Review by Nigel Wood
As I have mentioned before in my review of Billy Frontier, a new gamer was born with the advent of the Wii and DS, the ‘casual gamer’. These gamers like quick and easy gaming. One of the games responsible for this shift in the wind was ‘Wii Sports’ by Nintendo. It featured key sports games such as Tennis, Golf, Boxing and Baseball, but it was the Bowling game that captured these casual gamers minds. This was down to the great controls it offered. Using the Wii remote, players could replicate the real bowling motions and so didn’t require any prior knowledge of game pad controls… this allowed anyone to pick it up and play it right out of the box.
The iPhone has the potential to have this effect on gamers, especially with the fact that it is primarily a device for telecommunication and web access. So it is already in the hands of a broad range of users.
On booting up the game you are presented with a menu of four options: Free play mode, which allows you to hit the bowling alley and play 10 rounds on your own; Versus mode allows you to play against a computer or a human for 2 player action; Hi Scores which displays a scrolling list of the best scores so far; and finally the options menu where you can adjust sound volume and also game difficulty.
For both free play and versus modes you can select from six characters (three guys and three ladies), and then it’s straight into play. From here you select your ball, then position your player at the end of the alley. Once this has been set the game puts you in shoot mode where you must now flick in the direction you want your character to bowl. It’s a simple control mechanic that works well. Flick hard for fast bowls and lightly for slow bowling. If you flick to an angle you can curve the ball. I preferred to leave my player in the middle and flick at angles to reach different pins, as I found it more of a challenge. The difficulty you have set in the options menu, affects the way the game interprets your flick angle, on full difficulty a slight flick to the left will can cause your ball to slam into the gutter. I found that setting the difficulty somewhere in the middle gave the best balance of gameplay. I havn’t noticed if the difficulty level affects the computer AI or not, but I don’t think it does.
Graphics in the game are top notch, and I’ll even say that they are better than Wii Sports bowling. Characters are nicely presented in a cartoon cell shaded style, though feature minimal animation. It would have been nice if each character showed more personality in their movements. The bowling alley itself looks great, with a clean and shiny psuedo realistic look to it, and all running in full 3D. The textures are of a high quality, and feature reflective effects on the wooden floor and in the balls themselves. One thing I’m a little puzzled to though, is why the game isn’t presented in portrait mode. For a game like this that requires flicking upwards, surely it makes sense for the user to hold the iphone in it’s usual position which is easier to hold and would allow a better view of the alley and pins.
Sound is good too. As with Wii sports bowling, you can hear chatter and play of others bowling in the background, and the sounds of the pins clattering is satisfying. When you get a strike you get a little guitar riff accompanied by the shout of ‘strike’. Coupled with the graphics ‘flick bowling’ presents you with a familiar and pleasing atmosphere in which to shoot some bowls.
A negative aspect to the game is the physics, or lack off. The effect of the ball on the pins is based on the angle at which the ball hits them, so don’t expect to pull off any split pin tricks, as the pins don’t seem to affect each other at all. Another is that the game is not very deep, so for you hardcore gamers out there don’t expect a campaign mode where you can win trophy’s and such. However, having said that, it’s simplicity makes it a fun pick up and play game which you can boot up for some quick bowling action on your way to work
Presentation & Graphics: 9
Looks better than Wii Sports bowling.
The atmospheric sounds are great, but the music is a little cheesy… thankfully it is only present in the main menu and you can turn it off
The game isn’t very deep, but if you just want to have a fun 10 round game of bowling alone, with a friend or against the CPU, then you can’t ask for more.
Game life: 7
There is good replay value with the multi-player and trying to beat your own high scores. I can see this game staying on my home screen for a while, with it’s pick up and play appeal.
Game rating: 7
Overall, ‘Flick bowling’ is fun game of bowling, especially for you growing number of casual gamers out there, featuring great presentation and a responsive control scheme. For only $4.99 (£2.99) its easy to forgive it’s shortcomings.