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Nintendo Wii Review: Brunswick Pro Bowling

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With a somewhat impressive resume including Tiger Woods 06 for the Xbox 360, Blitz the League, and multiple Poker efforts, the latest from developer Point of View is a missed opportunity that can’t compete with the free pack-in title for the Wii. Brunswick Pro Bowling is an inconsistent, frustrating mess. Its only advantage is a career mode, likewise littered with complaints.

While it may seem like common sense, Lead Developer Kraig Horigan and his team have decided not to include a tutorial. Unlike Wii Sports, the motion controls are not 1:1 with the on-screen avatar. The animation is pre-determined, regardless of when the player physically swings the controller. This leads to questions as to when the ball should be released, when the wrist should turn for spin, and if the motion should follow the sluggish animation.

Even something as simplistic as a meter on-screen to help newcomers to adjust to the timing requirement would be a wonderful inclusion. Oddly, other editions of the game offer it. It’s out of place to see Wii owners left out.

This is only the beginning of this anemic $40 bowling title, one that retails for a little as $15 on competing consoles. Something is not right here. The menu itself is admittedly more than Wii Sports offers, yet compared to other sports titles in the same price range, there’s nothing here worth noting.

Creating a character is astonishingly limited when heading into the career more. If you wear glasses, be prepared to pay for them from the limited initial funds. Even when digging through the available options in the game’s pro shop, there’s little to note. Paying $400 for a shirt is absurd, and having it effect stats is even worse.

New players who jump in and want to simply throw some balls down the lane to begin their lifetime goal of becoming a pro bowler will find some snags in their plan. A fresh bowler is frustratingly weak. If you naturally put spin on the ball, forget it. The amount of spin is determined by a slowly building stat that increases with the purchase of new equipment or by competing. There is no power behind the ball, and difference between playing a quick match with pre-built characters and your own is a staggeringly different play experience.

Grating music sits in the background, and you’ll need to prepare to listen to it for some time. There is no option to skip other bowlers. You’re required to watch the A.I. bowlers run through the agonizingly slow, unnatural animation before every turn. There’s not even an option to speed up the turn.

The core mechanics are fair at best. Pins feature far better collision than Wii fans will be accustomed to, but they have no weight behind them. They fly through air at times as if they’re filled with air. Oil on the lane will have an overreaching effect on the ball, making it nearly impossible at times to throw straight for those amateurs who naturally play this way.

The astounding effect of Wii Sports is undeniable. With Brunswick Pro Bowling, that little pack-in that has likely launched a few million Wii-addicts into society retains its crown in what can hardly be labeled a competition. You already own a wonderful bowling game. Why spend money for one that doesn’t even feel like it’s trying to unseat a pack-in?

Brunswick Pro Bowling is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB. This game can also be found on: PS2, PSP.


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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.
  • alan

    I don’t think Wii sports bowling is at all 1:1 with the controller. Tennis isn’t either. In fact I really don’t think any of them are truly 1:1.

  • Will

    I have to disagree with the comment about the oil. Oil does play a big factor in real bowling, but many people that just rent a ball and shoes from the alley probably don’t understand that. When you are throwing for your character, the game assumes that the character is a “real” bowler (for lack of a better term). Therefore, the oil does effect your reaction based on what kind of ball you throw, the amount of spin and the speed of the ball.

    I do agree with everything else, though. This game is a huge disappoint. I understand there will be an AMF bowling game coming out by Bethesda. From what I have read, it should be out for Christmas time.

  • http://www.breakingwindows.com Matt Paprocki

    I never said oil didn’t play a factor in real life. It does, critically so. However, this game is far off in terms of how it handles it. It’s unnatural effect on the ball makes some throws impossible.

  • http://www.breakingwindows.com/ Ken Edwards

    You know, I was really looking forward to this title. Yes, that is sad in and of itself, but I was. I guess I will hold on hope for the AMF one.

  • Jacob

    Don’t buy this game. It is a waste of both time and money. I agree with all the comments above. One more thing, anyone want to buy a used, once, Brunswick Pro Bowling game?

  • Will

    Okay, so then maybe a better way to describe it is that it has an unrealistic effect on how the game plays. That I can definitely agree with.

  • Steve K.

    I am beginning to wish I’ve seen this before I bought this game. I was hoping for a “Tiger Woods PGA Tour Golf” of bowling. Overall, the game can be fun with a bit of patience, but I certainly wish there was better feed-back as to how your approach and swing is actually doing. It seems almost like a crap shoot of what you’ll actually get going down the lane sometimes (i.e., I aimed across alley to try to pick up a single pin, only for the ball to end up going in the gutter opposite the side the pin is on!) It really is difficult to get a “feel” for how your swing and release is going.

    I do also wish there was more options for customizing the look of the in-game character. For example, I am a male with long, wavy blond hair, shame I can’t do that for my in-game character (yet I can do that on a friggan Mii!).

    From my own experience the pin physics is pretty decent and definitely better than the packed in Wii Sports Bowling. Same with the graphics. However, the sound is definitely a bit on the anemic side, though. To bad there are no voice overs ala Tiger Woods, plus it would’ve been neat to have the character make occasional remarks like I often see in the real thing (and believe me, although I am certainly no professional bowler, but I’ve bowled my fair share of local leagues). Also, if there is a game that is crying for the option to put your own music in, this is definitely it (I may have to just mute the thing and play my own music through my stereo instead)!

    I don’t think this game is terribly “bad”, but I was really hoping for a bit better presentation, though (I bought this thinking it HAS to be better than the packed in Wii Sports bowling). I guess I’ll have to see how the rumored AMF bowling game turns out. I may end up trading this one in for the AMF one if it turns out to be a much better bowling experience, especially if it is closer to the type of experience I get with golf in the Tiger Woods game.

  • Bo Pedersen

    Well guys just got this game as a surprise leaving gift from work.

    I was soooo looking forward to this game, and am sadly disappointed,

    To add to the comments above I dont think wrist movement has anything to do with hook like it has on Wii Sports Bowling, I think hook is more determined by your bowler stats.

    and it is so bad not being able to use the 1-step drill to take a shot,

    0/10 for this game its getting traded in for Rockstar Tennis!!!

  • http://www.google.ca Ty

    I bought this thinking it would be similar to an EA sports titale also but man was I wrong.

    Just looking at the options they have when you create a character was enough for me to immediately bring it back to the store.

    Gameplay was also terrible. what the hell do you even do, most the time it didnt even respond to the controller.

    this game is garbage.

  • blaine

    does anyone know if playing video games quickns reactions

  • #11

    This Game Sucks I wish I would have known about how bad this game was before I bought this piece of crap. I am a pretty good bowler, but if soneone that has never bowl before would play this game. that Person would never step into a bowling alley and bowl for real. I about ready to dake this game and throw it has far as I can. Or maybe I break the game into so many pieces and mail it back to CRAVE Games. do you think they would get the hint. before I buy anymore games I will rent them first to see how well I like the game before I buy it.