Golf Story isn’t just a golf game. That is the main focus, sure. But there’s more to this sports-themed RPG. There are multiple extracurricular activities that your avatar will engage in as he goes around various courses, attempting to eventually professionally compete. People can throw balls around the course, play rounds of mini golf, enjoy disc golf, and basically participate in geocashing after getting a Digging Wedge.
Being able to throw balls around is a surprisingly handy skill in the early portions of the game. While many puzzles do seem to be best solved with a more accurate hit by teeing up anywhere, having the option to quickly toss a ball comes in quite handy. Especially once you’ve been to Lurker Valley and gotten the bracelet and first upgrade that increases your range and strength. There’s something satisfying about using that to quickly flip a switch or even pester a NPC.
The mini golf course is also one of Golf Story’s earliest delights. As you wander around Wellworn Grove, you will see four switches in hard to reach places. After flipping all of them and putting a ball into a locked shack in the back right portion of the course, you unlock a 10-hole mini golf course that you are tasked with beating in 21 shots or less. (You can buy the Whirly Putter for $314 if you do.) The buttons to unlock it aren’t too well hidden. You can find immediately to the left of the entrance, one behind the mini golf hut, another in the upper left corner surrounded by trees, and a final one near the kid you need to hit with a ball to save him from a crocodile. This experience is quite different from the standard golf you play in the game, but also helps greatly when it comes to improving your putting before you start having to factor in things like the wind and slope.
Disc golf is another activity and unexpected delight. This is a mini game that first appears in Wellworn Grove to teach you how to throw frisbees (the same as you do a lone golf ball) and guide them to their goal (using the analog stick after a throw to guide its path). After completing a Lurker Valley comp and talking to the disc golf fans, they’ll set up their own course outside of Cheekybeak Peak. They’ll then have three challenges that involve gauging when a disc will fall to make sure it lands within a targeted spot, successfully make it through a rather long journey, and do a quick spiral through trees before heading into the basket. The controls do take some getting accustomed to, since there is no tutorial and you usually have to trade longevity for control or vice versa. Still, it ends up being a fun inclusion for when you want to try something a little different.
The geocaching is another fun quest. After acquiring the Digging Wedge at Lurker Valley and learning how to dig things up to find the course’s idol, you will find a cacher at the soda bar in Wellworn Grove. He’ll give you a series of hints to find a coin he has hidden at that course. This little scavenger hunt helps encourage you to investigate out of the way parts and people in each area. For example, heading to the Cheekybeak Peak disc golf course after accepting the Wellworn Grove cacher’s challenge will help you find the second coin.
Then, there’s Galf. Galf is essentially a take on the original Golf released on the NES in 1984. It is a more retro and simple experience found in a house in the bottom right corner of the map. This is an eight hole game that even unlocks for Quick Play. There are even Galf Seasons and Galf Nights expansions available. It can feel a little rough, but is a quaint Easter egg for people who have stuck with Nintendo golf games all of these years. Especially since you get a Galf Manual for visiting and playing it. This looks exactly like the old NES manuals, complete with a “Notes” section at the back.
Golf Story is a wholly pleasant thing. This golf RPG is a one of the Nintendo Switch’s most pleasant surprises. But one of the things that helps make it so special is the extra features. While there are some fun golf courses and challenges here, the ones that have us completing objectives and puzzles in slightly different ways are just as engaging. Whether it’s finally figuring out how to play disc golf well or taking a moment with Galf, it’s a win.
Golf Story is available for the Nintendo Switch.