Neo Geo Station - League Bowling

League Bowling is almost as good as videogame bowling can get.

By Daavpuke, Posted 09 Feb 2011

Casual bowling’s finest moments often stem from the people that you’re with. Sure the game can be well played, but ultimately the surrounding atmosphere dictates whether or not players had a good time. League Bowling, a title originally released for SNK’s Neo Geo in 1991, successfully incorporates this mentality into its incredibly well designed gameplay mechanics en route to presenting itself as an easily accessible and enjoyable game that, despite a weak single-player experience, is almost as good as videogame bowling can get.

You can just tell that this won’t be your run of the mill sports game.

The gameplay is fun and is extremely simple as League Bowling utilizes two gauges that players must stop with the single press of a button to get their desired spin and speed on the ball. However, it’s not all strikes from there as players have to move their bowler left and right to find their sweet spot in the lane. This mechanic, though seemingly inconsequential, is of primordial importance as players who do not move will not bowl nearly as well as those who do. Furthermore, this bowler movement can occur at any point before the ball is thrown allowing players to readjust on the fly if they missed the mark on stopping the spin and/or speed gauges. The gameplay, though only somewhat challenging, has absolutely no flaws as not a single case of collision detection or any other issue ever occurs.

This great aforementioned gameplay finds itself in the Regulation, Strike 90 and Flash game modes. Regulation is standard ten frame ten pin bowling while Strike 90 modifies the scoring so that any strike is worth 90 points on its own. The third game mode, Flash bowling, presents a range of possible scores on a 5x2 grid above the pins. A different set of top and bottom values in this grid are highlighted every second. When the final pin in a frame is knocked down players receive whatever score is highlighted on top if it was a strike or the score on the bottom if it was a spare. If players do not clear all the pins in this mode or do not get a strike in Strike 90 then scoring is done as per normal regulation rules. Although these latter two modes appear to just be frivolous scoring changes, they actually present a fresh and much needed challenge to bowlers. Strike 90, a quite intense game mode, puts an even higher premium on strikes meaning that the game can be turned around in an instant through a single strike. The Flash game mode, the most challenging way to play League Bowling, incorporates a need for good timing along with playing well.

Neo Geo Station - League Bowling Review

Unfortunately players never compete against computers and thus are only ever bowling against their own high score which loses substantial appeal after a few games in each gameplay style. A league or even a versus mode where players can play against a computer controlled bowler are two sorely missed features in League Bowling. Still the multiplayer, which supports up to four players locally and over the PlayStation Network, holds a substantial amount of enjoyment to be had. Both multiplayer routes play smoothly, and are extremely enjoyable to engage in as they present the same well-done mechanics with a slight modification of the flow of the game. Essentially two players will battle by bowling at the same time which just adds to the exciting and quirky atmosphere already prevalent in the game. Sadly the online community is dead meaning that you’ll need to go through the tough task of finding someone to play against, but once found the multiplayer experience is well worth the effort.

However gamers decide to play they are able to choose their ball colour and dominant hand before each match. Sadly, there is a lost opportunity for creativity present here as each player is assigned the same spiky blue haired character sporting different coloured pants, and stripes on a plain white muscle shirt. Further lack of depth is present as the only bowling lane available is SNK Lane which touts itself as the “King of Lanes,” but really isn’t anything special. While this is not a huge issue, another lane or two would’ve been a more than welcome addition to the game.

Neo Geo Station - League Bowling Review

League Bowling is nonetheless enjoyable to play, and features the fabulous presentation that often comes standard with Neo Geo titles.  The music is lively and suits the action quite well while the sound effects of the ball, pins and quips from bowler(s) are spot on. The animations of the muscular bowler and eccentric crowd look great as does the scoreboard that is displayed right above the bowling lane. After the ball is thrown your bowler’s face appears on this scoreboard with an exaggerated expression of worry that is then replaced, depending on the outcome of your shot, by an equally exaggerated look of happiness, shock or frustration. Further quirky animations that substantially add to the game’s amazing atmosphere appear for strikes, spares and gutter balls. The latter is easily the most enjoyable as your bowler will be victim to any one of the dozen punishments for a gutter ball including, but not limited to being flattened by a truck or blown up by a grenade.

In short, League Bowling replicates the excitement of a true bowling atmosphere in a quirky way, and subsequently stands as a fantastic multiplayer game with great gameplay mechanics. However, due to the lack of a versus or league mode against computer opponents, the easily accessible and incredibly fun League Bowling only includes a weak single-player experience. Still, League Bowling stands as a definite pickup for any bowling fan as it is almost as good as videogame bowling can get.

Joshua McCaul, NoobFeed.

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  • It's a big lacking that you can't play against the computer. I'm not sure why this has been ignored. No matter how dumb the AI is, it's always playing fun against it. But I loved the animations and other things. Can be a good game to play when needed a break from shooting.

    Posted Feb 14, 2011

  • @Sleven Definitely. I mean this game's score would've skyrocketed if the single player experience wasn't so incredibly weak. Thanks for reading :)

    Posted Feb 16, 2011


General Information

Platform(s): PS3
Publisher(s): SCEA
Developer(s): SNK Playmore
Genres: Sports
Themes: Arcade
Release Date: 2010-12-21

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