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MegaBowling for Palm OS Review

by: Kris Keilhack
April 17th, 2006

MegaBowling offers several unique takes on the classic tenpin bowling game. While I've never spent any time playing a bowling title on PC or a game console, a Palm's stylus-based interaction makes it a perfect fit for the "realistic" physics engine offered by Megasoft 2000 in this engaging little title.

Megabowling for Palm OS ReviewGameplay/ Game Modes
MegaBowling offers four game play choices in all modes: Single player, multi-player on the same Palm, multiplayer via IR and multiplayer via BT. Unfortunately, a lack of willing participants and hardware kept me from reviewing the multiplayer modes for this review. Three game styles are also offered; Stroke, Arcade, and Swing. Thankfully, the head-spinning (in my opinion) arcade scoring system of bowling is handled by the CPU, leaving the player to focus on the gameplay itself.

Stroke and Arcade are presented in the same first-person perspective. Stroke mode's main strategic element is comprised by its a tap-and-hold style of ball tossing. The ball's movement path, rotational speed, and toss strength are all determined by the player drawing the intended trajectory and holding down the stylus tap. I found this gameplay mode the most challenging but also requiring the most time to bowl a full round. I averaged scores roughly from the 130s to the upper 100s in this mode.

Arcade mode basically takes Stroke mode and removes the "drawing" physics control. Only stylus L-R placement and hold time affect the accuracy of the ball. I found my scores in this mode comparable or a bit higher than Stroke mode. Games in Arcade mode are also a bit faster, making it a better choice for a quick round when you just have a few minutes to kill.

Swing view takes a different approach from Stroke & Arcade modes by changing to an overhead, top-down view of the lane. Much like how many modern basketball titles simulate free throw shooting, the ball icon constantly sweeps from left to right. The player must tap the large "Go" button at precisely the right moment in order to line up the throw. Additional control over the ball's motion is possible by angling the stylus left or right prior to releasing the "Go" button. Additionally, the ball's sweep speed can be adjusted by a gauge in the lower left hand corner of the screen. In all gameplay modes, gutter balls never occurred unless intentionally attempted- a welcome for this reviewer compared to real life bowling results!

The only major complaint I have with the game's physics engine is the lack of "flying" pins (bowling aficionados, forgive me for any misuse of proper terminology). When bowling in real life you occasionally have the wobbling, reeling pin that takes a while to fall (or not). Other times a struck pin will fly to the other side and take down a rear pin on the opposite side. I never encountered any of this behavior in MegaBowling. Pins that were struck by the ball were the only ones that fell and everything was either immediately up or down. Some wobble animations and secondary pin knockdowns would have made for a much more realistic experience but also would increase the size & complexity of the game. It's still something I'd like to see added in a future revision.

Graphics & Sound
MegaBowling v4.0 supports all 16-bit Palm screen resolutions, from 160 x 160 to 320 x 480. The graphics are very vibrant and colorful. I particular enjoyed the design of the retro-themed bowling alley in the Stroke & Arcade gameplay modes. The wooden floor and the gutters even show nice attention to detail. Switching to Swing mode entails a loss of the nice lane & ball graphics but MegaSoft still offers up a nice static graphic on the left side of the screen to keep things from looking TOO bland. The animation of the ball and the pins is also fine, though the pin collapsing animation does look a little "stiff". Sound effects are sparse but functional. I though the audience clapping noise when scoring a strike was a nice touch -- it reminds me of the "oohs" "aahs" and polite clapping of Klax, an old arcade favorite. The only major suggestion I'd make in the audio-visual department would be if Megasoft could perhaps add a couple of nice unobtrusive songs playing in the background during the game would make for welcome accompaniment.

Controls/Misc
Megabowling for Palm OS ReviewI reviewed the game on a Palm TX, running off of an SD card. I encountered no hiccups whatever in game launching or during play. The version I reviewed is the newest currently available, 4.0.1. All gameplay is stylus-based. The high resolution full version PRC file is ~611k.

Conclusion
Megasoft2000's MegaBowling is a nifty little single player game that offers up the basics of a classic amusement. Casual and serious bowling fans alike should definitely try the full-featured demo version of MegaBowling as it provides twelve full games before requiring registration. The variety of gameplay modes and multiplayer options extends this title's longevity and replayability. Despite a few missing elements of gameplay realism as mentioned above, the game is nearly flawless in its execution and presentation.

Rating: 4 outa 5 4 / 5 Stars
Price: $14.95 USD

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 (3 comments)

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Terminology Update...

nitf @ 4/22/2006 2:09:28 PM # Q
<< the lack of "flying" pins >>

They are called "messengers."

RE: Terminology Update...
hkklife @ 4/22/2006 8:33:24 PM # Q
Thanks for the tip!

As I stated in the review, I am not a bowling afficionado or expert by any means. I'll kepe that term in mind next I am bowling in "real life".

Pilot 1000-->Pilot 5000-->PalmPilot Pro-->IIIe-->Vx-->m505-->T|T-->T|T2-->T|C-->T|T3-->T|T5-->TX

RE: Terminology Update...
nitf @ 4/22/2006 9:24:23 PM # Q
My comment was only meant as a tip in the friendliest manner that my typing allows...lol I did read your disclaimer and figured I would just let you know what it is called in case you were curious.
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