Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad Air
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Bowling Central sure is bowling alright. If you’ve ever enjoyed struggling to find bowling shoes that fit just right or worried about shattering your television during an energetic round of Wii Bowling with your grandparents, you’ll probably get something out of this unsurprising but perfectly fine virtual trip to the alley.
Right off the bat Bowling Central captures the specific kind of atmosphere that really gives the title sport its unique flavor. Players aren’t in some nice, clean, sterile bowling simulation. They’re in an inviting yet vaguely sleazy dive bar environment where bowling really happens. Menu elements made of neon signs lazily flicker in dim, chill rooms filled with bright lanes. It feels like at any moment a chubby dad is going to walk over and hand you a beer and that’s swell. It’s more charm than the game called for.
The unexpected polish also carries over into the gameplay. Bowling on a touch screen or with motion controls via Apple TV is naturally going to strip away some of the nuance that makes the sport what it is, but the different control options do an admirable job of translating speed, spin, and general finesse as players flick or gesture their balls towards the pins. The smooth 3D visuals and slightly forgiving difficulty curve also help.
Players can quickly launch a 3, 6, or 10 frame match, but the meat of the game comes from the bite-sized bowling challenges. Here players are tasked with earning high enough scores while dealing with various obstacles like boxes in the middle of the lane or blockers that move up and down. None fundamentally change the game that much, but it’s a neat diversion to put your bowling skills to the test, which actually sums up the game as a whole.
Unless you’re looking for a thorough review of the sport of bowling itself, there’s really not much else to say about Bowling Central's totally adequate facsimile. Out of all the awful puns we could go with, let’s just say this one picks up the spare.