Sports Story Review – Stuck in the Bunker

Sports Story Review

In 2017, Sidebar Games hit an ace with Golf Story. The delightful combination of sports and RPG blended perfectly to deliver a charming and memorable experience. Still considered as one of the best titles on the Nintendo Switch, fans have been eagerly awaiting its sequel since its reveal in 2019. After a December release date was promised, fans began to lose hope as the month’s end was in sight. However, in a surprise stealth release, Sports Story landed on the eShop just before Christmas. Does it manage to hit the highs of its predecessor or does it shank its shot into the rough?

Sports Story looks to expand on every aspect of the original. In terms of the narrative, you will encounter gangsters and pirates in a plot that takes you far and wide. While the escapade is more diverse, it lacks the whimsy and charm that permeates the protagonist’s prior outing. The game steps away from the cozy environments and delves through mines and many other areas to give a sense of adventure. Although the premise has more layers, it loses part of its identity due to the sporting theme being less prominent. 

A Question of Sport

Characters are positioned throughout to give small quests to aid you in your mission. Even though they have character and are distinct, conversations lack the humor and frivolity which made their previous release so endearing. The missions themselves vary in their enjoyment. Some maintain the sports aspect while others center around searching for items. An issue that tends to arise regularly is the clarity of objectives. For example, in one mission you are asked to ‘kick a goal’, however, the most obvious area that replicates a football net is not the correct location. Due to this, I had to run around aimlessly within the time limit to find the right place. This simple task took a long time to complete due to the poor mission design. Unfortunately, there are several instances of this throughout.

The variety of sports within the game is impressive. You can take part in a range of activities such as Tennis, BMX, Volleyball and much more. These fluctuate in the quality of their implementation. Some are an absolute joy to engage with, whereas others are extremely frustrating. During your adventure, you will dip into these different pastimes which makes your trip diverse. At times, you will cycle along and then take part in cricket-themed objectives to complete your quest. This makes your trip unpredictable as you never know what skill you will use next. Alas, you don’t really get enough time to get to grips with an activity before you move on.

Performance Enhancements

Each step and task is hindered by performance issues. As you trek around the environment, the frame-rate drops. This is particularly noticeable in busy areas. These sections tend to stumble along whereas screens that are quieter run smoothly. This creates a jarring experience when venturing from one place to the other and continues throughout. Due to this, it becomes a chore to traverse the land. 

As the sports contain an element of timing, stutters can impede the precision of your input. This means that you can fail sequences through no fault of your own, which builds frustration. In addition to this, in its current state, there are a number of bugs present. Some puzzles don’t reset and require you to leave the area to have another go. Other times they reset in front of your eyes, with items hovering over bottomless gulfs. There are also a variety of other bugs that are difficult to overlook. Due to this, you have to wade through lots of issues to get to the enjoyable parts of the game.

Sports Story pales in comparison to its predecessor. The plot fails to capture the whimsy which engulfs the original. While I understand Sidebar Games’ decision to go large with its narrative, in doing so, it removes the simplicity which makes Golf Story so unforgettable. Although it expands its gameplay with a number of new sporting activities, the success of these varies. Combining this with the volume of performance issues and bugs means this swing is a whiff rather than a hit.

***A Nintendo Switch code was provided by the publisher***

The Good

  • Nice Visuals
  • Varied Gameplay
  • Simple Controls

The Bad

  • Lots of Bugs
  • Frame Rate Drops
  • Some Sports Aren’t Fun