For those of you who have ever had the urge to hurl a pumpkin at miniature rockets on a moon base, your game has arrived. Fast Lanes Bowling isn’t a gamers game; it won’t push your system to the limit and deliver incredible eye candy. Instead it’s a simplistic, arcade style bowling game that offers variety in game play and visuals.
Published by Enlight Software and developed by Lab Rats Games, the term “bowling simulator” may throw you off. Yes it does simulate, and you do have to do some bowling research if you want to score a perfect 300, but there’s other things to do that can do instead of just try and throw as many strikes as possible.
The game has many several modes of game play. The Skins mode stands out, where players have one shot for any number of skins and money. If the player makes the strike, then the opponent has to make it; if he or she can’t, then if you can throw another one, you get the skins. The game goes on and on until the end of all of the frames, and whoever has the most skins and money wins. It sounds simple but it is to me the most challenging game mode, especially against a harder opponent.
There is a challenge mode available where pins will be set up in common layouts and splits. You get three chances to knock down all the pins with one ball. If you can’t get them all the pins reset and you have to try again. Once your chances are up its game over and you have to start all the way from the beginning. There is also Golf mode where a player is set up against complex patterns of pins and must knock them all down in the allotted amount of shots.
You are spurred to try all the modes by the six hidden levels. Each of these six levels must be unlocked by meeting a certain requirement in five of the six modes. Unlocking all of the levels will give you a total of twelve, ranging from a rave-style bowling lane to the drawbridge of a medieval castle. Unfortunately, most of the secret levels are just spin-offs of the pre-existing ones. Some are good, like the alien bowling alley, and some are merely night-time versions of the same lane.
The graphics in the game are good, but not great. I don’t think that’s a bad thing though. Not every person who might be interested in a nice little bowling game will have even a GeForce 3. Fast Lanes Bowling will run on virtually any PC with some 3D ability. All of the texturing is great; most of the 3D character models are good. I was most impressed with the lighting and reflections, which were nearly flawless. The only true complaint I can voice against the graphics is that some of the locales you can bowl in are hard on the eyes, especially when you are trying to see the pins from a distance (they do provide you with a close up camera) trying to line up your shot. Even at maximum resolution this was a problem, which is unfortunate because some of those worlds had great atmosphere to them.
The sound is just average, granted there’s not much you can do for bowling, but it wouldn’t have been too much to have put in some good music that you’d expect at a typical bowling alley. Instead, you get elevator music, occasionally themed to the locale that is barely audible unless you crank the volume way up.
The only critical bug I found in the game was in Golf mode, when the CPU player kept on throwing the ball right down the middle of the lane when the pin was on the outside. It did this about seventeen times before I ended the match, but since then, I haven’t been able to repeat it. Another big let-down is all the ball information they give you, like the type of core and weight, doesn’t make much sense , and there is no information in the read me to clear it up.
Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of post-production support for the game. There are no new characters, balls, or lanes to download. There is no multiplayer support either. Even though the characters they give you are nice, there isn’t much variety, you have three females, a robot, a skeleton, and an alien, and two guys.
The bottom line, Fast Lanes Bowling is a pretty decent game, despite some of its shortcomings. If you have the interest in bowling, or maybe you just want a nice game to have at work, the price is right for this one. For a bowling game, they did a good job of giving it flare and appeal. Even I must admit, if hadn’t been for Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes, I may have spent my entire evening on it, but I’m sure I’ll be hitting the lanes again soon.