Even though it's a clone of the original, Jamdat Bowling 2 adds a ton of interesting new features and is a very worthwhile download.
Jamdat Bowling 2 offers all the enjoyment of bowling without the ugly shoes, awful food, and sore muscles. And even if "enjoyment" and "bowling" are two words you'd never use in the same sentence, Bowling 2's deceptively simple gameplay and multiplayer options make it a 300-score sequel to the best-selling mobile game of all time.
You probably already know the basic aspects of the great sport of bowling. Basically, you roll an oversized (roughly) 10-pound ball at a set of pins while trying to knock over as many as possible. This could have been reduced to a simple exercise that revolved around just pointing the virtual ball at the digital pins and then letting it fly, but Jamdat wisely kept the multidimensional bowling engine from the original Bowling intact for the sequel. The setup's simple enough. You control a ball at one end of the alley, while a flotilla of pins awaits at the far end. To send the ball hurtling accurately down the lane, however, you have to deal with four different challenges. First, you must position the ball for your roll by shifting it to the right or left of the alley. Next, a sliding meter allows you to select your shot's power. Once you've chosen your power level, you must aim the ball with an arrow that slides back and forth across the alley. Finally, you can choose to place spin on the ball, which allows it to tail to the right or left as it navigates toward its intended target.
On the most basic button-twitch level, all of the settings--save for positioning the ball--require good reflexes. A hiccup up here or a thumb-stutter there, and you've aimed your shot straight for the gutter. More importantly, your shot's power determines the ease of aiming and the effects of spin. A high-power shot yields an aiming arrow that flitters across the screen like a hyperactive jitterbug. A soft one is easier to aim, but your shot is less likely to send pins careening into one another for a strike. Spin serves as a corrective measure, so if your aim is off, you can use it to nudge the ball back on course. Spin has a smaller effect on stronger shots, thus compounding the difficulties of landing an accurate, powerful attempt. The gameplay is essentially identical to Jamdat Bowling, but its fun factor is still going strong.
The improvements to Bowling 2 reflect several years of progress in audiovisual and online development. The in-game graphics are brighter and more realistic-looking, replacing the monotone scheme of the original alley with a detailed, cartoony mock-up. The menu system has been completely reworked and is customizable using downloadable skins. Bowling 2 benefits greatly from the addition of sound effects, too, so you'll find yourself taking a mental bow when you hear the crowd roar after a turkey. The online-enabled features are multifarious and are generally pretty awesome. You can download news, look at your world rankings, and even test your skills against others using multiplayer! Before agreeing to a matchup, Bowling 2 allows you to look at a prospective opponent's stats to avoid total mismatches. Unfortunately, the online system lacks the ability to pair you with players whose stats match your own, which means that you'll face a lot of blowouts until you master the game. Unlike in real bowling, you never have to wait for your turn, so each player completes a game and compares scores at the end of it. This online play seems to work well, aside from cowardly opponents who lose their connections before you have a chance to take them to school. Bowling 2 also adds a pass-and-play mode, which is great for settling any number of petty disputes.
Even though it's a clone of the original--gameplay-wise--Jamdat Bowling 2 adds a ton of interesting new features and is a very worthwhile download. It's highly recommended to league-night enthusiasts and inept bumper-bowlers alike.