Golf Story

Side­bar Games

Hyper - - FEATURE -

Part of the ini­tial al­lure of Golf Story – a golf­ing RPG rem­i­nis­cent of the le­git­i­mately ex­cel­lent Game Boy Color Mario Golf game – was its un­ex­pected Aus­tralian­ness. Here was a game where char­ac­ters spouted ocker slang across a map that, you even­tu­ally came to dis­cover, was shaped like Aus­tralia. There’s even a scene early on where you’re given the op­tion to heat up a meat pie in the mi­crowave, like ev­ery (non-veg­e­tar­ian) Aus­tralian kid did the first time they were made to pre­pare their own lunch.

This be­came a talk­ing point among jour­nal­ists and me­dia. “Who are these folks”, we asked one an­other, “and where did they come from?” There’s an aura of mys­tery to Side­bar Games – the de­vel­oper’s names are not even listed in the game’s cred­its – but (in my ex­pe­ri­ence) the team is good at re­spond­ing to emails. Ac­cord­ing to An­drew, the guy on the other end of their email ad­dress, they “keep to our­selves for the most part”, and “don’t know much about the Brisbane de­vel­op­ment scene” (so we know where they’re based, at least).

Golf Story has been a global suc­cess. Talk­ing to the Wall Street Jour­nal in April, new Nintendo pres­i­dent Shuntaro Fu­rukawa ca­su­ally men­tioned Golf Story as a re­cent favourite of his, which is ex­tremely good press for the team. “We weren’t ex­pect­ing a golf game to be su­per pop­u­lar, but it ended up do­ing quite well”, An­drew ad­mits. “We al­ways made sure to em­pha­sise the story and ad­ven­ture as­pects of the game the most, and I think they looked ap­peal­ing enough for peo­ple to sub­ject them­selves to golf to see what it was all about.” All the Aus­tralianisms in the game’s di­a­log don’t seem to have hurt them abroad. “I wasn’t sure how much I could get away with and tried to limit us­ing phrases peo­ple wouldn’t un­der­stand. I thought there were just a few things here and there, but the game was ac­cused of be­ing Aus­tralian im­me­di­ately. It ac­tu­ally went over well, and I’ve seen a lot of peo­ple us­ing some of the Aus­tralian catch­phrases - al­beit in­cor­rectly most of the time.”

The game was orig­i­nally in de­vel­op­ment for the Wii U, but was trans­ferred to the Switch soon af­ter the con­sole was re­vealed and a dev kit was ac­quired. “We went with the clas­sic strat­egy of send­ing un­so­licited tweets to Nintendo sta’ on Twit­ter”, An­drew says. “This was en­cour­aged by Nintendo at the time. We said some­thing along the lines of “Hey, I’ve got a sick idea for a game. You in­ter­ested?” Their re­sponse was ‘Please tell us more,’ so we ex­plained some gen­eral fea­tures (and how we wanted to use HD rum­ble), which se­cured the dev kit.” This anec­dote is very much in keep­ing with the ir­rev­er­ent spirit of the game it­self.

Golf Story, I’m told, will stay ex­clu­sive to Switch for now, so that the team can fo­cus on mak­ing their next game rather than fo­cus­ing all their en­ergy into a port. True to form, An­drew is cryptic about what’s com­ing next: “It’s go­ing to be a bit di’er­ent so we’ll see what hap­pens.”

You can’t see it in these im­ages, but this might just be the most ‘Aussie’ game you play on the Switch.

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