Sep 29, 2010

Magic Bowling

Last week I tried Doodle Bowling out on my Android and it didn't do much for me. It wasn't bad, but as I've stated countless times before... it's hard to do justice to a 'sport' in video game format. The Wii was able to pull it off for bowling with it's new fangled controller and outstanding physics, but with a touch screen... I don't know. So I decided to give Magic Bowling a chance today.

I suspect that the goal of Magic Bowling is to try and do something above and beyond a basic bowling game. I only think this instead of knowing it because there are no instructions with this game. The main screen features a 'New Game' button, 'Free Play' mode, the standard 'Options' button, and a 'Hi Score' button. The latter three are pretty clear as to what they do. 'Free Play' lets you bowl a game against one of the in game opponents that you have unlocked. 'Options' allows you to make minor adjustments to sound, controls ...etc. And 'Hi Score' lets you view high scores. 'New Game', however, starts a story mode in which you head down to the local bowling alley, run into some girl, and are then challenged to a game. If you lose you have to lick her shoes. The game does not actually make you do that so it's an empty threat. If you win then she gives you what you need to master Magic Bowling. It turns out this is a map to an island and so on...

The game's graphics are decent and the sound works. It has a cycling audio track that sounds like it came from a real bowling alley. The graphics aren't without fault, though. There are times when my pin appears visually stuck in the floor or the ball never visually makes contact with a pin, yet said pin goes flying. The physics aren't very good either. They way the pins knock into one another based on the angles in which they are hit just feels a bit off. I could live with this if the controls worked consistently, but they don't. When bowling you can drag the ball to adjust the start position of your bowler and then you are supposed to swipe down the alley. I can tell you right now that swiping straight up doesn't mean you are throwing the ball in a straight line unless you happen to be in the very center of the alley. Again, I have to make guesses as to how it's all supposed to work. The game advertises that it supports spin on the ball. Indeed it does, but this is nullified by other issues. I can't tell you how many times I've touched the ball and done a quick, seemingly accurate swipe and nothing happens. Nada! The controls in this game are poor on many fronts and given that that's 99% of bowling that's a bad sign.

The game gets cute after you move onto the second bowling alley. There's a little directional indicator at the top of the screen along with a strength indicator. I presume, given that the alley is now outdoors and on an island, that this is supposed to be wind strength. Given the weight of a bowling ball and how much effect it has on the ball I'd have to say it's a typhoon. Once wind strength gets over 1 (which is most of the time) it doesn't seem to matter what I do... gutter ball. Fortunately, the AI is SO strong that it bowls an equally poor game in all of the wind. Final Score: 21-18, which is laughable for bowling.
Obviously I can't and don't recommend this game. What's sad is that this isn't an amateur hour title. Many aspects are professionally done, but the controls ruin the game. And if it wasn't for the controls then the physics would probably have hampered the game. If you want bowling on your Android then I'd recommend getting the free Doodle Bowling. It played quite well for a bowling game. As for Magic Bowling, I can only give it 2.5/5 stars for a game that isn't a strike or even a spare. There is a free demo version available in the Market if you'd like to give it a whirl yourself.

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