Fast Lanes Bowling

Review

posted 3/5/2004 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: PC
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I fancy myself a pretty decent bowler. In fact, I was so good at one point in my life that I actually went out and picked up a pair of bowling shoes. Yes, they were a shade of off-white and they had salmon colored strips down the side (it’s not pink dammit!) but I wore them like badges of honor. Every couple of weeks or so I’d head down to the bowling alley to strut my stuff, but I was no match for the hordes of overweight professionals that lurked around the lanes. Still I persevered; I’d go out there, bowl my 140 and hang my head in shame as I left the alley. I vowed one day that I would come back and show those morons a thing or two. So about 10 years have passed and I never did quite get back around to schooling those guys but thanks to Enlight I can bowl in the comfort of my own home without having to embarrass myself in front of others. The only problem is that Fast Lanes Bowling is like that runaway bowling ball that has a date with the gutter.

From the start this game has budget title written all over it, not that I have a problem with this. One of my favorite games of the DOS era was Fuzzy’s Miniature Golf which was a very simplistic and generic golf game. Fast Lanes Bowling heads down this path by offering a few unique modes, some straightforward gameplay and a host of generic and out of this world bowlers. However, this isn’t 1997 and games have progressed quite a ways in case you haven’t noticed. There are no pros here, no real venues and nothing that really shows me that the designers put their heart and soul into the game. Hell, it’s like the designers haven’t even discovered instruction manuals or jewel cases yet as the only thing you get in this package is a paper sleeve with the screen printed CD.

After you get past the installation you can finally hit the lanes. There are six modes available for you but they’re all pretty much the same. Open bowl allows you to play a usual 10-frame set with any of the bowlers, tournament allows you to compete against others, and golf mode is a pretty interesting variant where the game is scored like a round of golf. Of all of the modes I’d say that golf is the most interesting as it’s the only one that really brings anything new to the table. To be honest that six is really more like a four since you can essentially do the same thing in half of the gameplay modes. There is a nice variety of lanes for you to bowl on which are based on different themes and locales. In addition to the traditional bowling alley you have a tropical island pier, a futuristic space station setting, a medieval setting and a couple more. What’s nice about these lanes is that they all have balls and pints that fit with the theme. So the island level features a coconut as the bowling ball and some island-themed pins.

Player creation is pretty barebones; select a model, adjust some of the settings, deal with the archaic menu system and you’re on your way. It would have been nice had I been able to actually generate a model or change some settings like the hair color or enormous breast size. Before you approach the ball you can line up your shot with a two-part system. First you position your bowler on the arrows and then you press the backspace button to zoom up on the lanes to dictate your aim. It’s a pretty nice system that works pretty well except for the fact that the bowler tends to get into the way when you’re in the positioning process. Also after you bowl the game has this annoying habit of moving your aim cursor for no apparent reason. So let’s say I just bowled a strike and I want to keep the same settings for my next shot. Forget about it because the game will mysteriously move your cursor to one side or another which forces you to reposition on every single shot.
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