Fans of golf RPGs? We’ve had a tough time of it lately. Recent Mario Golf entries have failed to deliver the depth of the Game Boy gems. The sequel to indie hit Golf Story, Sports Story? It’s on the way, we hear, but not as quickly as fans would want. So if you like this particular combination, you may be seeking out a stopgap.
So is RPGolf Legends what you’re wanting?
The answer is somewhat complicated. For sure, it’s a golf RPG. It even starts you out in your house with two books explaining what golf and RPGs are. But the balance between the two? It’s different from what you’re used to playing. For one, it’s not always an RPG with golf mechanics. A lot of your play time is a more traditional action-RPG, fighting and dodging foes with attacks that just happen to be using golf clubs.
A lot of your enjoyment of RPGolf Legends is going to be dependent on your tolerance for low-budget development. Legends is actually the second game in the franchise, so there’s more polish here than you’d expect in this repeat attempt! But that first release was a mobile game, and Legends is the developer’s effort to expand it to a console-quality title.
That budget feel really starts to take hits on your fun when it comes to the mechanics of each mode. Golf games are heavily reliant on their controls, as well as the nuances of the courses themselves. RPGolf Legends uses a quick, two-part meter, and it’s really quite forgiving. Rather than any sort of traditional golf setup, it takes the Golf Story approach and just aims from the same top-down view as the rest of the game. And the holes? They’re flat and without the rolling hills and challenge of the best golf titles. It works okay, but it doesn’t really grab you.
Similarly, the action-RPG part? It’s quite generic. You just stick and move, with a charge attack that you can change as the game progresses. It wants to feel more like a Secret of Mana setup, with carefully timed strikes instead of just spamming the attack button. You can largely avoid enemies when you really want, but fetch quests and resource crafting have you seeking out fights against specific foes. Again, it works! And it’s one of those things. If one of the two were really engaging, the other being generic would be a lot more forgivable.
The writing in RPGolf Legends is incredibly on-the-nose. Your companion, a magical golf club, does a lot of the talking for you. And it talks about how it’s a game and you have meters and inventory. Immersion ain’t the goal here. To be fair, it works? In that you always know what you need to do. RPGs can get confusing with systems and quests and such, but the combination of a compass pointing you to your next goal and the golf club just telling you stuff clears that right up. There isn’t a lot of challenge, as a result, but it is what it is.
Visually, developer ArticNet handled things well. Small-team RPGs can often feel cheap and disjointed visually, but the style here is cohesive. It’s reminiscent of Stardew Valley, bridging the gap between old-school pixel art and more modern approaches to text boxes and interfaces.
Ultimately, RPGolf Legends could be a suitable distraction for those who have been waiting too long for a game like Sports Story. It’s forgettably pleasant and largely inoffensive, a stopgap for those who need it. If ArticNet continues to work on the franchise, we’d really like to see a focus on mechanical depth in the next installment.
RPGolf Legends is developed by ArticNet and published by Kemco. It releases January 20, 2022 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One and PC.