If someone walked up to me and asked what I thought about the sport of golf, I’d tell them that it’s extremely boring. The only times I’ve experienced “fun” when playing golf is when my parents would take my brothers and I out for putt-putt as kids (good times!). My point being, it’s one of the last things on the list of “stuff Kaelyn cares about”. So reviewing a golf game, I was a bit worried about how I would feel and if I would really enjoy it. While I’m still not a fan of the sport itself, I can say that I am a huge fan of this game. I’m not sure if creator Sidebar Games knew just how big Golf Story would become. Yes, it’s a bit early to say that, but they have created something that I think is one of the best games available on the Nintendo Switch.

The Switch library is still a little scarce in my opinion so even though some people won’t agree with me, Golf Story is definitely one of my top five Switch-exclusive games so far. Imagine a sports game that plays like a retro, 16-bit RPG. Yes, there is plenty of golf, that’s what you’ll be doing most of the time. But there are tons of other quests to complete, a huge cast of characters, and eight unique environments to play in. The game begins with the player as a child and he’s learning how to play golf with his dad. This section of the game is like a mini tutorial, showing you the basic controls and how to play. After you finish that, 20 years go by and the character is now an adult. Things are not going so well in his personal life so he decides to head back to the old golf course and finish what he and his father started all those years ago.

When you show up, no one knows who you are and it’s hard to get taken seriously at first. You’ll have to work your way up from a rookie and prove yourself to everyone in the golfing community. The first area you play in is the one you visited as a child in the tutorial, Wellworn Grove. The name fits well because the course is a bit run down and it’s not as popular as it was in the old days. It’s now run by a sleezy, money-hungry manager named Lucky. After seeing some potential in your golf game, he takes the opportunity to make a little money and possibly put Wellworn Grove back on the map. Thus, the Golf Story begins! For such a simple theme the story is very well written and sticks to the subject matter in a way that keeps it entertaining and fresh. I really enjoyed each detail of the environments and the different characters who inhabited them. I also got a kick out of the majority of the games dialogue. There’s a lot of sarcasm and funny golf puns to catch. 

Besides Wellworn Grove, you can visit a beach area, a mountain area, a “fancy” area, a winter area and more. There’s a great sense of variety; even when you’ve played on a course before, you will almost always have a different goal or obstacle the next time you play through it. There are even some hilarious Frisbee golf references and quests “thrown in there”. When you complete goals or do something for someone you will receive experience points and money. You get stat points each time you level up, which you can use to upgrade your power, purity, spin, strike and ability meters. You can also spend your money on new equipment that will help improve your game or allow special shots. Once you start to explore the island and progress a little more you start to discover mini games and experience bonuses. You can even use your digging wedge to dig around and find treasure! 

When you’re ready to take a shot, you can pick the location where you want your ball to land with the joystick, then press A to confirm. After setting up your shot, the swing-o-meter will show up at the bottom of the screen. You’ll want to line up the markers and press A when you’re directly over the top of them. If done correctly you will hit a perfect shot. Things get a little more complicated down the road, when you have to start worrying about hazards, wind direction and slopes on the green. Factoring all of that in while still trying to create the perfect shot sounds complicated, but I got the hang of it really fast. I’m actually surprised how good I am at virtual golf, go me! If you fail any of your objectives or bomb in a tournament, the game will start from the main menu and you can try again. I didn’t have any problems with failing and losing progress, so it was really easy to jump back in and get back to the game.

Another super awesome thing about Golf Story is the Quick Play mode. From the main menu you can choose Quick Play and play a few rounds by yourself, or let a friend join. When I discovered a multiplayer mode, I was ecstatic. It’s just the right amount of side content to keep someone interested if while taking a break from the main story. It’s also a good way to get in some practice if you need it. You can choose which area you want to play in and customize the rules. There’s even a fun little mini game called Galf that you can play in multiplayer as well (this is also accessible through the main game). It’s kind of a meme but I think fans of retro golf games will really appreciate it.

The main thing that appealed to me before I played Golf Story was the retro graphics. The look reminds me of Earthbound and some of the old Harvest Moon games for Gameboy Color. The game looks great on the TV but it really shines in portable mode. It’s absolutely perfect for on-the-go play, it doesn’t seem to drain the battery too fast either, which is great. You can play with the Joy-Cons or pro controller, both were very comfortable but I always prefer the pro if I’m going to be playing for a while.

The in-game music isn’t anything super significant. Some of the different areas have themes that are catchy, while others are kind of repetitive and annoying after having to hearing them for a while. It’s a good thing you’re never in one area for too long or it would actually be worth complaining about. I also encountered a few bugs during my play through. Nothing that would crash the game, but little things like the screen flickering after a cutscene or stalling for a bit. These were very rare but they did occur. 

Ive put about 12 hours into Golf Story so far and I still feel like I have a long ways to go before I am 100% complete. It’s also one of those games that makes you want to complete every goal and errand for each character. As you can tell by my review, I had a lot of fun playing Golf Story, it’s officially the first golf game that I am recommending, ever. With the way this game was handled, I would love to see various spin-offs of other sports like soccer and basketball, heck I think Sidebar games could even make cricket entertaining if it was done the right way. This awesome little game packs in a great story and a lot of fun. I’m sure it will be a hit with Nintendo Switch owners. This is an experience that’s well worth the $15 price tag.