League Bowling

AMG AllGame Guide:

League Bowling

  • Release Date: 1991
  • Genre: Sports
  • Style: Bowling
  • Similar Games: Bowling Alley (Arcade)

Game Description

League Bowling is SNK's attempt at making a bowling game for the Neo Geo. Unlike other SNK sports attempts on the console, the basic gameplay of the sport hasn't been altered in favor of more arcade gameplay.

The game is played with 2D graphics, although the behind and above the player viewpoint gives the bowling lane a pseudo 3D look. The screen is divided into two halves down the middle, with a bowling lane on each side. Up to two players can bowl simultaneously on the two lanes, or up to four players can bowl by switching off controls.

When the game begins players are given a choice of three game types: regular, strike 90, and flash. All three games play the same way; the only difference is in the scoring system. After the game type choice players then choose the weight of their bowling ball from between eight and fifteen pounders. Then players choose whether their bowler is right or left handed. After that the bowling action commences.

Bowlers must roll their bowling ball down the lane in an attempt to strike down ten pins arranged in a triangular fasion. Each bowling game has ten frames in which players must strike down the pins. Each frame gives players two chances to knock the pins down. If the bowler can knock all ten pins down in two attempts that's a spare. However, if the bowler manages to knock all ten pins down in one shot that's a strike. On either side of the lane are two gutters; if the ball rolls into the gutter it's a guaranteed miss. Players of League Bowling first choose their release angle for the ball, then the power with which the ball is released. During the course of the ball roll moving the joystick can make very minute course changes.
~ Kyle Knight, All Game Guide

Roots & Influences

League Bowling is one of a series of sports games that SNK brought to the Neo Geo.
~ Kyle Knight, All Game Guide

Review: Overall

League Bowling is a surprisingly fun game. While the rules are still bowling rules, the game feels very much like a fast paced arcade game. Unfortunately bowling games are short already, and speeding them up makes them even shorter.

The graphics have a bright cartoony look to them, and are drawn with a decent amount of detail. These graphics won't make anyone sit up and take notice, but they do their job well. Whenever you do particularly well or poorly you get to see a funny animation of your bowler in celebration or being unhappy. The animations are cute, but after seeing them once or twice you'll barely notice them.

Game sound is just as average. The music is totally forgettable, and the in game sound clips do their job well, but aren't remarkable otherwise. The game also contains a small amount of slightly robotic sounding speech that doesn't really stand out in particular.

League Bowling's simple gameplay has a charm about it that's almost addictive. Everything in the game can be accomplished by pressing just one button; even the joystick is unnecessary during gameplay. That makes the game a great party entertainment where people are holding drinks in their hand or are otherwise occupied so they can't devote their full attentions. The fact that the game also supports up to four players by switching the controls off between pairs of players helps it as a party game. Because each ball roll plays out so quickly, you'll constantly have the urge to play just one more frame, or one more game.

For an early Neo Geo game League Bowling's difficulty level is surprisingly accommodating. Unlike other games where playing the first level on the easiest setting still results in slaughter, it's very easy for even first time players to get the hang of the game and be throwing strikes or spares consistently on the easiest difficulty setting. The hardest difficulty level, on the other hand, is really difficult. The heading indicator practically flies back and forth, and it takes a very precise sense of timing to keep the ball from flying into the gutters.

The biggest problem with the game is with its lack of replayability or length. Even though you can change your game type, ball weight, and rolling hand, you're still sending a ball rolling down a lane to hit ten pins. After you get used to how the game plays you could finish a ten frame game in just over a minute. After that there's nothing more, you simply go back and do it all over again.

League Bowling is a fun little arcade bowling game that has a lot of charm, but in the end it's questionable whether the game is worth your money because if you play one ten frame game, you've basically seen all there is to see. If you don't mind tweaking the difficulty up and getting your timing precise there is a lot of fun to be had in the game. But gamers looking for variety and long-term replayability won't find it here.
~ Kyle Knight, All Game Guide

Review: Enjoyment

It's actually pretty fun to send balls rolling down the lane
~ Kyle Knight, All Game Guide

Review: Graphics

Bright and cartoony graphics with some interesting animations
~ Kyle Knight, All Game Guide

Review: Sound

It does its job, but isn't remarkable
~ Kyle Knight, All Game Guide

Review: Replay Value

Once you get tired of the basic bowling gameplay, there's nothing else here for you
~ Kyle Knight, All Game Guide

Review: Documentation

In the single player game the other screen is used to remind you of how to play
~ Kyle Knight, All Game Guide

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