Have you heard about Nintendo’s latest, hottest exclusive? The only game capable of breaking your grip - strengthened after completing every shrine - on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or Mario Kart 8? No? Well, in that case, allow me to tell you about Nintendo’s hottest exclusive yet, Golf Story.
Ok, not really. Unless you’re one of the few enjoyable, if not questionable, journalists I follow and/or me, I wouldn’t dare suggest that this actually Nintendo’s hottest exclusive. However, I think those journalists same reactions to Golf Story are genuine, and I share their sentiments. Here’s why.
Two things from the trailer stand out. One, Golf Story has beautiful pixel art that is reminiscent of Mother 3, and the gameplay is clearly more than just, well, golf. The pixel art is so beautiful that it warrants waking up early just to watch the sunrise. But don’t just use the morning for idling; somebody’s got to get up early to mow the grass and tend to the course, of course. Sometimes, no matter what you do, the environment may not be suitable for a nice day of golf, and the birds might watch unmoved by your Sisyphean efforts. However, if you can find a platform in the lake surrounding the hole, you just might be able to hit a birdie after all. Oh, and the caddie specifically mentions “espionage” may be in order. Has golf always been this fun? No, but it turns out it works well as an RPG or a simulator.
If you’re old enough to remember playing a Game Boy Color, then it’s possible you played either Mario Golf or Mario Tennis. I did, and what I remember most about these games is - and this was before I had an internet connection - how I was expecting to play anything other than an RPG. It blew my mind that not only did I have an athletic version of Hogwarts to explore from a top-down, two-dimensional perspective; I suddenly had rivals and goals to achieve beyond linking my Game Boy with another’s to compete against friends. But what I really appreciated is how character’s from the Mushroom Kingdom seemed like players whose skills I should aspire to. Mario was no longer a plumber, he was a mentor.
Golf Story may look like it borrows more from Stardew Valley than, say, Pokemon, but I have a good feeling that it will capture what made Mario Golf great and then some. I pointed out earlier that the game reminds me of Mother 3, and I think that’s one of the pillars of this game’s success. Golf, like any sport or skill, requires hours of tedious practice to master. Even getting good at video games feels like a grind, and I’m not just talking about RPGs or simulators. However, the world of Golf Story is clearly a zany one, and if the characters and artwork are as memorable as I hope they turn out to be, then I could see myself getting lost playing something as mundane as Golf.
Anyway, I think I’ll stop hyping up the game now lest I accidentally contribute to the disappointment later on. But I can see why some of my fellow gamers are excited for this game, and I can only hope it rekindles my nostalgia for Mario Golf. It doesn’t necessarily have to be Nintendo’s next big thing.