Pro Bowling Preview
We roll a quick set with Mforma's new bowling game.
For a couple of years, Jamdat Bowling and its sequel have maintained a stranglehold on the mobile bowling market. Indeed, these are the games--above all others--that Jamdat has used to build its sterling reputation. With Pro Bowling, Mforma is hoping for a major paradigm shift. The build we played looked nearly complete, save for a few localization issues. Boasting an impressive physics engine and smooth, prerendered visuals, Pro Bowling is worth getting excited about.
Although you can challenge the CPU for a "quick game," or play against a buddy by swapping handsets, Pro Bowling's real draw is its tournament mode, which pits you against the CPU in a competitive ladder. To start, you pick one of several avatars. You may then assign your character a name and dole out points over several statistics, such as power or spin. Perhaps the most important choice you'll make in the character creation process, however, is deciding upon the weight of your balls. Don't giggle--this has a profound effect on the game's physics, as heavier balls are more powerful but tend to hook less readily. When you're ready to begin your ascent to bowling fame, you must qualify in one of three skill levels. This is accomplished by bowling up to par with the competitors at that difficulty. From here, you'll have the chance to enter one of the three elimination ladders, taking on progressively more competent bowlers. Simple enough.
Pro Bowling gives you four meters with which to manage your toss--one more than most bowling games. You can control your shot power, where you stand (to initiate the toss), where you aim, to what degree and in what direction you hook the ball, and how well you release your toss. Each of these controls has a readily discernable effect on the outcome of your throw. When you manage to get the release right, a silly "cool" voice clip will play. This is likely to become Pro Bowling's trademark, much in the way Jamdat Bowling's turkey proved to be its most memorable feature.
Cute features aside, Pro Bowling's physics engine will be what lends it longevity. Providing a realistic bowling experience is paramount to the game's success. At this stage in development, pins seem to wobble and tumble appropriately. Throw mechanics appear pretty spot-on. Even the infamous 7-10 split is possible, albeit extremely difficult, to perform.
Suffice to say, Pro Bowling looked very promising on the LG VX7000 on which we tested it. We'll let you know more in our review of the game next month.
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