Ten Pin Alley (PlayStation) review
"Letís just admitóright nowóthat we donít play sports games for the story. While some elements of an intriguing nature could be placed into some of the bigger genres, even Solid Snake couldnít add any plot to a bowling game. While thatís known and accepted, we instead try our hands for the entertainment and the realism of a sports gameóeven if it is bowling. If this is a well known factóthat the more realistic and down to earth a sports game is the betteróthen someone needs to tell ASC the makers..."
Letís just admit--right now--that we donít play sports games for the story. While some elements of an intriguing nature could be placed into some of the bigger genres, even Solid Snake couldnít add any plot to a bowling game. While thatís known and accepted, we instead try our hands for the entertainment and the realism of a sports game--even if it is bowling. If this is a well known fact--that the more realistic and down to earth a sports game is the better--then someone needs to tell ASC the makers of Ten pin alley because they missed the memo.
Letís go over the mechanics first, seeing as they need the least amount of work. Theyíre simple enough and follow along the same trends of Hot Shots Golf. You have one meter for you power and another for your accuracy. The bar goes up, you hit x to stop it in the ďhitĒ area. The bar goes down and again you need to stop it in the hit area to throw the ball properly. Simple right? Yes and it is simple, until you do the same thing youíve done a thousand times before and your ball goes in the gutter. The mechanics arenít the problem here; itís just the consistency. Itís too touchy--one atom of a difference is all it takes to ruin your perfect score. ďWell I donít need a perfect scoreĒ you say? Compete with the AI and try saying that again.
Like I mentioned before consistency is a major problem with this game. Not just with the mechanics of bowling but with the realism itself. There are a few characters that are available for you to compete with but if youíre basing it on stats alone donít bother. The only thing that changes is the look. Not that their stats arenít diverse it just doesnít make a difference. Everybody bowls just well enough to beat you and drive your tolerance into a black hole of oblivion. Maybe Iím not any good at bowling games and Iím not sure what kryptonian planet this game takes place on, but here on earth a little kid who can barely pick up the ball cannot throw a strike every single time. They do in this game though.
The AI is a huge problem, from a casual just between buddies game to the actual tournament. With two choices--rookie and professional--your chances of winning seem pretty good, especially if you sign up for the rookie tournament after youíve learned and mastered the game. Again, donít bother. The pot is a lot smaller on the amateur side and the bowlers are just as good. There is absolutely no difference in difficulty depending on which rank you choose. I got bested in the first round by a little kid who bowled a perfect game. And even if you manage to scrounge to the top and pull of a victory, you canít save it afterwards so all of it was worthless. If you are playing the tournament mode let me give you some advice: Set a pillow on the ground to brace the impact of the controller when you slam it out of frustration.
The game play itself is mediocre. The create-a-bowler is a neat aspect but in my opinion there arenít enough choices. You choose hair, shirt and pant colors from pre-rendered bowlers. You donít have the option of changing their face, their weight or even which hand they bowl with. It gets fairly redundant looking at the same bowlers all the time. The graphics are boxy, cheap and look like a child who had trouble coloring in the lines made them. The bowlerís stances are like cardboard and the movement is robotic. They all seem like a very nervous person auditioning for American Idol. The sound could be worse. There is a soundtrack and you have a multitude of musical styles at your disposal--but still, the playstation is capable of so much more. Bowling alleys are booming with good music. What sick world did ASC find theirs? Voice-overs, more then one song per genre or even applause would actually make the sound decent. The coughing audience during the quiet air of the tournament is funny but irritating. The replay value is phenomenal seeing as you never, ever get anywhere. This games one goal aside from complete irritation: Win at any cost.
If I sold my soul for a decent bowling game and got Ten Pin Alley, I would want a rebate. The inconsistency plummets this game into forgettable status. Itís like a bully or an older sibling who will do anything just to beat you. Itís cheap, irritating and leaves me wanting to write ASC a nasty letter. But alas, with the lack of good bowling games--or any at all--this game is the best option you have. Staring at the competition though, thatís not saying much.
Community review by True (May 20, 2005)
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