Games for Lunch: Brunswick Pro Bowling
0:00 Bowling was by far my favorite part of Wii Sports, so I'm looking forward to see what a game with a "Pro" license can do with the concept.
0:01 Right off, I'm doubled over by the Disc Channel's hilarious, bass-heavy R&B groove. This is possibly the least appropriate bowling music I've ever heard.
0:02 In the options menu, the music starts at 70 percent and the sound effects at 60 percent. Is this a concession to the cranky old people that are the game's target audience?
0:03 On to Career mode. The create-a-bowler has a perpetual frown and slumped shoulders. He looks like he'd rather be anywhere else. Bad sign.
0:05 Still playing around with the somewhat meager character creation options. "Facial-hair type 2" is a perfect Hitler mustache. I love it! There are a grand total of two body types: Athletic and Husky.
0:06 HuskyHilter is too long for the name field, so HskyHtlr will have to do. But we know what his real name is.
0:07 Selectable shoes types are "classic" and "rentals." That is just too precious!
0:08 "Welcome to the Brunswick Pro Bowling Career Mode!" I get $100 allowance and find out I need a 179 average to move up from Beginner to Intermediate league. My high score in real life is 181, so this might be tough.
0:10 Let's go into Practice mode first. The short loading screen tells me that a perfect game is 12 strikes in a row, for a score of 300. Gee, game, I may not be a pro bowler, but I'm not an idiot.
0:11 And Husky Hitler is on the lanes! The camera pans dramatically around a rather drab looking alley full of blocky bowlers.
0:12 The controls are kind of odd. The game uses the d-pad to choose the direction, but you have to hold down B and twist the remote to line up the shot. It seems a little counterintuitive to me.
0:13 As I make my first throwing motion, the on-screen character goes into autopilot, moving forward in a seemingly preset animation that has practically no relation to my actual movement. The ball veers off to the left and I get seven pins. Don't ask me why -- I was trying to throw it straight.
0:14 This time I hold back with my follow through and get the ball to go perfectly straight. HuskyHitler has a spare!
0:15 Frame two ends up a nine (a five and a four) and my character pumps his fists in frustration. The game continues to give me no meaningful feedback on what makes a good or bad throw. Am I going too fast? Not enough twist? The throwing animation is so removed form my motions that I have no idea.
0:16 I somehow get the curve to work perfectly of frame three: a strike for Husky Hitler! He's elated, then immediately goes back to being stiff and stony-faced, waiting for me to hit a button. That sour face really takes you out of the moment
0:20 I'm loving the little hand-drawn animations that appear after momentous events. The gutter ball has a pin with a little hobo's sack-cloth walking away. Cute. I also like the placard-holding pins that signify a "strike." Get it?
0:23 Speeding through the rest of the game leaves me up with three spares, three strikes and a 146 score. I'm having trouble getting fine control on the spins. Either it goes perfectly straight or it curves way too much -- there's no middle ground.
0:24 Off to Event 1, "League Night." Wow! Exciting! I guess you have to start somewhere, but a game with "Pro" in the title should not really have "League Night."
0:25 The game actually makes me watch my opponent, a guy named Benjamin Martin, bowl his frames. This is unskippable. I have to sit here and watch for 30 seconds while Ben throws his frame. This is a travesty.
0:27 I am a fan of the pin physics, so far. They seem heavier and more real than the ones in Wii Sports.
0:30 It seems I'm already to the point where I'm getting a strike or a spare on every frame. My opponent, meanwhile, is struggling with 7s and 8s.
0:31 I take back my previous statement -- I just missed two spares in a row.
0:32 These post-throw animations are getting really old already. There's no life to them -- they just comes off as antiseptic. The mostly-empty bowling alley with generic rock-ish music and no announcer doesn't help.
0:33 I get a 135 on my second game, mostly because I miss a lot of easy-seeming spares. I still outdo Ben's score of 122, so my "reputation has increased by 1." Uh, whoopee?
0:36 Quick Play mode has a variety of lane locations, including Tokyo, Honolulu, Paris and... St Louis, Missouri? Really? Whatever. They all pretty much look the same from the pictures.
0:38 The Quick Play characters each have their own strength, accuracy and hook ratings. The player I created for my career had no such options. What's more, the players don't seem balanced at all. Trevor's scores are in the 60s to 80s, while Mark's are in the 20s to 40s. It's a decent way to handicap different players, I guess.
0:41 For my first throw, I line up just off center and throw a perfectly straight shot by literally pulling the Wii Remote s
traight back and not pushing it forward at all. The ball rolls like deadweight and it's a strike. Hmm.
0:42 Repeating this experiment gets me (in order): 9, strike, 9, strike, 9, strike, strike, 8 (split), strike. Who knew being a pro was so easy?
0:49 To kill some time, I go back to League Night to try out my new perfect method. The ball is curving now, for some reason, and I can't pick up my spares. Total score: 125. Bleh.
Would I play this game for more than an hour: No.
Why: It is worse than one-fifth of a game that came for free with the system.
This column was based on a copy of the game rented from GameFly.
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