Review: I-Play 3D Bowling

I-playBowling.jpg One of the things we’ve had to get used to since moving from Massachusetts to New York is the loss of Candlepin Bowling. Not that we are huge bowlers, just that getting two shots with a massive ball at duck pins is much different than three shots with something the size of a softball and pins shaped like, well candles. Both games are loads of fun – even if we aren’t all that good. The biggest challenge is getting the arm motion correct.

Which brings us to our latest iPhone game – I-Play’s 3D Bowling. If you look at the iTunes App Store for Bowling games you might be a bit overwhelmed – there are tons of options! Some are cheaper, others more expensive … all claim to be the best. I have only played a few, but most suffer from a basically poor translation of bowling to ‘iBowling’. Many are like the bowling games I have played in the past on PDA’s, where you flick the stylus to launch. Of course, that is completely wasteful on a system with an accelerometer accurate enough to use as a level (yes, I have – and my wife laughed at my geekiness while still appreciating how nicely level the portrait we hung was!).

So immediately after playing a round I knew this was a ‘Buy It’ for one main reason – it uses the accelerometer, and it does it well. Everything else is just gravy. But overall it is a solid game with plenty of options that will allow you to get in plenty of bowling by yourself or with friends.

For the solo bowler there is practice mode – you just bowl a string at your leisure. There are also two player modes on the iPhone, with each person alternating frames – or you can bowl against computer controlled opponents. Finally there is a tournament mode that puts you in competition for the grand prize! You can customize your bowler – the color of your ball and the appearance of the avatar shown while you play.

iPhone (bowling screen1).jpg iPhone (bowling screen2).jpg

But the real meat of the game comes down to three things – position, aim, and roll! You alter where your ball enters the lane by dragging it left or right, then you change the entry angle using touch controls. You do this to adapt to any systematic hook you might be dealing with. Everything up until you roll can be undone and redone. When you are satisfied, you simply treat your iPhone like a bowling ball and roll away! Everything about your toss effects how fast the ball goes and the motion as it heads down the lane. Of course, anyone who has seen the infamous ‘WiiMote through the flat screen’ videos on YouTube understands how important it is to maintain a proper grip! I have a leather case, but can only imagine that some folks might run into an expensive error if not careful!

So do be careful, but also give this one a try – this isn’t for the train ride, unless you like standing up and swinging your arms like a madman on the train! It is also a pain with headphones, as I found it kept pulling on mine to the point that I stopped bothering. But for a basic game of bowling, this is a solid and entertaining game that is easily worth the low entry price! Just to be clear – this is all about bowling, so if you have no interest in actual bowling, chances are there is no appeal here either!


+ Addictive gameplay based on accelerometer
+ Feels like bowling
+ Nice gameplay options

– Accelerometer can be unpredictable
– Long start-up time
– Pin physics not terribly accurate

Game Info:
Platform: iPhone
Publisher: Digital Bridges / IPlay
Developer: IPlay
Release Date: 02/09/09
Genre: Bowling
ESRB Rating: Unrated
Players: 1-2
Price: $2.99

About the Author

I have loved technology for as long as I can remember - and have been a computer gamer since the PDP-10! Mobile Technology has played a major role in my life - I have used an electronic companion since the HP95LX more than 20 years ago, and have been a 'Laptop First' person since my Compaq LTE Lite 3/20 and Powerbook 170 back in 1991! As an avid gamer and gadget-junkie I was constantly asked for my opinions on new technology, which led to writing small blurbs ... and eventually becoming a reviewer many years ago. My family is my biggest priority in life, and they alternate between loving and tolerating my gaming and gadget hobbies ... but ultimately benefits from the addition of technology to our lives!