Ultimate Bowling Fighter, while offering nothing special, gets the job done as your standard bowling game.
The most important gameplay element in any bowling game is play control. Without an easy to use but detailed control scheme, the game is doomed to fail. To satisfy this need, the developers introduced two modes of control: D-pad or stylus. The D-pad provides a more accurate experience while the stylus tends to be a bit too random. When selecting D-pad controls, the player must first line up his bowler. Next, a moving horizontal meter must be clicked to display the spin with which the ball will be thrown. Selecting the ball?s power is the last part of the process.
For the most part, this D-pad scheme works. However, producing creative spins and angles with your roll is impossible because the player can only roll the ball directly forward and have it spin from there. For instance, you can?t line up on the far right, angle your ball towards the second pin on the right, and have a slight hook to the ball. You can only line up on the right and roll the ball straight on the edge of the gutter and have it hook back. In contrast, the stylus control combines everything into one swoop. But when using the stylus, the ball tends to spins too much or not enough. Even after playing many games, I still wasn?t able to fully grasp the stylus control by retaining consistency. The stylus control is more fun, but the D-pad will provide a higher score.
Besides from the somewhat spotty control, the pin physics are a little off. They actually fall and move in a realistic way; they just don?t collide with each other. More often than not, pins will pass right through each other, making strikes a rarity. Hitting the pocket means nothing because the third, fourth, and fifth pins will pass right through the ones in the last row.
The game has three modes of play: Solo, Multiplayer, and Tournament. Solo is just a single game. Multiplayer allows many people to compete with a hot-seat, pass the system style. Tournament mode pits the player against multiple computer A.I. controlled matches. If the player manages to win, new players and locations will be unlocked. The computer A.I. is a little random, though. For example, many times the computer character threw a gutter ball as their first roll, but picked up all ten pins on the second roll. In the end, since it is difficult to get strikes, the final match will most likely be lost. Without an in game save function, this becomes incredibly frustrating. It will take at least 15-20 minutes to reach the final match, only to lose.
The game lacks significant options as well. There is no option to set computer controlled A.I. difficulty and the lack of a trick shot/practice mode leaves a little bit of emptiness. These options should be standard in any bowling game. Luckily, the game does keep track of the game?s highest scores.
On the plus side, everything has been well created graphically. Characters are detailed and are filled with animation. The characters? animation reactions are probably the best part of this game. Also, the game even features an in game battery meter that displays how much battery power your Palm still has. This eliminates the need to back out of the program to make sure you don?t kill your entire battery playing games. The sound also realistically recreates the noise of a bowling alley fairly well. The title of the game contains the word ?Fighter,? but there is no fighting whatsoever. There is however, an overhead map that looks exactly like the map from Street Fighter 2: The World Warrior and your character will hop a flight to each new country to do bowling battle with another character in the Tournament mode.
Ultimate Bowling Fighter is a game you are going to want to love, but it doesn?t fully hit the mark. Super Monkey Ball Jr.?s Monkey Bowling still reigns supreme as best handle bowling game, but Ultimate Bowling Fighter is still much better than other handheld bowling games like the GBA?s Ten Pin Alley 2. It?s not a bad quick PDA play, but I think this game can act as a stepping-stone to a more detailed sequel.