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.