If you've seen The Legend of Bagger Vance or Caddyshack you might have an idea of the spirit that characterizes Golf Story, the new title of the semi-strange Sidebar Games for Switch that has quickly climbed Nintendo's eShop rankings. For a folk of football enthusiasts it is particularly difficult to find a poetic in the art of throwing a ball in the hole, yet - as is often the case with the Anglo-Saxon sport - one can find an extremely romantic side, not to mention epic, in this ancient discipline. It's a bit 'the optic with which the subject is dealt with in the game, and perhaps the Australian team origins are reflected in the passion that comes to the golf under the tune of tone. The climate remains as light as in the classic Camelot productions that clearly refers to Golf Story, but also deeply self-ironic as it has been difficult to see in Mario Golf or most of the Japanese RPGs, the two genres to which this production refers most . Just in this tone, perfectly maintained in balance between the epic of the role play and the fun representation of a world that revolves around golf, is the element of the strange formula of Golf Story, where every challenge is fought with poker and ball and the battlefield is sprinkled with nine holes to center. If that seems ridiculous, it's because it's a bit, and the game is the first to highlight it with its world full of funny and bizarre characters, perfectly characterized by well-written and rhythmical dialogues, which unfortunately still require a good knowledge of English to be appreciated in full.
Golf Story opens with a flashback where the protagonist, kid, is learning the golf rudiments with his father in front of a crowded public of geese, who apparently have invaded the field creating little discomfort. Already this first scene is emblematic of the style adopted for the whole Golf Story game: dialogues and staged events are humorous, at the grotesque limit in some cases, yet the general atmosphere and musical accompaniment let a poetic note underneath the honeycomb. A moment later we find the protagonist who grew up and somewhat lost, but suddenly came to a conclusion: to go back to where everything started on the golf course, and to show everyone to be able to keep the promise made to his father and become a professional.
It is not therefore a matter of saving the world from a metaphysical threat as in most RPGs, but on the other hand there is something deeper than the simple will to win a trophy and that is the balance we referred to as a constant element in the whole Golf Story game, which is revealed between the story of a will of revenge and nostalgia of the house and the structure that remains always and in any case linked to the game of golf. This is also reflected in the progression, set to compete along eight nine-hole tracks, but always presented as a real RPG quest and embedding the races within a sequence of well-connected and justified events from the narrative background. As a result, all the intermediate and smaller challenges scattered for scenarios, always based on poker, ball and holes to center, are also presented as sub-quest by the colorful characters that make up the contour cast. Traditionally, the different parts of the main quest, or the different tracks on which to compete, have different settings and each one is inspired by a particular theme (the starting field, the desert with prehistoric finds, the mountain, the sea coast, and so on) ).
As Link always goes behind your sword to be able to take it out at any time, even the protagonist of Golf Story always has available bats and balls, which can be drawn anywhere in the map to try some launch. Gambling areas are particularly dense with points of interest and things to do, with secondary ones all focused on any golfing digression more or less possible, so it is in the shooting mechanics that exhausts the whole gameplay kernel. This is based on the familiar system of the three touches, which is then typical of Mario Golf: a first touch starts the cursor, a second sets the power of the shot and the third is based on the precision, all elements to be calculated according to the classic variables of distance, wind and inclination and soil consistency. Additionally, it is possible to determine the impact point of the bat on the ball and an additional precision modifier, applying various effects to the trajectory. It is a rather intuitive and fundamentally arcade system, which is ideal for keeping a good pace considering the amount of launches we are doing during the game.
On the other hand, an additional enrichment of mechanics is given by the acquisition of new "weapons" and abilities. Completing the Quest lets you earn money to buy new equipment, enriching the inventory of bats with different features and adding accessories that can change and unlock new abilities. There is in fact a role in the management of the character, which in addition to expanding his "arsenal" makes a real growth with the acquisition of experience. The transition from one level to the next allows the distribution of various points on the basic statistics consist of power, purity, precision, skill and effect, but with an interesting system of cross-dependencies for which the increase of a parameter is reflected on the automatic variation of others for a logical principle of compensation. As befits a game for Switch, is also a local multiplayer allowing you to compete simply by playing golf on the unlocked maps in RPG, but this is a mere side dish to the main subject.
We are now accustomed to 2D productions that mimic the classic 8 and 16-bit production style, but the Golf Story graphics are based on a style so clean and consistent that it is still remarkable. There is a cure in really uncommon details, from the wind that moves the leaves to the animations of every single creature on the screen that can make Golf Story world particularly alive. This also contributes to a wonderful characterization that gives a specific identity to the characters that you encounter along the way: in those handful of pixels you can perfectly understand the types we are dealing with, both for the movements that identify them and for the 'It's a great job of writing dialogues, but marked by the ingenious dynamic use of balloons in comic style.
All this suits well to some lack of mourning that could emerge from a story that obviously shows limits, being circumscribed to this particular golf-based world, making the exploration of the various environments anyway interesting and stimulating interaction with each single character that appears on screen. You never know what to expect from the Golf Story NPCs, since dialogues are seldom trivial and every little sprite seems to have a very specific life and a very specific character. It's really a shame that no localization has been made in Italian, also because the gangal expressions and the slang used in various cases can make the texts for those who do not have a good command of English uncomplicated. Complete this excellent framework with an audio compartment that is always up to sound editing and good music that can help you with the discreet action without ever being overwhelming or repetitive.
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