast are all the stereotypes: the arrogant antagonist, the fiery friend and the insightful instructor. “Golf Story” quickly shirks these tropes by having you play against a ghost who died before competing on his course, engage in geo-caching quests or steal golf balls from alleged snow bandits. The areas all feel unique, whether you are on a course straight out of the stone age or one set in a tropical paradise. Each has its own aesthetic and wonderful music.
This music ended up being one of the highlights of the experience. The soundtrack is outstanding, sounding upbeat, somber or joyful depending on the situation. Alongside all of the major elements contributing to the story, one small aspect stands out and adds more than would be expected to the game.
The way the game presents conversations is worthy of praise. Rather than being hindered by its lack of voice acting, “Golf Story” utilizes the text bubbles and subtitles in a way unlike any other game I have seen. The subtitles vary in font and size to convey tone and volume, and the text scrolls at different speeds, and text bubbles will shake or move to impart the speaker’s meaning. In the “story” aspect of “Golf Story,” the game lives up to its name.
In regards to gameplay, “Golf Story” fares just as well. Every golf shot is based on a three-click system, where you determine power and accuracy. Unfortunately, the game does a poor job explaining the consequences of a poorly timed shot, leading to some trial and error before you get the hang of it. Once you do figure it out, however, it is simple and easy to use, resulting in fun gameplay across the various courses.
Just as the courses are varied in aesthetics and music, they vary in gameplay. One course has moles that steal your balls and reposition them, while another has turtles that can bounce your shot across the water. One of the few failings of “Golf Story” is that there is no way to restart a course or a challenge. Some of the challenges are brutally difficult, and even if you know you won’t succeed, you have to play through until the end before you are allowed to start over. In spite of a few flaws, “Golf Story” is a game that should be in every Nintendo Switch library.