Wow. That's all this reviewer has to say. Wow, wow, wow. Patterned after the PC hit from NStorm, when they decided to do this project the nice folks at Cybiko were probably thinking: Everyone likes bowling, right? And everyone likes Christmas, right? And a gazillion people played this on their computer, right? So why not combine them all, throw them in a big pot with more foul-mouthed elves, labor unrest, and curious wildlife, and mix until we achieve cell-phone gaming immortality? And it almost worked, too. EB will almost certainly make you laugh out loud. Just not for more than an hour or so.
So it seems that Santa's mischievous elves have hit the bricks instead of the toy shop this season, striking for labor rights or better pay or some such tripe. However jolly he may be, Annual Gift Man's no softie when it comes to putting the hurt on pinko munchkins; instead of hiring scabs, he's going the whole hog and bowling the little jerks off the picket line. Or so the management-biased backstory of EB would have us believe. This reviewer has never liked Santa and he would probably go Elf Bowling for kicks.
EB's designers possess a deft visual touch, inserting lots of hilarious details into a basically boring old bowling game. Boss Claus wears an embroidered bowling shirt instead of his traditional suit; the beautifully drawn elves periodically moon their belligerent front man to riotous effect; frogs, deer, and moose meander across the alley, providing bonus points if you're quick enough. The sound's also great--you'll only need to hear a single rousing rendition of Elf Elf Baby to understand exactly what sort of game you're playing.
The make-or-break attribute of bowling games is control, and EB unfortunately falls slightly short in that category. The traditional meter-based interface feels slightly off; much of the time, the ball simply doesn't seem to go where it should. On the other hand, the game runs as smooth as silk, with very little lag or load time.
The first twenty minutes playing EB is a blast, but the fun trails off rapidly from there. All the nifty details become old hat after a few rounds, and then EB becomes just another bowling game. Replay value is also lacking: There's a regular and advanced mode available, but regular mode is hardly worth playing as it lacks controls for power or spin and is ludicrously easy.
JAMDAT Bowling it ain't. If you really like bowling games, Christmas, or puerile humor, EB is worth a look. Otherwise, let Santa clean up his own labor mess.