Evan Hatfield is a sophomore journalism major and writes "Never Being Boring" for the Daily News. His views do not necessarily agree with those of the newspaper. Write to Evan at email@example.com.
It's not often a game comes out of nowhere and captures a good amount of the gaming public’s attention.
It's even less often the game in question ends up being about golf, of all things.
And yet, here we are: first-time developer Telltale Studios’ Nintendo Switch game, “Golf Story,” which came out Friday, has somehow lived up to the hype that's been slowly developing since the game was announced in May.
The game takes ideas from both golf games and RPGs; as you go through the game, you’re able to level up the main character and make him a better golfer. That may sound a bit unusual, but the combination of the two genres goes back almost 15 years to “Mario Golf: Advance Tour.” The two genres work together surprisingly well, so it's nice to finally have another game that makes the most of the pairing.
The golf gameplay itself is just fine; it works like it should, the courses are fairly varied, and there’s really not much more to say other than that. If you’re just interested in the golf, there are plenty of games out there that will serve your purposes much better (but then again, “Golf Story” is cheap enough that it might be worth a try anyway).
Where the game really shines is in the pure charm it brings to the table. Whether it's the classic 16-bit-esque graphics, the subtle hilarity of the story mode or even the variety of gameplay on offer, there's no shortage of fun to be had.
The story mode is a quirky sort of fun from the word “go,” even if only because of how far off the beaten path it can get. For a game like this, it's not surprising to have a main character who dreams of going pro; what’s far more surprising is the trials and tribulations said character has to make it through. For example: who'd have thought we’d ever be able to play a game where one of the goals is to kill a skeleton army with golf balls? It's pure insanity at points, and it couldn't be more fun.
One of the game’s bigger issues lies in its difficulty. It’s not even that hard of a game, but there are moments when the direction could be far clearer than it is.
As if harkening back to the graphics of the 16-bit days wasn't enough, the developers apparently have hoped gamers will also come back to the prime strategy of that time: trial and error.
The game often leaves you to your own devices to figure out what you're supposed to be doing. This is all fine and well, but it does lead to that typical frustration video games can bring to the table.
Case in point: the game gives you the basics to be able to play disc golf so you can complete a quest to move forward in the story. What the game doesn't do is tell you how exactly you're supposed to keep the disc moving.
It makes for a frustrating 15 minutes, and for a relatively laid back game like this, that may still be about 10 minutes too much. There's a satisfaction in getting past challenges like this, but that wasted time accumulates fast.
Not helping the story mode’s case is that some of the characters are fairly annoying and have personalities that don't seem to progress past one dimension, let alone two dimension. Granted, I don't expect the world's best story out of a golf game, but it could still use a bit of fine tuning.
Thankfully, the worry shouldn't last; the minor faults that are there right now don't take away from the wonderful atmosphere the game puts together.
It helps how receptive the developer has already been; a patch to address the issues players have had is apparently already on the way.
“Golf Story” is by no means a groundbreaking game — most of what it's done has been done before, and no doubt will be done again — but honestly, why should that have to matter? It's still a wonderful game, and not having much new to bring to the table shouldn't prevent it from getting a fair shot.
Even if the idea of video game golf only sounds slightly interesting, the $15 price tag is so reasonable for the amount of content and enjoyment you get that it’s worth the buy.
Sometimes it's nice to be able to turn to video games for the sake of pure relaxation. For “Golf Story’s” flaws, it still does a great job of letting you do that.