One of the first Gamer’s Choice Awards we gave for wireless titles was for the bowling game from competitor JAMDAT. Bowling’s relative simplicity and slow pace worked perfectly for mobile games and it provided enough challenge because you’re not often able to line up those small cell phone keys as perfectly as you can on a console or PC.
Midnight Bowling 3D looks and plays like a typical bowling title with the addition of some fictional in-game characters. Games take place in bowling alleys that are far removed from Uncle Bob’s weekend game with the boys. Each character also features a different profile. Some are better at spinning balls. Others are more powerful bowlers. You can skip straight to a ten frame game but Midnight Bowling 3D also features a challenge game that will set up splits or special pins you must knock over. These will earn you currency in the game to unlock new characters or items.
Bowling in this game is done with the use of sliding meters. There is one sliding meter for power, direction (left or right) and spin. This is the ‘tweaking’ part that will keep gamers coming back in hopes of scoring the perfect game. Gameloft manages to nail this down pretty good. The game is neither too difficult nor too easy.
In terms of graphics, the game features a 3D presentation that is most present during replays. If you get a strike or a spare, you can elect to replay the frame from different camera angles. This is useful for people to boost their own ego but in actuality, if you’re going through a quick game, it’s not that essential. The use of 3D restricts it to specific handsets too, like those supporting Verizon’s VCast service.
Similar to other Midnight titles, Gameloft has licensed a soundtrack to introduce the game. This time it’s from Beyonce. During the game, effects for the bowling ball and pins are accurate. There is applause for good shots and the in-game characters come with a few lines of dialogue. All in all, it’s more than I thought I would get from a bowling game aimed at the casual crowd.
Midnight Bowling 3D throws in Gameloft’s stylized characters and a number of unlocked items and characters that gives this bowling game an extra dimension. Bowling is almost a completely dead genre on consoles and PCs. But on mobile, it is addictive and fun. It’s quite clear that this game is aimed at besting the more orthodox one from JAMDAT but its requirement of a 3D cellular phone might hold it back from reaching a wider audience especially for the casual gamer crowd who might not be upgrading their phones every six months. In the end, it’s a well completed game that those who have the proper handset ought to seriously look at.