Review by leeuyang

Reviewed: 08/02/04

A good game with a very ugly face...

Just take note that this review was written August 2004.

Amazingly, Bowling is the America’s most popular participation sport. Jay Leno once said, “Bowling is so popular, because it’s the only sport where you can drink beer and eat pizza at the same time!” He is right, but on the pro tour, people take bowling seriously. Bowling is much like golf in terms of how the conditions need to be. Pros require a quiet atmosphere, good concentration, and good form in order to perform well, and Circuit Pro Bowling does a very good job of capturing that essence.

Gameplay and Control

There are several options to choose from right off the bat. You can bowl an exhibition match, which is basically like bowling a regular game. You can cosmic bowl, which is like bowling a regular game, but you will be bowling under the fluorescent lights that gives bowling nighttime feel. You can bowl a skins match, which is a money game based on how many strikes you get. You can practice, which allows you to leave any amount or selection of pins up on the lane so you can practice your spares or splits. You can also start a tournament, which requires you to start a career. To start a career, you simply either create a player, or use one of the PBA pro’s on file. Using your own Create-A-Player will probably be easier, since all the PBA pros are not configurable. The career you choose can be used anywhere in the game, but you will mostly be using your character in the tournament mode.

There are several tournaments in a year, and you can bowl in them to earn money. The tournament mode is the main bulk of the game, but it doesn’t really offer too much besides non-stop bowling and match play games. If you win money, you can’t really buy anything in the way of extras, cheats, or even new bowling balls, which is a big downer. The tournaments are mainly there to try to keep you playing for a long time, but they don’t really succeed in doing that. They get more boring after each shot, and by the time you finish your first tournament, you will want to throw the cartridge into a blender, just to see what might happen. That is how bored you will get. But luckily the skins game can offer some good fun if you have a few friends to play with.

Controls are easy enough to learn. When you bowl there will be a white line, and a power and accuracy meter. The white line will go across the power meter and you press A when you want a certain amount of power. Then the line will go across the accuracy meter, and you press A at a certain point to get the right accuracy on the ball. The controls are perfect, which helps make the game much better to play.
8.0

Graphics

Oh! The horror! I don’t know where to begin. I guess I’ll start with the good stuff. The forms and styles of the bowlers are very fluid and they look like real bowling styles, and its obvious that the Pro’s have their own special styles. The ball going down the lane looks good, and so does the pin action when your ball hit’s the pins. Even the reflection of the machine covers on the lane looks good. There are some real good things about this game’s graphics, but there is one really big problem. Each bowler has a face, well sort of. I mean, it doesn’t look like a face. Each bowler has a disgusting looking monster head for a face. The game would have been better off if there wasn’t a face on each bowler, or if they just had a tan block for a face. I have nothing against ugly people, but I’m sorry, these bowlers look horrendous!
8.0

Audio

The music in the game is pretty good, and it sets the pace of bowling very well, but there isn’t much variety. It seems like there is four or five different tunes that play over and over again. The sounds of the bowling alley are very good. From the time you release your ball to the time it hit’s the pins, the sounds are amazing. The first one you hear is the “thud” of the ball hitting the lane. Then you hear the rolling sound, which is very good and sounds like a real bowling ball going down a real lane. And finally you hear the ball hitting the pins, which sounds perfect. Those are all you really need in a bowling game, and they are all done perfectly. The people in the crowd also clap and cheer sometimes, but that really isn’t as special as the actual bowling sounds. The sounds and music are very immersive and definitely make an attempt to keep you interested in the game.
9.0

Replay Value

If you really enjoy bowling, like I do, the game can last you a very long time. The tournaments can last you literally hundreds of hours, but if you don’t like continuous bowling, then you will probably end up playing the game for the skins game. Get a few friends and play for money, which is actually very fun. The game makes a decent attempt at trying to get you to play the game for a long period of time, but ultimately it fails.
6.5

Here’s my final recommendation: If you like bowling, try it out. It is definitely worth some of your time; however, if you don’t enjoy bowling and/or you have newer sports games, then go play those. This game will probably not enlighten your life too much. Circuit Pro Bowling isn’t a bad game, but it isn’t a great game either. The sport of bowling deserves more recognition than it gets now, and Circuit Pro Bowling did that by helping the gaming world understand what real professional bowling is like.

Final Score: 7.9

Rating: 8

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