Bowling isn’t a particularly exciting sport. It’s indoors in a dimly lit arena. It’s deadly silent most of the time. Perhaps the most energetic part about it as a spectator is something like this. But that’s pretty rare. With that being said, bowling can be entertaining when you’re actually playing. But is it possible for the guys at KID (Kindle Imagine Develop) to translate the experience of playing bowling into video game format successfully?
Strike or Spare?
There really isn’t a story here. It’s a bowling game where you can choose between four high school kids. Each one has different strengths and weaknesses. It’s up to you to play to your character’s strengths and downplay any weak points he/she may have all while utilizing some bowling strategy!
Controls and Gameplay
On the character selection screen, press the L or R button to select which player you would like to use, press left or right on the control pad to make your avatar left or right handed, and up or down to select weight of the ball. After your player attributes are determined, you can choose oil distance on the lane by pressing left or right on the control pad and finally select the difficulty, either normal or hard by pressing left or right on the pad.
Once you get on the lane, pressing left or right will position your character exactly where you want. Then you may wish to press L or R to adjust your aim pointer. The ball is going to head in the direction of your aim pointer. Next you will press A to display the spin meter. Pressing A again will activate it. This meter will determine how much spin your ball is going to have. Stopping it right in the middle will mean your ball will have little spin at all. Immediately after you choose your spin, your character will start making the approach and the power meter shows up. Pressing A will stop the meter and release the ball. If you don’t activate the power meter before your player reaches the foul line, he/she will release the ball automatically. I found the controls to be solid, functional and appropriate for a bowling game.
Besides determining what ball size to use, where to stand. where to aim, how much spin to use and how hard you should throw the ball, there are other factors at play. Super Bowling adds a little depth to the gameplay with elements such as character attributes. The four players in the game are not exactly the same. For example, Mars can exert the most power out of all the characters, but he has very little control over his spin; in contrast Robin has a good spin on her ball but not much power. So stopping the power meter all the way to the left with Mars will deliver a different result than when the same thing is done with Robin. Now you won’t be able to see the differences in attributes between the characters in terms of numbers or graph-wise; you know because the manual tells you so and you may be able to feel the difference while experimenting with them.
Then there’s oil distance. This allows the ball to run down the lane before it starts to spin. You have the option for very little oil, middle ( oil is placed on the first 30 feet of the lane), and long ( oil is placed most of the way on the lane). All of these things must be taken into consideration as far as strategy is concerned.
There are three gameplay options to choose from. Turkey Bowling is the main portion of the game. It’s the traditional 10 frame game of bowling.
Golf bowling is an interesting twist on the sport. The object is to get the lowest possible score after nine holes. The basic rules of golf are applied to bowling. Each hole will be represented by a pin setting that is assigned a par. The par for each hole is determined by how many rolls it should take a typical player to knock down all of the pins. If a player can knock down all the pins in the number of shots needed for par, he will receive a 0 for that hole. Getting all the pins downs in less rolls than par will result in a negative score. For example knocking down all the pins on the first roll of a Par-2 hole will result in a score of -1, one under par.(1)
If it takes more rolls than par to get all the pins down, the player will receive a positive score. For example, knocking all the pins down on the fourth roll of a Par-2 will result in a score of +2, or two under par. (1)
The third mode is a practice mode. You can setup the pins however you want and practice certain shots.
As a one player experience, the game is enjoyable, yet limited. There’s no league tournament play, no stat tracking, not much of anything except for a one-time bowling game. If you score below a 200, you’ll get a screen that says “Why don’t you play Practice or Golf mode?”. If you score 200 or above, you’ll get a still screen shot of your player getting sprayed with sake by two twin ladies. And from there you can play another game, or another mode. That’s it. The one player experience is rather lackluster and short-lived to be honest. And besides that, it’s too easy to hit strikes in this game, even on the hard setting. On my very first playthrough I was hitting what I thought was an inordinate amount of strikes for a rookie. I turned up the difficulty to hard and it was still pretty easy to hit strikes. This wouldn’t be happening to me in a real bowling alley …
I believe the real value in this game is playing with others. Up to four players can get in on the action. The Multitap isn’t functional in this game; 4 players are possible because 2 players share a controller. This is the perfect distraction when you have a small group of friends over or 3 other family members to bowl with. It’s a great substitute if you don’t feel like going to an actual bowling alley but have the itch to knock some pins over.
Graphics & Sound
The graphics are excellent for a 1992 Super NES game. The characters look wonderfully hand drawn, they’re big and express emotions. And they do have that anime look to them that I adore.
The soundtrack is very sparse. When you’re in the bowling alley, you will only hear one tune, and that tune will quickly grate on your nerves. Besides that, there’s a tune on the title screen, player selection screen, and after you complete a game. The jingles are easy on the ears, but you wish there was more variety. Sounds effects like when the ball rolls on the floor or when the ball hits a pin sound authentic.
A promising game is marred by lack of variety and features that prevent it from having any staying power. It’s only a so-so 1-player experience. However as a 4-player venture is when this game really unveils its charm. If you definitely know you’re going to play with a couple of friends or family members, I would get this, otherwise I would be hesitant to recommend it. 3 stars for the 1-player game, 4 stars for the multiplayer aspect.
(1) Taken from the instruction manual
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