Tuesday 13 December 2016

League Bowling (Neo Geo CD review)

Developer: SNK Corporation
Publisher: SNK Corporation
Released: 1994

League Bowling is a sports game that was first released on the Neo Geo MVS in 1990.

There's three modes with the first being Score Game. This is a traditional version of bowling where you knock down pins across ten frames in an attempt to gain the maximum score of 300. Throwing the ball is easy as only the A button is used to stop and start the Power and Spin metres. What's nice is that even after your selection you can still move your bowler left or right as he's winding up for a better shot. The action is basic, but solid, with great controls, and unlike many other bowling games I couldn't find a way to consistently bowl a strike. The shutters do come down very quickly after you've bowled though, meaning there's no tension to see if one of the downed pins will slowly move and hit another pin. This mode isn't exactly deep but it's fun and plays as you would expect. Flash mode is inspired and offers a nice twist; here, a board flashes with numbers ranging from 50 and 300, and if you manage to bowl a strike or spare you receive the score listed at the moment the pins were contacted. This forces you to not only stop the Power and Spin metres at the right time, but also to launch the ball so it reaches the pins on the highest digits. Huge scores can be racked up and the fact that it relies even further on skill makes this highly addictive. Strike "90" mode is similar to Score Game, except you earn 90 points for a strike and 60 points for a spare. While it plays well, it's devoid of personality and feels tacked-on. The game has a fun atmosphere throughout due to the playful crowd animations, realistic SFX and excellent sprite scaling as the ball moves down the lane. Across each mode you can't play against the CPU but the multiplayer option shines as both lanes are used simultaneously!
League Bowling is a perfectly serviceable sports game that provides lots of enjoyment in short bursts. It's especially appealing if you have a friend to play with, but unfortunately it's very light on content and the lack of a knock-out tournament means it doesn't do a great deal to excite in the long run.

Random trivia: In the Arcades there was an option to link four Neo Geo MVS cabinets together for eight-player action!

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