One of my absolute favourite games from 2017 was Golf Story for the Nintendo Switch. The other day, I made a video of myself playing the first hour of the game. For your convenience, I have digested the video down to 40 minutes.
If I had to summarise what exactly it is I find so appealing about Golf Story, it’s that it combines the Japanese role-playing game scenarios of dungeon, field, town, and battle into one seamless experience. Each golf course in Golf Story is a town with its own quirky population and set of game challenges. It’s full of Animal Crossing-like neighbors, though instead of ferrying letters, your chores consist of participating in simple yet robust golf. The deliciousness of the golf action in this game cannot be overstated. I’ve long admired the weird Japanese 1990s sports RPGs and their 2000s revivals, such as Level 5's Inazuma Eleven for the Nintendo DS. Golf Story takes the depth of Kirby’s Dream Course and pares it down into the simplicity of Angry Birds. It’s an RPG where the battle system is golf, and where the exploration is also golf.
As I said in this video I did on NBA 2K18, I play video games for two reasons: to feel good about myself, and to think about the 1990s. Well, Golf Story is a story about a young man defying his doubters by striving and struggling to become a professional golfer, which feels pretty good, and it looks like a Super-Super Nintendo game, which reminds me of the 1990s. Being set in a modern-ish time period is a pixel-arty video game’s easiest shortcut to reminding me of Earthbound, sure, though reminding me of Earthbound always reminds me of Seinfeld. One of the worst conversations game-likers insisted on having on the subject of video games, about 10 years ago, concerned the hypothetical “Citizen Kane of Games.” Back then I said, as I say now, that we should instead be talking about “The Seinfeld of Games.” Golf Story is maybe the closest I’ve felt yet to a Seinfeld of video games. I feel like I’m just hanging out in this world, and that also I might hit a Titleist into a whale’s blowhole at some point. I talk more about what I mean by that in this video, though if you don’t want to watch the video, feel free to comment what you think the Seinfeld of video games would be.