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Review: Crash Bowling
Klik bowling games seem to be of a rare breed so when I saw this title I was immediately interested. When I learned that it was overhead I had my doubts, but decided to give it a try nonetheless. Although not perfect, Crash Bowling Plus is a competent game and fun to play. I’ve never played the original Crash Bowling, so I don’t know what was changed in this Plus edition.
Presentation: Well, it’s a bowling game and nothing else. The screen is split up into three lanes and there’s a general feel of being in a bowling alley. The scoreboard is on the right side of the screen, and there are monitors on the top of the alleys. There are also a couple of nice touches, such as the ball return lane, score screen, and pin setters. There are a couple of minor problems though. “Spare” is written as “Sper” and one time I threw the ball and the aiming cursor didn’t stop, which caused my ball to go right into the outlane. Other than that, I encountered no problems.
Graphics: The bowler’s movement is nearly identical to the character from Pokemon, so I’m assuming that he was modified to be in the game. The design of the character is fresh though, and it seems like all the other graphics are original. The graphics aren’t anything spectacular, but they do a good job of giving the feel of a bowling alley. It’s easy to tell what the different parts are, and there are some nice touches of detail.
Sound: There are two music tracks in the game, and they both appear to be midi versions of real songs (“Hold Me” and “Crash and Burn”). I guess a bowling game really doesn’t have a set style of music, but the fact that only one song plays as you bowl may become annoying after awhile. The song itself is decent, and I guess it doesn’t really take anything away from the gameplay, but it just seems…odd. For the sound effects, they’re basic sounds that do the job. The crashing of pins sounds right, and I don’t have any problems with the effect that plays when your ball returns. One thing I found kind of annoying after awhile was the grunt your bowler makes when he throws the ball, not the best choice.
Menu: White background with the choices in various colors. Everything is chosen by the mouse, and the selections are animated by shaking left and right. Nothing spectacular considering all the possibilities that could have been used for a bowling game. There are choices for starting a game with one, two, or three players, along with information on how to play, controls, and the design team. Oddly enough, there is no choice to exit, meaning you have to leave the game through ALT-F4 or something else. Progress to the submenus took a few seconds; this can get kind of annoying if you’re trying to explore all of the selections.
Gameplay: Although not spectacular, the bowling engine is solid and is quite tricky to master. First of all, this is not a simulation game, but more arcade-like in nature. After picking up your ball, a line appears above your head that constantly moves. This line is for aiming, and when it is facing the direction you want the ball to move you press the button. At first it was somewhat difficult to aim, but I soon learned how to master it. Once the ball is in play you can still have an influence on where it will move; in the middle of the lane there is a “spin zone” where you can press a certain button to manipulate the ball causing it go swing to the left or right. This adds an interesting level of skill to the game since in order to make a strike you’ll probably have to give it a certain edge. The physics seem to be decent, as the pins you hit will also knock down the pins next to them depending on how they were hit.
I’ll admit that I had a lot more fun with Crash Bowling Plus than I originally thought I would. Mastering the aiming and swing zone will definitely take a good amount of time, and this is the kind of game you can just load up when you need a quick break. The fact that up to three players can play at the same time is also a great feature. The only problem that I can really see is the lack of a high score system, the game would have benefited greatly from one. In the end, I can say that if you’re looking for a fun but challenging bowling game, you can’t go wrong with Crash Bowling Plus.
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