Bowling. A sport that people love to play, as it is still one of the biggest recreational sports out in the world today. When people think about this game, they want to have a good time, cheering after every strike or spare they get, or just playing with their friends, having a few drinks in-between, as well as a few laughs.
In terms of video games, bowling is still everywhere, as many bowling games have been made throughout the last few decades. Unfortunately, I feel as if many bowling games don’t give you a true sense of actually feeling like you are on the lanes in person, as many bowling games tend to lack real physics when it comes to comparing a game to real bowling. So, here are the top 10 Bowling games of all time, comprised by yours truly. Also note, some of these games may not be bowling games entirely, as there may be other games included in the ones on the list here.
1. Brunswick Pro Bowling (PS3)
This game takes bowling to the next level, as you use the PlayStation move controller to actually bowl. It’s pretty unique since you can control the way the ball moves much more accurately compared to just using a controller. Unfortunately, this is as high as it will make it on the list in my opinion since the pin physics are pretty poor if you ask me.
2. PBA Bowling 2001 (PC)
This still remains one of favorite bowling PC games for all, but I feel like they could’ve added SO MUCH MORE to it. The graphics are pretty bad if you ask me, I feel as if I’m bowling on a product that was never fully finished. I do think the pin physics are REALLY good though, since you need to be very accurate and know where to throw the ball, especially since the oil conditions on the lane break down after a while. Music is pretty good, and I like the fact that your score shows up on an actual scoreboard above your head, just as if you were in a real bowling alley. I also like the fact that after you bowl, it shows your ball speed, high score, low score, etc.
There’s not many game modes in this and I think the tournament mode is a joke. The best part of this game is being able to play with other people, or even playing against a computer player in a regular match, since that makes it feel really competitive.
Overall, this game is great but I think it could’ve been designed much better.
3. Silver Strike Bowling (Arcade)
This game is strongly related to how Golden Tee Golf works. Basically, you use a trackball on the arcade game to control the way your ball spins. Pin physics are REALLY good, though I think they could’ve been a bit better, as it feels like you need to hit the pocket perfectly in order to get a strike. Learning curve is a factor on this too, as I have played this game many times and I would say that I can barely get the ball to aim right where I want it to be. It does feel like it’s much more of a realistic game though, as PBA champion Randy Pedersen is an announcer in this game, and guides you through it as well. Not to mention you can view some pretty good camera angle replays of almost every shot you take.
4. The Simpsons Bowling (Arcade)
The Simpsons bowling game is pretty old now, as it came out back in 2000. This game works the same way as pretty much every bowling arcade game, as you have to use a trackball to determine where you throw and how fast you throw it. The Simpsons have some pretty humorous dialogue in this game, though it tends to get a bit repetitive. Graphics aren’t the best, but hey, that was 2000 so for the time, it’s not bad. Pin Physics are pretty good, though it seems ridiculously easy to get strikes in this game. However, I think that’s the fun part about it, cause when you throw a ball down and expect a strike, something unusual tends to happen from time to time. Also, after you get 3 strikes in a row, you get a specialty bowling ball, which could be either a radiation bowling ball that melts the pins when you throw the ball down, a bomb that blows up as many pins as possible when you throw it, a fireball that lights up everything on fire when you throw the ball, and last but not least, MAGGIE. Yes, Maggie is a specialty bowling ball in this game.
5. Wii Sports (Nintendo Wii)
Ah, who can forget about this classic game? If you own a Wii, you own this game, so many, MANY people have played Wii Sports. Wii sports itself is very fun, but I think the most played game on it by far is Bowling. Of course, you use the motion controller to determine where to throw it and how fast you throw the ball down as well. Pin physics are VERY good, but one complaint I have is that if a pin gets hit and wobbles, it will NEVER fall down. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve played the bowling game and have had a pin slide from one spot to another, stopping me from getting a strike. Also, I tend to find it pretty easy to get strikes once you know how to throw the ball properly. Many people tend to throw it straight to the pocket with little curve, and it almost strikes every time. You can curve the ball pretty well, but it has a bit of a learning curve to it. In my opinion though, this is by far one of the best Wii games in terms of bowling, but I think there is one even better than that.
6. Milo’s Astro Lanes (Nintendo 64)
What just blows my mind is that not too many people seem to remember this game on the Nintendo 64. This was by far the BEST bowling game on there, as it not only required accuracy and good timing, but STRATEGY as well. What do I mean by that? Well, in the game, you have to face an opponent, most of which are alien creatures. The thing about this game is that, when you throw your ball down the lanes, the lane itself has certain obstacles you need to avoid to prevent your ball from not even getting down the lane completely.
7. Wii Sports Resort (Nintendo Wii)
As much as I like Wii Sports bowling, I think Wii Sports resort takes it to the next level. Pin Physics are pretty much the same as Wii Sports, though a few tweaks were made so that it gives you more of a real bowling feel to it. What I like more than anything though is the fact that you are able to really take advantage of the Wii Motion Plus controller, especially when it comes to spinning the ball and getting it to curve where you want it to. I can curve the ball at least twice as much compared to Wii Sports, and I think it really makes the game feel more lively. I also like the 100 pin bowling mode, but the Spin control mode is the most fun in my opinion, since you really have to know how much to curve the ball in this mode. Overall, this is the best bowling game on the Wii in my opinion.
8. Brunswick Circuit Pro Bowling 2 (PlayStation)
I can’t tell you how good this game is for the PlayStation. This game is one of the most lively games on the console and makes you feel like you’re on TV against the actual pros. Gameplay is excellent, since you have to have precision timing for both speed and accuracy, as well as knowing where to throw the ball and knowing how much curve to put on it to get a strike. Pin physics are UNBELIEVABLY good, it feels like you’re in a real bowling alley and not in some cheap video game. I also really like the fact that you can view every shot you make on replay from 4 different camera angles, as well as being able to save replays. Not to mention there are LOTS of game modes in this, including cosmic mode, tournament mode, or just practice, but that’s only a few of them. Overall, this is one of the best bowling games by far.
9. Ten Pin alley (PlayStation/Sega Saturn)
It was very hard to pick this over Brunswick Circuit Pro Bowling 2, mainly because they both are insanely good games for their time. I think Ten Pin Alley for the PlayStation and Sega Saturn barely beats it though, since pin physics are VERY good, but what is even better is being able to create many different types of characters compared to Brunswick’s game. Tournament mode is more fun in this game compared to Brunswick, since you can unlock secret character taunts and see how crazy your character will go over a strike or spare. There’s also the option of playing no tap bowling which Brunswick doesn’t have, and it lets you bowl with the rule that 9 pins knocked down counts as a strike. Overall, I think this game is just a tad bit better than Brunswick, but they’re both insanely good.
10. Brunswick Circuit Pro Bowling (PlayStation, PC, Nintendo 64)
You may be asking yourself why I gave this a better review compared to the 2nd game. For one thing, this game came out on more platforms so people had more than 1 option as to how they wanted to play this. But what I think is really good about this game is that the pin physics can’t be beat. They are by far the most accurate I’ve ever seen in a bowling game, and I feel like I’m on an actual lane every time I throw a ball down. When this game came out, they even had a major bowling tournament based off of the game, which occurred in 1998 on ESPN.
This game is probably the only bowling game I’ve ever seen that actually has certain sponsors on the side of the audience, such as Bayer, THQ, and Columbia 300.
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