When Golf Story was released back in 2017 – not too long after the Nintendo Switch released itself – I don’t think anybody quite expected how many people would love it. The combination of sports and RPG was a mix not readily known and explored, and it proved to be one of the best indie titles the Switch has to offer.
Now, more than five years later, a sequel has been released. But is Sports Story the sequel that was needed? Or should Golf Story have stayed a one-hit wonder? Let’s find out.
Continuing on from where the previous one left off – after a short introduction from PureStrike in the form of a Press Conference – Sports Story sees our young protagonist and Uncle Coach (and friends) off on another sporting adventure as the Island now has a plethora of new sports for you to focus your attention on.
Very quickly, you will realise that no tutorial is offered; instead, players will be left to their own devices to figure out what they must do and where to go next, with the exception of the first few missions in the form of fetch quests for Coach, as a little introduction.
Sports Story possesses the same fun and silly plot that Golf Story was known for. It doesn’t make much sense, but are any of us really playing them for the story? You will undoubtedly come across some interesting people on your adventures, and it’s often these little interactions that bring the most smiles.
Those fetch quests that we mentioned previously? You can expect the majority of your time to consist of doing precisely that, and it often becomes very tedious very quickly. It seems that to gain anything from any character, you need to fulfill a fetch quest to get anywhere, which often resulted in doing a lot of running back and forth to particular places to get silly items with no substance in the gameplay itself. I have no problem with fetch quests; sometimes, they can be quite welcomed as they help break up a particular gaming loop, but when every mission consists of this, it becomes a little frustrating.
Not only this, but Sports Story suffers from a massive lack of direction. You’re often given a somewhat unclear objective with no context of where you need to go to complete it. In some cases, the mission you’re set to do can’t even be completed without finishing another objective first which, again, the game doesn’t tell you, so this can be highly aggravating. In this instance, a map would be beneficial to deter the time lost mindlessly figuring out where to go, but sadly that isn’t something the game offers.
Given its name, Sports Story offers more than just golf to its players. Although, golf does still seems to be the game’s primary focus. Players can partake in numerous sports, including soccer, cricket, volleyball, fishing, and even BMX-ing, though none seem as fleshed out as the golfing element. Maybe this is purely due to the fact that so many new ideas have been implemented that there wasn’t enough time to perfect them all. Still, this doesn’t make it any less disappointing.
The sheer number of activities on offer is fantastic, even if some of them do appear to have taken the back burner. There is plenty to keep you busy in Sports Story, and of course, players will find some of the sporting elements more enjoyable than others. It might’ve been more practical if the developers had focused on a select few additional sports than a whole host of new ones, making sure those are just as enjoyable as the golf.
With the name Sports Story, you would think that the primary focus would be the new sports that have been implemented, but sadly, this is not the case. The majority of the new sports implemented are used within the main story only a handful of times, with them feeling like an afterthought. There are opportunities afterwards to play them, but that’s in your own time. You will gain money and experience from playing them, but it’s not necessarily needed.
As I stated earlier, golf still takes the limelight in the sequel, to the point that the game could have actually been named Golf Story 2. You will spend your hard-earned money on new golf clubs (among other things), you can use various balls to alter your swings, and the sport you tend to be involved in the most is golf. It makes sense, considering you’re playing the same character who adored golf in the original, but it still doesn’t make sense for the new aspects of the game to be so easily forgotten about.
Where Sports Story excels is within its art style, which uses the same 16-bit graphics from Golf Story, only with a lot more detail. Simply put, it looks absolutely gorgeous no matter where you are or what environment you are in. Whether exploring creepy, run-down caves or running through rainy marshes, it looks fantastic either way.
Sadly, Sports Story does suffer from a slew of technical issues. Framerate drops, crashes, softlocks and bugs will be what you can expect now; unfortunately, these can easily hinder your gameplay experience. Sometimes a little input lag will prevent you from getting that well-timed golf swing, or sometimes pressing a button will do nothing. Sidebar Games have released a patch, but it’s unlikely that this will have fixed all the known issues.
Overall, even though Sports Story is a fun game, it doesn’t feel as complete compared to its predecessor. The gorgeous art style and entertaining writing aren’t enough to overcome the frustrating technical issues, tedious quests, and clear focus on golf over all other sports added. It’s still a game that can (and will) be played and enjoyed, but it doesn’t live up to the hype it has received over the years we’ve known and been excited about it.
New sports gives a whole bunch of things to do
Fun and playful story and writing
New sports feel like an afterthought
Too many fetch quests
A lot of technical issues, at launch
Main focus is still golf
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A massive lover of all things nerdy, Chelly has been games writing for over 3 years now and hopes to gain more experience and knowledge doing so. Her favourite games are Monster Hunter, Borderlands and Pokemon.