Sunday, September 8, 2013

Game 2: 10-Pin Bowling

I'm finding that, as a rule, games that start with numbers are not the most inspiring bunch. First we get a licensed game, now we get a generic bowling game. You don't even want to know what's coming next.

That said, this title screen is super nice, huh? I mean, look at it. All the excitement of bowling, the ball rolling, the pin colliding, the...9...and the's all there! I mean, there's no beer or vietnam vets with guns, but other than that I think they nailed it.

"Now now, don't get so excited just because of a title screen" I hear you saying from the future. "There's more to bowling than still pictures of things colliding and random numbers, friend." Fair enough. Well, sort of anyway because I actually hate bowling, so to me the "more" to bowling is embarrassment, wrist pain, and really strange smells. I really really hope this game doesn't smell like old nachos and sweat.

It doesn't use the "Smell Pak" so I think I'm okay
The first option I am presented with is whether or not I want to play by myself or with a friend. I'm worried that the option to play with a friend requires the fabled Link Cable (TM) to use, so I don't select that. Also I don't have any friends.

Then I am given the option to name myself.

As a true artist, I choose BALLRWW
I misspell "BALLS" as "BALLR" and there is no option to delete a letter. Or move the cursor. I try putting in random letters to see if it will wrap around to the beginning...and now I'm stuck with the name you see above. Maybe it's better than trying to name myself after sensitive anatomy, but I'm still disappointed. 

Off to the lanes! this it?
Yep, that's it. That's the game. When I hold A my Baller suddenly appears holding his ball. The little red icon at the bottom of the screen starts racing to the right and I have to quickly choose the speed of the throw and the curve using the D-pad. Obviously I miss these subtleties on the first throw and completely miss.

Ha ha, just kidding I get a strike!
Yep! Strike on my first throw at the very lowest speed, no curve, exactly in the center of the lane. "This should be easy" I think to myself with absolutely no foreshadowing whatsoever. Next time, I'll even add a bit of speed to it and that should definitely be - 
I guess it's not as easy as I think.

I am starting to understand what's happening though. The little red icon represents my bowler running towards the lane. If I cross into the red zone, I foul. I guess if I let the button go early my bowler hucks the ball while he's still10 feet away from the lane because he's insane.

Interestingly, the animation for hitting the pins always shows a strike, and the little pin-knocker-downer thingy comes down and shoves them all in the back. Then, if I missed anything, the pins suddenly reappear at the end of the lane. It's really strange and adds a level of tension as I wait to see what I actually got. I assume this is strictly due to restrictions on the Game Boy, but it's interesting nonetheless.

Fortunately for those of us who can't handle interesting things, nothing else is really up for grabs. This game does exactly what it sets out to do, and nothing else. 10-Pin Bowling indeed.

I add a bit of curve to my next shot, try to get it in the sweet spot, and end up getting a dreaded 7-10 split. On my next throw the ball goes right through the middle and misses everything because obviously hitting pins is for abusive assholes.

Actually this is a 7-10-and-some-other-pins split.
The rest of the game goes much like this. I try some nice curves...

"Nice curves!" he said to his balls
...that end up in a distinct "no pin zone". I try rolling straight, rolling slow, rolling really fast. Notably I get no more strikes, or even a spare the entire game. It's all downhill and I end with a score of...
300! It's so perfect it shows up as blank.
That BALLRWY guy sucks though
And that's it! The game reboots and I get the wonderful title screen again.

I did try the two-player mode just to see if it uses the cable.

Always taking the high road, that's me.
Turns out it's "pass the brick" style play and you get to take turns on the same machine. The second bowler also gets a nice makeover from green to orange, and rolls blue balls, which is nice I guess. 

For a game that says "10-Pin Bowling" on the box, somehow I was expecting more. I don't know what else you could do without changing the name of the game (10-Pin Bowling And Also F-1 Racing just doesn't have the same ring to it) but I still found myself disappointed. 

I can imagine myself getting this game for Christmas from my grandmother at 11 years old.  "I heard you like the Gaming Boy, and I know you like bowling as much as I do!" she says. I try hard to hide my disappointment, but fail and the look of sadness that crosses her face wracks me with guilt. After getting a talking to from my mother for being rude, she takes the game away from me for a week. I forget about it and never play it, it rots in a closet somewhere until I move out 7 years later. I find it and brush off the dust, pop it in the Gaming Boy - "oh yeah, I forgot this!" - and am completely unsurprised at its contents. I begin my new life, newly prepared for all the little disappointments that I will inevitably face. Eventually I get a job as an accountant and get a really nice TV and couch. Years later I have a heart attacking playing Wii X Bowling Xtravaganza. The last words on my lips as I descend into the final dementia of death - "it's a GAME Boy grandma" - are heard by no one. I rot in my apartment for 3 weeks before anyone finds (smells) me and when they take me away the EMT shakes their head. "It's always so sad when this happens."

10/10 A+ would roll again.

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