It’s the 10th frame and I have eight pins down with two still standing – staring me in the face and laughing. As I palm my ball from the ball return I envision the destruction of the ivories at the end of the lane.
I line up my approach, cup the ball against my wrist and let the ball fly down the lane with a slight spin to the left. With not enough spin, I clip one of the pins on the right side and it flops to the back, leaving the other pin upright. With a sigh of disappointment, I leave the lane, leave the balls in the ball return, don’t return my shoes and put more tokens into the ball return for 10 more frames.
Ah, the convenience of arcade bowling.
I like to bowl. I’m not superbly amazing at the sport, but I really enjoy it. I love arcades. They may be close to dead in the U.S., but growing up in an era where arcade machines could do what consoles couldn’t, arcades have a special place in my heart. Not surprisingly, when the two are combined, I have fun.
U.S. arcades are pretty much in an era where if there’s no gimmick attached, you won’t find it. The simplicity of having a joystick and a button or two is lost among the lineup of deluxe cabinets sporting light guns, steering wheels and instruments. The name of the arcade these days is interaction – in most games in arcades now, you are the controller. But, so far, nothing I’ve encountered so far has matched the real thing pound for pound than the recent addition of arcade “candlestick” bowling to arcades.
While the concept is about two years in age, the actual product is starting to make its way into arcades on a more available basis. As the product is becoming more available, it is also becoming more popular, with a number of locations now operating leagues based on the machines.
The arcade machines are welcome for bowling as it offers a cheap, quick and easy alternative to renting a lane. For casual bowlers there’s no shoe rentals, you don’t have to spend five minutes picking out a ball and a full game costs about two dollars less than at most allies. As a bonus, good play is rewarded in some locations with redemption tickets. If I can score above 100, that means Tootsie Rolls for everyone.
Most machines are also in bar locations, which mean the beer frame doesn’t disappear. With most machines supporting up to four players, the social aspect of bowling is still present.
Will the arcade machines replace bowling as we know it? No. But the fact that bowling could possibly be found at the arcades I love to frequent? That’s awesome.