Who knew I'd have reason to write about sports this week?! Not exactly my forte, but I do dabble from time to time! When it comes to golf, I'm more than willing to offer up my two cents! As always, thanks for reading.
There is an overabundance of golf games available on the Switch. By my count, there are 14 titles on the Switch that have something to do with golf. There are a lot of mini-golf titles, as well as games that take the mechanics of golf and turn them into puzzle-style experiences. If you're looking for golf games that are 100% golf through and through, you have four titles at best. There's Arcade Archives: Golf, ACA NeoGeo Top Player's Golf, ACA NeoGeo Big Tournament Golf, and The Golf.
I've played both Arcade Archives: Golf and ACA NeoGeo Big Tournament Golf, and I really enjoy both of them. They're obviously classic releases, so they could only do so much in replicating a realistic golf experience. I'd say they're certainly more in the arcade class for golf games, and I suspect it's the same for ACA NeoGeo Top Player's Golf. As for The Golf, it seems like a budget approach to the Everbody's Golf (or Hot Shots as it used to be known) series on Playstation platforms. Doesn't look bad by any means, but not exactly something you could consider a simulation.
If you wanted simulation golf games, you had to turn to EA. They started off with PGA Tour Golf all the way back in 1990, and for a long time there, they cranked out yearly installments with Tiger Woods as the cover athlete. That takes us all the way up to 2015, when EA released Rory McIlroy PGA Tour...and then they stopped. Ever since then, EA ventured away from golf games, leaving the market wide-open for a big-name simulation competitor.
A few options did crop up in the time between 2015 and 2020, with the best ones coming from HB Studios. That company created the "The Golf Club" series of titles, which saw official partnerships with the PGA. HB Studios certainly knows their way around golf games and have created some highly praised titles that aim to be simulation-style experiences. 2K actually teamed up with HB Studios on The Golf Club 2019, and it's clear they were impressed with what the team could do. That's why they're partnering up again for PGA Tour 2K21.
The last time we had a realistic golf game on a Nintendo console was back in the Wii era. For a solid number of years, EA was putting out yearly installments of Tiger Woods games on Wii. There was even a time when the Tiger Woods games sold best on the Wii, as compared to the Xbox 360 and PS3. While the Wii outings may not have looked as good as the Sony and Microsoft counterparts, they certainly provided a gameplay experience you couldn't get on those other platforms. The Tiger Woods series on Wii let players use the Wii Remote to go through the realistic motions of swinging a golf club.
Now some people hate motion controls and others love them, but there's no denying that it makes sense to include a motion control option in a golf game. Nintendo did it right from the get-go with Wii Sports Golf, and EA obviously wanted to capitalize on that success by providing an experience that was more realistic both in terms of traditional golf, and control schemes as well. EA even included support for the Wii Balance Board to bring the immersion to a whole new level. There were plenty of games on Wii that used the Wii Remote for nothing more than waggle, but the Tiger Woods series certainly wasn't one of them.
I've been playing golf games ever since the NES, and my appreciation for them has stayed the same. Arcade-style, realistic, or somewhere in the middle, I love them all. There's just something so relaxing about playing golf games virtually. The fact that you can take it easy mentally while playing a golf game makes things so soothing. Planning out your shot, checking the wind, picking your club, lining up your aim, and so on. You're at your own pace, and there's something really methodical about it all. Taking the time to line things up perfectly and seeing a shot play out just as you wanted it such a satisfying feeling.
While I love golf games that use traditional controls, I was head over heels for the Tiger Woods series on Wii. It was, and remains to this day, the only yearly sports installment that I was actually excited about. I don't follow traditional sports, and that goes for golf as well, but I honestly love playing golf games. Having the Wii Remote as a way to more realistically interact with the game of golf seemed to good to be true. Sure, the motion controls weren't perfect, but you could work around the hiccups and have a really satisfying experience. I will never, ever forget my time with those Wii titles.
Ever since then, I've felt a void with golf games, especially on Nintendo platforms. I'm always down for retro golf and arcade-style experiences, but I still wanted something that would inch more towards the realistic side. With EA bowing out of the golf game long ago and The Golf Club series not supporting Nintendo's platforms, I was really left stuck in a rut. All I could do was sit back and wait patiently, hoping that some day a similar experience would come along. Thankfully that day has arrived, and on a Nintendo platform that seems absolutely perfect for it.
Details on the Switch version of PGA Tour 2K21 are pretty much non-existent right now. We got the first press release that confirms the game is coming over, and it also states that the Switch version is going to be digital-only at first. Other than that, it's a standard press release for all versions of the game. This actually makes sense, as 2K has done a good job of making sure their sports outings on Switch measure up features-wise with the PS4/XB1 games. There's no doubt that PGA Tour 2K21 is going to be exactly the same.
With that said, I really hope 2K and HB Studios put a little extra effort into PGA Tour 2K21 on Switch. I would imagine that everyone is thinking that along with traditional controls, the game will allow you to use a Joy-Con like a golf club. The Wii Remote did an excellent job as a golf club stand-in with the Tiger Woods series, and the Joy-Con is a much more sophisticated device when it comes to motion controls. There's no reason why PGA Tour 2K21 couldn't utilize the Joy-Con to offer up an even more realistic control experience compared to the other platforms. It seems like a no-brainer to me, and it also seems like a feature a lot of players would want. That said, we've heard nothing about it, which makes me just a tad nervous.
If PGA Tour 2K21 releases and somehow doesn't have motion controls, I'm going to consider it an absolutely huge missed opportunity. I have absolutely no issue with traditional controls, but I would very much prefer to have the motion control experience. As I said, for all the companies that crapped out lackluster waggle experiences on the Wii, the Tiger Woods series showed how motion controls could truly enhance some games. I have no doubt that PGA Tour 2K21 would be a better game with motion controls than without. Obviously motion controls won't matter for portable players, but to ignore the docked players because of the portable player base would be a travesty.
Outside of the worry about motion controls, it will still be extremely nice to have a simulation golf game on the Switch. While the Switch has its sports games, the library isn't as big as it is on other platforms. Things are getting better as we move forward, as you can find simulation basketball, soccer, tennis, baseball, and a few others in the mix. Still, having another major outing with PGA Tour 2K21 will go a very long way on the platform. Its something Nintendo fans haven't had in an extremely long time, and will certainly make the platform that much more appealing to newcomers.
What we do know for sure is that PGA Tour 2K21 is in capable hands. HB Studios has proven themselves extremely knowledgeable when it comes to golf, and they also have shown that they have the skills to make a great golf game. They've done it multiple times in the past, and they'll no doubt do it again here. That said, this is the highest profile golf game under their belt yet. This could be the debut of a yearly series for 2K, and the naming certainly indicates that. It looks like 2K is betting big on golf becoming a yearly heavy-hitter for them, so this debut outing needs to really drive it home.
Will the Switch version have motion controls? Is HB Studios handling the Switch versions themselves? Will all the bells and whistles be on Switch? Are we going to run into another debacle similar to WWE 2K18? There's still plenty of questions to ask and things to consider, but I remain cautiously optimistic. I honestly believe that PGA Tour 2K21 could end up being a killer app for the system, so long as it's taken seriously. Tiger Woods more than left its mark on the Wii, and Wii owners were happy to support that series in droves. Could the same happen with PGA Tour 2K21 and the Switch? We'll find out come August 21st, 2020.