Limited character customization options. Annoying music. No character voices. Controls lack some realism. Unbalanced CPU AI.
An alternative to the hustle & bustle of bowling alleys, this game brings the experience home to the Xbox. You can play standard bowling on a variety of rather unusual lanes and locations (like a pirate ship, ancient ruins, even a space station), or play some rather unusual variations with up to 4 players.
The graphics are relatively simple despite some nicely detailed backgrounds. The bowling alley setting is recreated very well, but the character animations are not very fluid (it looks like they skip frames sometimes) and they lack details in areas. The backgrounds all look very nice and have plenty of details to match, and frame rate during gameplay is very smooth. Sound effects are excellent-the bowling sounds, like the ball rolling and hitting the pins, have been perfectly re-created here. The music quickly gets annoying and there also are no voices during gameplay. Controls are fairly simple, limited mainly to moving your player to where you want to stand, them selecting the ball's path, then a couple of button presses to aim and shoot. One problem is that it doesn't mention you can also use the Right Thumbstick to advance between lining up your player and aiming the ball, which is a convenient feature but at first is confusing to figure out. Using the Trigger buttons to adjust spin is nice but the buttons are a little too sensitive for precise aiming and setup. The setup works well but is almost a little bit too simple. Gameplay is fairly accurate in comparison to regular bowling-you can play a normal game, tournament, a "Skins Game" for money, and even play a variation of Golf on the lanes, which is challenging and surprisingly fun. The rather unusual stage choices you have also add fun & replay value, plus there are several to unlock (even though it's very hard). The game lets you create your own bowler too-a great option but the character choices & options are far too limited despite being able to unlock extra characters & options through gameplay. You can play with up to 4 people or computer opponents, but the CPU AI generally is rather cheap and unbalanced. They may struggle one moment then the next they're totally schooling you. Online play is also included, and the $20 price tag is very appealing considering that wouldn't even get you 2 games in most bowling alleys today.
Despite the flaws and a slight "rush job" feeling, the price of the game and rather unusual gameplay variations are enough to make this worth looking at, especially if you're a bowling fan. And it'll save you a lot of money compared to going bowling for real, plus you'll always have open lanes here.