The idea of mixing elements from traditional role playing games with sports games is nothing new; Camelot’s well loved Mario Tennis and Mario Golf handheld titles being great examples of the concept. So I was looking forward to looking at RPGolf which looked to do a similar thing wrapped in a 16-bit pixel art style.
RPGolf sees you taking control of a female golfer destined to rid a nine hole golf course and its surroundings of evil monsters that apparently showed up out of the blue, whilst hopefully improving her golf handicap. That’s about all the explanation the game gives you as it basically just gives you a brief control tutorial and throws you into the world.
As you’d probably expect, the game is split into two halves: Simple golfing along with simple exploration and combat. Unfortunately both areas suffer due to RPGolf’s origins as a mobile title and are a bit too simplistic. The golf itself kicks in when you stand near your ball. An overlay appears showing the general direction of the hole. Confirming then allows you to adjust spin with the shot itself being a two-step affair; pressing to start your swing and again to set power.
The golf is broken up between shots by having to navigate around the world to reach your ball, entering dark caves and crossing bridges as you get lost in the poorly laid out and uninteresting world. Occasionally taking on demons with your trusty clubs and magic in combat that feels extremely basic. It essentially tries to be like classic Zelda combat as you swing your club like a mad woman whilst occasionally throwing a fireball at enemies that just want to ram you.
Combat feels unresponsive and inaccurate, leaving you flailing wildly then backing off when a hit connects (Which probably accurately describes combat with a golf club but it’s not very fun.) Items you discover like gloves imbue you with the ability to, for example, throw fire at the enemy. These not only have combat benefits but are also used in the world to remove obstacles.
NPCs populate the world but often don’t have anything significant to say, often just having badly spelt, meme-related humour that you’ll either find amusing or infuriating. Skyrim “Arrow to the Knee” references tell you all you need to know.
As mentioned earlier the course and world design is poor: getting around is for the most part an exercise in frustration as pathways often just stop or don’t exist. There isn’t much in the way of landmarks or terrain to aid in navigation either. There is a map that has two modes: an overview which shows where you are on a macro level and another that lets you scroll around the world. The problem is the map doesn’t show area transitions or boundaries so really doesn’t help you with getting around at all.
Visually the game is hit and miss. The main character’s sprite work has a lot of charm but most of the other characters and enemies look bland and boring. This carries through to the overall look too. Trees and some other objects look nice but a lot of ground tiles don’t seem to match the same style leading to a really inconsistent and cheap looking aesthetic.
RPGolf as a concept — a blend of action RPG within a sports game framework — has promise, but it unfortunately doesn’t come together in a satisfying way. Too much of it feels poorly implemented or rushed, from the poor grammar and misspelt dialogue to the featureless and hard to navigate map design.
Sadly this is nowhere near the quality and cleverness of the Camelot games I was hoping for and it’s extremely hard to recommend. If the concept sounds like something you’d want to try you’d be much better served looking at Mario Golf on the Game Boy Color via the Virtual Console, or if you have a Switch, then Golf Story is definitely something to consider instead.
RPGolf (Reviewed on Windows)
The game is unenjoyable, but it works.
A quirky, fun premise let down by poor design and implementation. Bright but inconsistent visuals and reliance on meme-style humour can’t disguise the lack of fun within this budget RPG/Golf hybrid.