Whilst western games tend to be of a more shall we say sane nature basing themselves upon classic good-versus-evil plots and familiar gameplay approaches many Japanese developers and indeed consumers have a penchant for the bizarre and twisted. The likes of Hamster Paradise and Nakayoshi Pet Advance are popular in their home territory but such games are rarely awarded a western release. Bandai’s Ribbit King however is an exception.
An ‘original’ sports game of sorts players of Ribbit King will soon find themselves immersed in what they believe to be a simple game of golf. But in true Japanese style the golf clubs have been replaced by mallets and the golf balls by frogs. Call it Frolf if you will.
The game actually has a story that sees intrepid space explorer Scooter attempting to win Frolf tournaments in order to replenish his home planet with a generous supply of Ribbinite. Not exactly what we’d call intriguing but when you get to the guts of the game what you’re playing is golf.
And a great golf game it is. Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour and its Nintendo 64 predecessor proved that photo-realistic visuals and super-detailed simulations aren’t necessary to make a great golf game. And fundamentally the same is true of Ribbit King. The play mechanic is expectedly simple there’s a diverse range of imaginative courses a number of camera angles and the obligatory multi-player mode.
There’s nothing jaw-droppingly special about Ribbit King with regards to golf but the imagination and skill of the staff at Bandai has resulted in a fun light-hearted golfing adventure that stands out in a crowd of generic golfing sims.——
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