PBA Pro Bowling | Review | Switch - TheFamicast.com: Japan-based Nintendo Podcasts, Videos & Reviews!


Friday, December 6, 2019

PBA Pro Bowling | Review | Switch

by Danny Bivens

A valiant effort with one too many open frames.
Ah, bowling. One of the only sports you can play while you sip on a cold alcoholic beverage, eat some greasy garbage food and smoke cigarettes simultaneously. Well, maybe not on a professional level…and probably not these days. Regardless, I’m a man who enjoys bowling. I even had the chance to play the game for two years during my PE class in high school, so basically, I’m an expert. When it comes to bowling video games, the genre has been lacking over the past few years. Aside from Wii Sports Bowling and the subsequent updated re-releases (Wii Sports Resort and Wii Sports Club on Wii U), there haven’t been a lot of bowling games let alone licensed bowling titles. Well, for all of you PBA diehards out there, you needn’t wait any longer - PBA Pro Bowling is available now on all major platforms and aims to bring a mix of simulation and arcade action to gamers needing a bowling fix…to varying degrees of success.

There are a handful of modes on offer here - Quickplay, Career Mode, Local Multiplayer and Online Tournaments. There is even a “Pro Shop” where you can use earned in-game currency to unlock additional bowling balls, bowlers, lanes and more. Playing through the career mode is probably where you will be spending most of your time here. The more you play and the deeper you get, the more rewards you receive to spend in the shop. There are quite a few things to unlock there, too.
Controls in PBA Pro Bowling come in two flavors . Using a Pro controller or Joy Con Grip, you can adjust where you bowler starts his or her approach and the angle you want to take. Moving the joystick back begins your approach while pressing it forward initiates the release. While the ball is on the lane you can also control the amount of spin that you put on the ball by moving the joystick left or right. It’s intuitive and you’ll find yourself getting used to the controls in no time.

Motion controls are another story. Using a Joy Con, the game prompts you to hold the ZR trigger, swing the controller in an upwards motion and then release the trigger to release the ball. Whereas you would think that adding some spin would be handled with an angled release, it’s not. You still control this with the joy stick after release. Honestly, I had a heck of a time actually getting this to work properly and gave up on this control option pretty quickly.

PBA Pro Bowling can be played in either simulation or arcade mode. The main difference between the two modes is that arcade gives players the ability to use special bowling balls at any time during a game. The lightening ball has a forcefield around it, causing it to hit more pins than a normal ball. The split ball is used to help pick up spares that would otherwise be nearly impossible. The bomb ball, well, it is basically an automatic strike. You can’t use these at will but there are cool down times between usage. While I’m usually a fan of realism in my sports titles, these were welcome additions when I screwed myself over in difficult situations.
When you are actually in the games themselves, you will typically either be playing in qualifiers or exhibition matches by yourself. You can go head to head with other professional bowlers, too. Games are generally over pretty quickly, however, the load time between frames does seem just a little bit too long. Online tournaments are also a welcome addition here. There are numerous tournaments going on throughout the day that you can buy into  would have been a nice option.

The presentation in PBA Pro Bowling is awesome. The visuals are believable with realistic renditions of locations, bowling balls, pins, lanes, and even broadcast camera angles and transitions between frames that offer a TV-like experience. Everything about the physics of the ball and the pins seems pretty spot on. When it comes to the in game athletes, the game engine does a decent enough job at bringing these real bowlers to life. Animations use the actual bowlers releases, quirks and all. There are some issues with clipping (i.e. you might see some arms clip through some of the characters stomachs a bit), but it’s not a huge deal. The spectators in the crowd are kind of a blurry mess, though. Again, not a huge deal, but it’s something that is noticeable.
Similar to the visual presentation of the game, the audio department also goes for a realistic approach offering commentary from real PBA commentators during your games. The idea here is solid, but after a few matches, you’ll quickly find yourself listening to the same jokes and comments over and over again.

Despite generally enjoying the game, I do have some gripes with PBA Pro Bowling on the Switch. The game is in desperate need of a practice mode. With all of the different lanes, oil patterns and bowling balls, it would be nice to be able to practice before getting into competitions. Speaking of competitions, the difficulty here is all over the place. Early on in career mode, I found myself matched up a pro bowler who kicked my ass in the second or third tournament. After playing the match again, I ended up defeating him handily as he had tons of open frames and missed easy shots. It was just odd.  re was no gradual difficulty curve - just some bowlers would have great or horrible games at random. No option for create-a-bowler is a huge missed opportunity here, too. While the default white guy with brown hair represents me perfectly fine, I’m sure there are many others out there that would have liked something more.
Although PBA is generally easy to pick up and play, there were some times where the game would really frustrate me. In an effort to keep the realism train going, the game, much like real life bowling, offers different kinds of lanes to get your roll on complete with different oil patterns. For professional bowlers, this helps to keep them on their toes so they have to adjust to the varying conditions depending on where they play. For more casual bowlers or players like myself, I kind of just want to bowl and not worry about this kind of minutia. It would be fine if this was relegated to just the simulation mode, but this is also found in the arcade mode.

PBA Pro Bowling on the Switch is pretty faithful to professional bowling. Sometimes a bit too much. On the plus side, the game is easy to pick up and play for most. Well, with the standard gamepad control scheme at least. For me, the game falls apart with some of the attention to detail being a bit too realistic, even while playing in Arcade mode.  Even though I enjoy this game quite a bit, a lot of little things get in the way of making this an absolute must own title.
Score: 6.0


sonofnothing said...

I saw 'open bowl' in the menu in this video. If you're looking for practice mode, that would be it. Open bowl refers to non-league or competition bowling.

Justin said...