High Velocity Bowling Hands-On

Arcade bowling with motion-sensing controls--it's not just for the Wii anymore.

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Wii Sports was popular thanks in no small part to its being a pack-in with the Nintendo Wii. But it was also popular because it made good use of the Wii's motion-sensing controls, particularly in Wii Sports Bowling. Sony has taken notice of the game's popularity and has introduced its own bowling game, called High Velocity Bowling, which will use the Sixaxis' motion-sensing capabilities. We were able to spend some time with the game at Sony's recent press event and came away with some detailed impressions.

High Velocity Bowling is an arcade-style bowling game that features several different game modes. You can play a quick game, play head-to-head against a friend or the CPU, enter tournaments, and test your shot-making abilities in trick shots. Trick shots range from having to curve the ball around a cone and then hit the pin behind it, to jumping the ball off a ramp or rolling it through the legs of a chair. There's no online play, but there are online leaderboards, and there are plenty of trophies, rings, and plaques to be earned as well.

There are 10 different bowlers, each of whom is unique in a number of ways. There's Carl the postal worker who bowls in a mailroom, Amber the former softball player who bowls in a bar, Mike the "little person" who bowls in a basement, and a number of other slightly off-the-wall characters. Each character has its own look and bowling alley as well as its own personality and personalized ball. The game's producer indicated that there will be future downloadable character packs available for an as-of-yet-to-be-determined price.

Once you've selected your game type and character, it's time to start bowling. There are no traditional controls, so you'll have to get off the couch and make like a real bowler. First you place the controller in your palm and grasp it. Then you twist the controller left or right to position your player, press X, and then do the same thing to aim, pressing X once again when you're finished. Once you've done that, you hold the X button down, bring your arm back and then release the X button when you want to let go of the ball. You can control the speed of the ball by swinging your arm faster or slower, and you can also add spin by pressing L2 or R2 instead of X as you swing. However, when you're putting spin on the ball, you must remember that the buttons are pressure sensitive, so you'll need to take it easy unless you want to spin the ball into the gutter.

Our time with the game was admittedly short, but from our brief experience, as well as from watching others play, the controls take a while to get used to. The developer is aware of this and said that the team is still hard at work testing and tweaking the controls as well as the tutorial. The game looks to be entertaining if you've got friends to play with, but it's also a bit of a letdown that there's no online play, since bowling is a game that lends itself to competition and is best played with or against another human. Of course, the game is still a way off, so many things could change between now and its release. High Velocity Bowling will be available at the end of June as a downloadable-only game in the Sony online store and will retail for $9.99.

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