Everyone is the hero of their own story, but no one believes in your Golf Story protagonist. The plucky hero dreams of golf glory, and despite conquering different courses, no one is convinced of his talent. It’s great. Far too often NPCs swoon in awe of a game protagonist, and it’s refreshing (and funny) to see so many characters brushing aside your golfer.
Indie games often attempt to impress gamers with humor, and that humor often comes across as forced. Golf Story doesn’t fall into that trap. There are disc golf weirdos, the uninspiring coach makes awkward sexual advances toward his crush, and I love the rival Lara. She’s April Ludgate with the aggression meter cranked up, constantly throwing shade. The plot of Golf Story is nothing special, but the game’s bright environments, fun tone, and colorful characters make it a lovely little world to visit. Oh yeah, and the golf is real fun too. The game mechanics should be familiar to anyone who has every played Mario Golf or Hotshotz Golf. Adjustable attributes like power and spin combined with special golf clubs allow the player to make tactical choices. The gameplay is just the right amount of goofy. Golf balls can be carried off by moles, and they can bounce high off of ice, but piranha plants don’t block your shots.
If there’s one feature missing from Golf Story, it’s more versus challenges. Playing against a score card isn’t nearly as fun as beating individual players (especially if they’re talking shit). In one competition you’re forced to pair with an elderly man for a two vs. two game, and he sucks. But compensating for his weak shots makes the victory all the sweeter. One other critique – most golfers you play against commit regular errors, making the game easier than I’d like.
Side mission lists in a game can be annoying or overwhelming, but I would have liked one in Golf Story. I didn’t want to miss any of the fun. Golf Story is part golf simulator, part RPG, and an all-around enjoyable adventure. I’m highly anticipating the Sports Story sequel. I hope Lara shows up for it.
In 2018 I wrote a review for Breath of the Wild that included this statement: “I don’t care about the Nintendo Switch’s portability (I prefer using a TV screen), and I probably won’t buy more than a handful of games for the system.” Times have changed. In the past few months I’ve played through half a dozen Switch games (Golf Story, Inside, Super Mario Odyssey, and so on), and I’ve completed most of those with the Switch in portable mode. The Switch is a kick ass console.
I still enjoy playing games on a big screen, but the convenience of picking up the console and playing in different rooms can not be understated. In portable mode it’s so easy to jump into a game like Bad North and defend a couple islands before putting the console to sleep with the push of a button. I didn’t think the joy-cons would feel very comfortable, but I have no problem with them; the Switch batteries always drain before my hands complain. So yeah, the console’s battery is not great, only lasting two to three hours. That’s why I said it’s great to take it to different rooms in a house, because the dock is nearby for a quick charge. A console like the 3DS is better suited for longer travels.
Most games nowadays are available across multiple platforms, so the console wars are much less of an issue than they were 20 years ago. Cutting edge graphics are the least of my gaming concerns; Sony and Microsoft can keep that war raging. The Switch graphics look good to me, and when it comes to exclusive titles, Nintendo has the one-two punch of Mario and Zelda. That’s a tough combo to beat. I’m also a big fan of the Switch pro controller – it’s almost as good as an Xbox controller and better than a Playstation controller. I’ll keep supporting Sony so long as they keep making excellent Spider-Man games, but my heart is with Mario and his pals.
The new OLED Switch screen looks fantastic, but I’m in no hurry to upgrade. My original gray and black model is a solid piece of hardware, which makes sense considering Nintendo’s history of building long lasting, durable products. The Lite model seems like a misstep, though. The Switch is a beautiful marriage between Nintendo’s home consoles and portable consoles, so why limit a gamer to just half the experience? After I’m done with this review I’m going to wake up my Switch so I can continue battling pixelated vikings. And after that the e-shop has much more to offer. Considering the quantity and quality of games available (including historic classics with the online membership), the Nintendo Switch may be the best console ever made.
I haven’t played a new Zelda game in years, but the overwhelming positive response to Breath of the Wild was too much for me to resist. I don’t care about the Nintendo Switch’s portability (I prefer using a TV screen), and I probably won’t buy more than a handful of games for the system, but boy does it feel good to be Link again.
The big draw of Breath of the Wild is the open world full of mountain peaks to climb and enemies to slay. But what really sells the world is its sense of history. There are desolate ruins that speak to the violent past of the beautiful land, and forgotten leviathan skeletons are wondrously alluring. There are plenty of shrines to uncover and conquer, and some of them – especially those involving riddles – provide a welcome challenge. Link’s essential abilities are available early in the game, so the player’s only limitations are lack of skill and imagination. I’m not necessarily skilled or imaginative, and I experienced satisfaction in returning to confront monsters that had once made me flee in fear.
Although most of the story is still delivered through text and Link remains woefully silent, Breath of the Wild also uses voice actors to flesh out the story and create bonds between Link and his allies. Zelda is more of a rounded character in this game; she’s idealistic, bratty, courageous, and hampered with self-doubt. Maybe someday Link will follow suit and be more than a mute hero.
At the time of this writing I haven’t yet completed Breath of the Wild, but I’m happy to say it feels like returning to Ocarina of Time on a grander scale. I do have minor quibbles with character pop-in and the short handful of dungeons. Overall though, Breath of the Wild is an incredible adventure, and it’s easy to see why Zelda fans fell in love with it.