Bowling 3D may well be the Solid Snake or Sam Fisher of the minis world, sneaking up on us all unsuspecting like and squeezing itself into the latest PlayStation Store update under the radar. Hopefully, it won’t kill us in our sleep like Snake or Sam though.
As far as I can tell (and I could be wrong, wouldn’t be the first time!), Bowling 3D is actually a minis exclusive, and hasn’t even appeared on iPhone or anywhere on the web.
We can moan all we like about the relatively high price of EA’s games (and frequently do!), but you can’t deny that the extra cash appears to go into making some top-notch, highly polished games.
Bowling 3D is a case in point, simply oozing undeniable class. It’s pitched closer to the more traditional end of the bowling game scale, going more for the authentic experience than all sorts of crazy pick-ups or exploding bowling balls.
There are six game modes in all to choose from. In Classic mode you try and get as high a score as possible over ten frames. In 3-Game Series you play three ten-frame games and tot up your total score to get your triple score.
In Strike-O-Thon you attempt to chain as many strikes together as possible, with play continuing until you leave an open frame. Spare-O-Thon mode has you trying to achieve some of bowling’s famous spares. You get three tries at each spare, and earn more points for the more difficult spares. This one’s quite a challenge, and possibly the most fun of all!
In Practice mode you just keep practicing knocking down pins with a single ball. If you press Square, you can access the Pins Selection Mode where you can cycle through the different Spare-O-Thon pin setups to practice specific strategies.
Pass ‘N Play is possibly one of the best modes on offer, as it enables you to play Classic, 3-Game Series, Strike-O-Thon or Spare-O-Thon with up to three of your mates.
As far as the actual gameplay goes, it’s pretty easy to learn, if not quite so easy to master! Lining up a shot involves a series of button presses. Start by using the left and right directional buttons to set the launch position and pressing X to confirm, then press X again to set the power when the power gauge appears, and then, most tricky of all, press X to set the direction of the aim meter as it goes back and forth. Finally, press X one more time to set the degree of ball spin.
Don’t be discouraged if you’re bowling a lot of gulley balls, to begin with, you’ll find that your timing will definitely improve with practice.
For all modes, you get to choose from three bowling alleys and nine different coloured balls. I really love the look and feel of the three different bowling alleys. They’re all very evocative of a certain type.
One is more retro and old-fashioned while the other two have lots of neon and bright lights and feel more modern. There’s no music, just the authentic sounds of pins being knocked down and general arcade hubbub. It really does sound and feel like you’re right there in the bowling alley. The bowling balls that you use also feel really weighty and believable.
Another really neat touch is the fact that you get to choose one of five different camera angles for the replay when you get a strike or spare.
Bowlers always seem to love their stats, so EA has catered for this too with a Highlights section featuring your Strike Ratio, Spare Ratio, and Gutter Ball Ratio stats, as well as any trophies that you might have unlocked for achievements such as two strikes in a row.
Essentially, Bowling 3D is a typical EA Game – extremely polished and well put together with lots of little extras to maintain your interest. I wasn’t that bothered about it until I started playing it, but it totally won me over and I’m sure I’ll be going back to it a lot in the future. If you’re looking for classic bowling action, this is your game.