|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Vir2L Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: PUBLISHER||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: July 1, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
Back in the day, the local bowling alley was a place of excitement and adventure. The strategically attached arcade was responsible for consuming many allowances and creating sore wrists, but the act of grabbing a heavy ball and hurling it down a lane to send pins flying proved to be an equally addictive endeavor.
The elaborate strategy of the throw, the crack of the pins, and the ensuing victory dance (or stream of curses on a gutter ball) was as intoxicating as making it past the first few waves of Galaga or Pac Man on a single quarter.
It's true; video games and bowling seem to be a good match. However, the nature of the real game does not always translate well into digital form. The slew of virtual bowling games released across all manner of gaming systems over the years tend to be hit-and-miss in terms quality and entertainment value. AMF Bowling Pinbusters on the DS is no exception. Pinbusters, developer Vir2L Studios has put together a solid nuts-and-bolts bowling game that provides an outlet for gamers hankering to hit the lanes for a few on-the-go matches. It does an adequate job of emulating the basic bowling gameplay on the handheld and injects a touch of goofiness into the sport, with a little over-the-top flair and plenty of pizzazz to spice things up. Despite this, numbingly repetitive gameplay and limited appeal makes this title hard to recommend. It's not a bad game, but it's just not a particularly great one either.
In Word Cup, the main gameplay mode, you'll pick from a dozen different unusual characters and hit the lanes for a shot at becoming a world bowling champion. The motley crew is all over the board, ranging from bowling geeks and hipsters to more outlandish types. Each has their own skill ratings for power and ball control and a unique special ability that can be trigged by accruing psyche points. From there, you'll compete in a series of one-on-one bowling tournaments set in a bizarre cornucopia of colorful and cleverly designed locations.
Every stop along the World Cup tour offers a completely different vibe and visual style. There's a generic, classic bowling alley, a soccer field, a futuristic, neon-adorned area, a discotheque, parched desert plains, a medieval caste, a swim resort, spooky woods, a fun pack, and outer space, among other strange sites. The extreme level of variety is interesting, though a bit painful on the eyes at times. The colorful, 3D art style works well overall though, and the character animations are reasonably detailed.