|System: PS2, Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Point of View||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Crave||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Aug. 27, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Cole Smith
Bowling has long been the bastion of nerds. And it still is, as far as I'm concerned. There's nothing cool about bowling. Never has been, never will be. It may be fun, like riding a moped, but it's not cool. You can dress it up with bands, disco lights, trendy cocktail lounges, but underneath it all, it's still bowling. I don't care if Britney, Timberlake, 50 Cent, and Paris partake. It's still bowling. Nothing has changed. Suck it up. But there are no scores for coolness, so there's still a chance this game could get really high marks - then I put it into the PS2.
One of the first questions I asked myself was, "Why a bowling game?" Is there some kind of underground bowling fad sweeping the nation that I'm unaware of? Are there bowling fetishes? Is this something that people need and want? I'm sure the answer is no to all those questions, but just to be on the safe side, I queried bowling on a popular search engine, and it's every bit as nerdy as it's always been. My integrity remains intact, unless of course you're a bowler. In which case you probably want to call me a bad name.
As a bowling game, my expectations were high. "This better be the best bowling game ever created," I thought to myself. Even though this is a budget title, the physics should be spot on. Why shouldn't they be? If you're going to release a bowling game in this day and age, there better be a reason for it. Whatever that reason was, I can't figure it out.
Brunswick Bowling is a budget title that lacks in virtually every aspect. It's not a bad looking game, the developers went out of their way to make sure that everything has a thick coating of gloss on it. When you throw the ball down the alley, it's like rolling over a mirror. It's overkill. Aside from the various bowling establishments and characters, there isn't much call for incredible graphics. As long as you can line up the pins at the end of the alley, and see something round rolling down it, that's really all that you need. And that's pretty much all you get.
Characters are selected at the beginning of the game. There are no differences among them as far as stats go. Nothing to exploit, and what you eventually acquire seems to make no difference. Skill points apparently increase your character's abilities, but once you get the hang of the easy control system, these points are redundant. There are a limited number of customizing options such as hairstyle, skin color, clothes, and other accessories. These characters never speak. I felt like I was in a tournament for mutes. In an embarrassing attempt to cover up the silence and make this game somewhat cool, cheesy rock tunes are used for the soundtrack. The tunes are generic, like a Muzak version of Black Flag. How's that for an obscure reference? At this point, I would have been fine with some vintage Vegas lounge music. If this game could at least poke fun of itself, it wouldn't come off looking like such a failure. Let's dress those characters in horn rim glasses, have them giggle at risque jokes, and perhaps a storyline where one of the players actually has a chance of getting a date - with a member of the opposite sex.
I've bowled enough in real life to know that there is quite a bit of technique involved to control the ball accurately. In order to throw a strike you have to put some spin on the ball to make a hook shot. This is where the ball veers off to one side near the middle of the lane, only to change its course at the last moment, hitting the center pin on an angle. This technique greatly reduces splits, which are typically acquired by throwing the ball straight down the middle of the lane. However, you don't have to adopt this technique in Brunswick Bowling. Just master the control system and you'll be throwing strikes in less time than it takes to get a haircut from mommy.