Welcome to Susan Arendt's latest column on Pocket Gamer. In 2018 we've recruited the best writers and most experienced gamers in the industry and asked them to inspire us. Today Susan takes a look at Golf Story, a game all about balls, clubs, and tracking down werewolves...
I am willing to bet you lunch that you don't have a strong emotional attachment to golf. Football, yes, tennis or baseball or basketball, sure, but golf? Nah.
But that will change as you play through Golf Story, a hilarious RPG about a plucky young loser hoping to make his mark on the links. He also has to vanquish the undead, roust some punks, and then there’s this whole thing with bird eggs, but really, it's all about the golf. Sort of.
Don't get me wrong, the golf in Golf Story is quite good and surprisingly difficult, despite the game's rather ridiculous storyline. You'll want different sets of clubs for different environments (that windy mountain top is a PITA) or to suit your particular golfing strengths, and you'll need to put genuine effort into improving your swing as the courses get more difficult.
But the Golf isn't really the main draw of Golf Story; the Story is.
Mario Golf and Hot Shots are both fantastic golf franchises, combining faithfully simulated gameplay with whimsical exteriors. Throw in some trick shots or stunt courses for flavor, and you've great approaches to the game.
But that's all they really have to offer: the game of golf. Golf Story isn't as intricate as those others, but it genuinely makes you laugh as you progress through its saga. You have a rival! Your coach is looking for redemption! There's a werewolf! (Maybe. Probably not. You’ll have to do some investigating.)
The story never gets in the way of the golf, instead providing an engaging reason to keep getting better at the mechanics of the game. Hitting targets at various distances will help you learn which clubs do what, but it's just a little bit more fun when you’re feeding alligators instead.
Side quests give you a way other than playing yet another back nine to raise your stats. There's nothing wrong with just playing a golf game for the golf, of course, but Golf Story's alternative approach is utterly delightful.
The problem with sports games is that there's only so many ways they can differ from each other. Baseball is baseball is baseball; you either have the MLB license or you don't, and your mechanics work or they don't. For all its crude humor and "adult" trappings, Outlaw Golf - which I put to you as the greatest golf video game of all time - is still a faithful golf sim when you get right down to it.
Golf Story doesn't get into the nitty gritty of its titular sport as much as other games, to be sure, but it gives you just enough to satisfy your craving for precision while also giving you plenty of other things to think about and enjoy.
Golf - the kind that's played out in the real world - is stuffy and solitary. A good walk spoiled, as the saying goes. But the golf of Golf Story is a more than a lonely attempt to come in under par.
Your club is the sword you wield to vanquish your foes. The course is a trap-filled dungeon you must navigate. You are on a noble quest to restore honor to your house and maybe find a way into that secret building where you can play minigolf. It is the perfect way to usher in your summer.
Read more of Susan Arendt's columns on Pocket Gamer, and find out more about Golf Story at the game's official site. If you're looking for more columns, then check out Harry Slater and Jon Jordan, who are always on-hand with sharp, tasty opinions too.