It didn't take long before I realized that I actually needed to practice my technique before I was going to start winning some of these tournaments. It's in the practice mode when you start to understand the game's major shortcomings, Brunswick Pro Bowling just doesn't control very well. That's not to say that with a lot of practice you can't be punishing each and every one of the computer opponents, but the game has some quirks that keep it from living up to its potential.
The first problem is that your character moves extremely slow and the motion you make never seems to sync up with what the character on screen is doing. For the first few games this actually threw me off, I wasn't sure if I was supposed to bring my wind up back as slow as the character on screen or just ignore him altogether. I chose to ignore him and that seemed to improve my game, even if it is a bit jarring to see your character still animating after you've completed your throw.
Another problem I had was that the motion sensing is nowhere near as forgiving as it was in Wii Bowling. I suppose that actually makes a lot of sense; this is a simulator that is trying to make things as realistic as possible. But let me tell you, the control is a little difficult to get used to at first. I'm not afraid to admit that I was lucky to knock down one pin the first few times I played the game. But with some luck you will learn how to throw in a straight line and get the occasional strike or spare.
But even when you've gotten used to the way the game controls you still have to deal with a few of its other quirks. For one thing, it's nearly impossible to hook the ball without going out of your way. Eventually you may get the timing just right for this and other complex bowling moves, but all this comes after frame after frame of frustration. If you can get past the steep learning curve then you'll find that the game actually has a lot of depth, but I wonder how many gamers will simply throw up their hands (along with the Wii remote) in disgust long before they get the timing just right.
The nice thing about Brunswick Pro Bowling is that you aren't stuck playing the same boring lane in every round, as you progress through the game you will actually discover a bunch of new venues that are, for the most part, actually pretty interesting looking. You may start at some boring mom and pop bowling alley, but soon enough you'll be hitting the lanes in Texas, Japan, Hawaii, Nevada, Ireland, France, Greece and other exotic locations. Even though you're still looking at a bowling lane frame after frame, each of the different venues has a different atmosphere. It's also worth mentioning that the different lanes have different oil patterns (which you can check by holding the "2" button). These oil patterns change up how each of the lanes feel, so it's important to pay attention so that you know where to throw the ball and in what direction.
Perhaps it's because the graphics in Wii Sports are so plain and sparse, but the graphics in Brunswick Pro Bowling are actually pretty good. The character models look decent enough and the lanes are all nicely detailed (with realistic reflections and other effects). Brunswick Pro Bowling won't impress you like Metroid Prime 3 or Super Mario Galaxy, but the visuals won't turn you away from this sports game. Overall the game's presentation is very good; I just wish they could have worked out some of the quirks associated with the control.
Brunswick Pro Bowling had the potential to be one of the best bowling games of all time; it has a deep single-player career mode, good graphics and enough locations to keep you from getting bored. Unfortunately this game is marred by the poor control and unforgiving difficulty level. Hopefully Crave can iron out these problems and deliver a better bowling game a year or two down the road, but for now it's hard to view this as anything but a missed opportunity. If you try hard enough you can still have a lot of fun with this game, just don't go in expecting it to have the same pick up and play quality that made Wii Bowling such a hit.
A year after Wii Sports hits it big Crave Entertainment is here to bring you a deep bowling simulator. While the game looks good and has enough single-player content to keep you going for several weeks, the game's poor controls and unforgiving difficulty pulls the whole package down. Brunswick Pro Bowling is a good attempt, but Crave is going to need to fix some of the problems before I can recommend this game.
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