Days out with the family can sometimes be seen as mundane or even an activity of a past decade. Here Arc Systems want to prove that it’s still as entertaining as ever. Bringing another entry into their well received family sports games comes the striking Family Bowling 3D. Here Billy, Sarah, Mammy, and Daddy compete on various bowling alleys to prove who rules the household. Will Daddy’s power take him to victory? Or will Sarah’s placement make her the winner. What you really want to know is does Family Bowling 3D have what it take to make bowling big or is it just another gutter ball?
Immediately you’ll be struck by the anime style that is shown throughout. The charm of this style really brings out the personalities of each character giving them their own unique feel. Whether getting a spare, strike or gutter ball the characters portray their emotion in true exaggerated anime style and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
To say the name of the game is Family Bowling 3D there is little to none that is apparent. I played the full game with the feature turned on and never noticed it once. That along with the control stick not working on the main menu was a strange omission leaving you to use the d-pad. Again staying in the realms of the strange we have a gameplay issue. One thing that kept happening to me is I would bowl as normal and clearly hit a pin from the side, yet it would slide across the alley and remain stood. Physically this isn’t possible so you may end up being frustrated a good few times with this.
Lining up in front of the bowling alley you either use the D-pad or control stick to adjust for the angle you wish to bowl. Then using a meter bar you must time this to perfection to gain the most power. Lastly you can tilt the control stick to left or right to give the ball a bit of swerve. These combinations are necessary to navigate obstacles that are sometime laid out on the alley. For instance in Paradise Beach you have plastic bottles that you need to navigate past. These obstacles pose the only difficulty among the five environments.
Main mode compromises of an embarrassing three missions where you face off against a family member to better their score. You will have no trouble breezing through this in less than an hour so don’t expect a deep single player experience. The majority of play will come from free play which enables the whole family to take part by passing the screen round in turn. Challenge mode poses more of a threat and boosts the game life up to three hours. The disappointing aspect here are having no unlockables for completing these modes. Imagine if you could unlock another family member like Uncle or even Grandaddy; Missed opportunity.
Filling up your special meter in the top-left of the screen prompts the player to use the special strike. Doing this enables the character to jump into a crazy-colorful montage that looks like something straight out of Dragon-Ball Z, ensuring all pins are obliterated. Initially I thought the meter was filled by the more pins I knock over however I then noticed it still rose when I missed all pins, so the reason the meter rises is very unclear. With this in mind use your “Special Strikes” sparingly.
Music wise can be very hit or miss with songs on Family Bowling and Paradise Beach becoming nauseating. Sounding like a sped up version of a jingle you would hear in a lift or possibly rejected Disney tune – these are certainly the worst. On the other end of the spectrum you have Slippery Skate Rink, Trundling Train and Fairy Tale Cottage that actually fit the occasion well. These tunes are all hummable and memorable making them definite hits.
Family Bowling 3D didn’t immediately bowl me over yet the charm of it’s four main characters, memorable music (that is more often than not fitting) and it’s steep challenge mode made it irresistible. Longevity definitely plays a part in its hindrances making it not so much a game you play all year round but still creates a fun-filled day for all the family.
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