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Kingpin Lanes

For: iPad   Also on: iPhone

Not bowled over

Product: Kingpin Lanes | Developer: Speedbump Studios | Publisher: Speedbump Studios | Format: iPad | Genre: Simulation, Sports | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Kingpin Lanes iPad, thumbnail 1
Games are supposed to excise the boring bits of real life and cut to whatever chase they're trying to sell us. You probably wouldn't buy a football game that made you drive to the game in real time and spend upwards of 40 minutes waiting for your shirt to wash.

Which makes Kingpin Lanes's decision to let you wander around its bowling alley all the more strange. When you actually get down to the business of hurling a heavy ball in the direction of some wood it's great, but the rest of the game can be infuriating.

Rolling near the gutter

Powered by the Unreal Engine, Kingpin Lanes simulates your career as a bowling alley hustler. You hone your skills, then take on other bowlers and try and beat the scores they've set you in order to win cash. Cash buys new balls, clothes, and other bowling accoutrements.

The bowling itself is controlled by flicks. You position yourself on the lane, then double-tap your ball to get ready, before flicking a finger up the screen to bowl your ball in the desired direction. A straight flick creates a straight bowl, while an angled one adds spin and swerve.

Dragging your finger creates a slower bowl, but go too slow and you'll have to sit and watch as your ball drifts slowly and irretrievably into the gutter. You can also add aftertouch - or "mojo" - to your bowl to make sure it hits true, but you only have a limited amount of this and need to use it wisely.

When you're not bowling you'll stumble around the alley, controlling your apparently drunk bowler with a floating joystick at the bottom left of the screen. You swipe to look around, and will probably spend most of your time stuck behind a chair or wandering around in circles.

Bowl infection

There are arcade games to play and other bowlers to interact with as you wander around, but really the free-roaming aspect of the game acts as little more than a distraction from the bowling meat. It's an annoyance that keeps you away from what the game's really about.

And that's a shame, because the bowling here is pretty impressive. The physics are off occasionally, and sometimes your swipes don't register correctly, but when things are going smoothly Kingpin Lanes offers one of the best bowling experiences on the iPad. It just takes far too long to get there.

Kingpin Lanes
Reviewer photo
Harry Slater | 2 April 2013
While there is a decent bowling experience here, it gets a little lost behind unnecessary frippery and slippery controls
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