IGN Review of Brunswick Pro Bowling
Chances are, if you're reading this review, you own a Wii. If you own a Wii, you've played Wii Sports, and subsequently Wii Bowling. You've spent doubtless countless hours with your little sister or grandma, ripping balls down the lanes and watching the Miis go wild. It is hard not to love Wii Bowling's relaxed approach to the sport; how anyone can simply pick up the Wiimote and start throwing strikes within minutes. Then there's Brunswick Pro Bowling.
The prospect of an officially licensed, full-fledged bowling simulation for the Wii was an exciting one, to say the least. Despite the incredibly good Wii Bowling as a potential template and benchmark for the people at Point of View, what began as a logical stepping-stone for drawing in fans of Wii Sports ultimately fails in execution. A steep learning curve, poor presentation, horrendous graphics, and virtually non-existent sound effects mar this ambitious undertaking. However, if patience is one of your virtues, then Brunswick Pro Bowling has some redeeming qualities that may keep experienced players at the alley.
If one wakes up on the masochistic side of the mattress on the morning of purchase, one may select the game's Career mode (or save some self-respect and just hop right into the action with Quick Play), with the ability to gain experience points, earn cash to purchase new equipment and clothes, and traverse through the world that is professional bowling. Players begin by selecting and customizing their avatars, choosing from various superficial augmentations that don't feel overly original, and act more as a silent reminder that implementing Miis into the fray is simply not an option.
Once you step out into the alley, you'll be reminded, yet again, that this is most certainly not Wii Bowling. After selecting the alignment and angle of the shot, the on-screen bowling animation begins, but is disconnected from the actual movement of the player's arm and motion of the Wiimote. The timing will take a short while to get used to, and is an impediment to the game being a quick "pick up and play" party game. Things get further complicated with the dynamic lane conditions throughout the match. By pressing 2 on the Wiimote, the game displays which parts of the lane are slickest with fresh oil, and the parts without, which have more friction and are slower. The patterns are simple at the outset of the career mode, and get more elaborate and difficult in later stages. While this adds depth to the gameplay, it takes far too much trial and error to figure out how to get the ball from the fault line to the head pin.
After overcoming the initial shock of the intricacies of bowling, there is a lot of fun to be had here. But it likely won't be found in the career mode, as it can take a painstakingly long time to bring the personalized character up to a competitive level. Many players may simply choose to stick with the Quick Play mode, where bowlers have their stats already set, and won't throw the ball down the lane at painfully slow speeds.
To the game's credit, there is the ability to earn experience points to improve arm strength, accuracy, hook control, and stamina. Better balls are for sale, with the fancier ones boasting the best hook percentage, breakpoint shape, and flare potential. You can even buy wrist guards to improve your hook. Or beef up your character's wardrobe, sporting fancy shades, hats, or pants, improving the player's reputation and consequently throwing off opponents' game and concentration in the heat of battle. There is depth here, but only if you've got the patience to stick around.
While the controls can be responsive at later stages when the player gets more comfortable, it still feels like the game could have been designed without the Wiimote in mind. Sure, it would be a great deal more frustrating, but it certainly doesn't bode well for the developers' efforts when you realize that the same outcome could have been reached with an analogue stick.
Wii Bowling was no graphical or acoustic paradise; yet, it still felt infinitely more polished than Brunswick. Despite the option to select bowling locales scattered across the globe, from Tokyo to Reno to Honolulu and back, all the alleys suffer from horrible aliasing, brutally rendered and animated characters, and the general feeling that the locales are all pretty much the same. When a strike is scored, lame two-dimensional and low resolution sprites march across the screen - an angry pin holding a picket sign saying "strike!", followed by a few other sympathizers
hilarity ensues. If you score a spare, a spare tire rolls across the screen
bust out the funny. The sound effects and music are a complete and utter joke. There is virtually no ambient noise, and the sparse aural interludes when the ball hits the lane or the pins make the mute button on the TV grossly appealing.
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