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PBA Bowling

For: Mobile

Great balls of fire

Product: PBA Bowling | Publisher: Concrete Software | Format: Mobile | Genre: Casual, Sports | Players: 1-2 | Networking: on one device | Format: J2ME | File size: 696KB | Reviewed on: K810i other handsets | Version: Europe
PBA Bowling Mobile, thumbnail 1
If there's one sport we think a game probably doesn't require an official licence for it's bowling. That's on the basis that we'd struggle to name one world champion bowler, so they might as well have names like Mr Pink.

But, hey, PBA Bowling has a licence anyway, and that means you get to go up against the likes of Pete Weber, Robert Smith and Chris Barnes. Excited? That probably means you're a bit more of a bowling fan than your average once-a-month something-to-do frequenter of their local Hollywood Bowl then. Or American. (Which isn't a criticism, obviously.)

PBA Bowling has a few more tricks up its sleeve other than world famous bowlers, however. It also has two fairly unique features. First, there's a choice to play the game using your phone camera as a motion detector. Second, you can design your own bowling balls, choosing everything from their weight to their colour and pattern. Oh, and whether they explode upon contact with the pins. More on that later.

So, the game's camera feature is only compatible with certain phones but if it works with yours then you can look forward to being able to place your ball manually, then physically swing your phone to throw the ball – the faster, the more powerful your bowl. You can then add spin as the ball travels as you do if you choose more conventional controls – by pressing left or right.

It's a neat gimmick, albeit one you probably won't use that much, especially if you're playing in a public place. But it's also not one that really makes the game any better seeing as using the traditional controls works just as well.

Onto the game's design-a-ball feature, then, and you'll find you can design and save up to ten bowling balls to then use in the game. Special abilities are unlocked the more you play and these can also be integrated into your ball's design.

However, don't expect to be able to play your 'bumper ball' (one which stays out of the gutter) during a tournament. Such tactics are clearly frowned upon in the PBA, so those are solely for use in one-off games and also the Spare Challenge, which sets you up a series of pins in varyingly tough positions to try to put down with your spare.

It's probably for the best, as equipped with the 'massive ball' (no prizes for guessing what that one's special ability is) it's pretty hard not to score a strike. Even though balls such as the 'hyper', which just travels so fast down the lane you hardly have time to add any spin, actually make the game tougher, they're all still fun to unlock.

Anyway, alongside these special features, PBA Bowling does still offer a nuts and bolts bowling game. It's one that plays similarly to most before it, too. For each bowl, you set the position to bowl from, then the angle, then stop a power bar as high or low as you want it and, finally, add spin as the ball travels down the lane.

All this works perfectly well. Our only criticisms would be that balls seem to belt down the lane pretty quick and the camera angle doesn't always make it that easy to see when spin needs to be added before it's too late. Because the game is fast paced, strikes can feel a bit random and it's not that easy to pull off the same bowl twice. Also, you can only have one game save on the go at a time, so you can't nip out of a tournament to play the Spare Challenge without having to overwrite it and start again.

Still, PBA packs in the features and there's a lengthy game there waiting to be completed. And with the different modes (including pass-the-handset two-player) and unlockables, you won't consign it to the gutter in a hurry.
PBA Bowling
Reviewer photo
Kath Brice | 2 July 2008
An impressively feature-packed bowling game which offers more than the norm. It's a solid effort, if not a perfect one
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