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Xavix Review: Bowling

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An impressive showing for the technology, the simply titled Bowling is what it says it is. You hold a small ball, complete with finger holes, aim, and then swing it towards the screen. It’s a quick pick-up-and-play title, though hardly an accurate representation of the sport.

The massive package contains the bright green bowling ball and the cart itself. The cartridge varies from standard Xavix pieces in that it has a small camera-like receptor on top. Why this game requires this and others don’t is unknown.

A small set of options are presented before entering the game. All choices must be made on the console itself, as the ball contains no buttons. A standard set of characters is available, though their only purpose is to track stats. You never see them once on the lane.

You can bowl in a tournament or with others. A few mini-games create some wild fun, including a falling block puzzle mode that requires the player to rapidly toss the ball down the lane to keep the screen from filling up. A timed challenge presents various difficult shots, which need to be completed before the timer goes off.

Those become the best feature of the game. The ball is responsive to the player’s throw, yet it cannot pick up a turn of the wrist to add spin. Instead, you need to select the desired amount of hook before you throw, and annoyingly, this is done with the buttons on the hardware.

There are no pin physics programmed at all. Once the throw is made, the game registers where it hit and plays a pre-rendered video to show the result. Picking up the 7-10 split is far too easy. Actually, it’s harder to miss it since it doesn’t seem to matter how you hit the pins.

Positioning yourself requires a large room. Impressively, it recognizes exactly where you’re standing in relation to virtual lane. This means you’ll need to physically move left or right before the toss. Ensuring there is nothing you can accidentally hit is definitely more important than it should be.

Repetitive music provides the backdrop to a static game. The lanes are lifeless and it appears that you’re the only one on the lanes. Animation of the ball rolling down the lane is sloppy.

If you have the hardware, Bowling is worth it for the mini-games alone. Adjusting to the awkward and completely unrealistic mechanics can still lead to a fun time with friends. Otherwise, this is an easy title to skip.

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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 His current passion project is the technically minded You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.