Over 10 years ago, bowling became a household video game favorite with the launch of Wii Sports. It became such a phenomenon that even senior citizen homes were hosting their own tournaments. In the time since, I can’t really recall any bowling games that have stood out. Sure, I’ve heard of Brunswick Pro Bowling, but despite official licenses it just can’t capture the joy that Wii Sports brought. Originally releasing in 2012 as a PlayStation Move game, Crazy Strike Bowling has arrived on current gen consoles in the form of Crazy Strike Bowling EX. Thankfully the motion controls were ditched in favor of a traditional gamepad. With a name like that I would expect a less-than traditional take on the game of bowling, and I was not disappointed.
Crazy Strike Bowling EX is a well-rounded bowling game that offers a variety of modes for all preferences. Call me traditional but I just like a good old-fashioned game with nothing “crazy” when I play a bowling game. I like to challenge the computer or another person to a test of our skills on a level playing field. If I only played traditionally, I would still be completely satisfied with Crazy Strike Bowling EX. Some of the other modes include crazy exhibition, which has obstacles and special powerups to spice things up. There’s a battle mode where two players bowl in each other’s direction to score the most points. Challenges are specific events where you might have to hit two spares in a row or hit certain pins while avoiding others. Finally, if those weren’t enough you can enter the locker room and purchase or equip clothes, hats and different balls for your favorite character. I really like how there is a solid traditional version of bowling and some crazy stuff to liven things up.
There are six characters to choose from, three girls, two boys and a bear (yes, bear!). Every character has different stats in the areas of: power, spin and control. As you play through game modes your character earns experience and money. Your character of choice will level up a few times until they reach the rank of World Professional, leveling up increasing their skills in the three areas mentioned. There is a difference in the feel of each character, especially during challenges where they are assigned to you. I preferred to just stick to one character, Aiden, this helped me get into a groove and be familiar with his power meter. Choosing different clothes and balls will also alter the player’s stats in various ways. All the characters have a generic anime look to them, depending on your preference you will either love or hate the art style. With a press of a button you can also switch all characters from right to left handed, a nice detail.
Controlling your bowler properly is a fine balance of aim and timing. Before stepping into your throw, you can adjust your bowlers starting stance and aim the ball in a desired direction. Pressing A will initiate a power meter that moves up and down; obviously the fuller the meter the harder the throw. You can also add English to the ball in any direction during this meter. After setting the power, another meter pops up for your direction. Stop the meter in the green section to throw a perfectly straight shot and hopefully get a strike. Mess up and you will likely be left with a gutter ball or foul. It all sounds a bit complicated on paper, but once I put some time into the game the controls allowed for very precise throws. You can also zoom in to better aim your throws, but I would have preferred it to zoom in further.
Graphically, Crazy Strike Bowling EX looks like a game that originally released five years ago. There is a nice variety of stages, both indoor and outdoor, that keeps things fresh. Set in the Grand Canyon, Amazon Rainforest, China, Egypt and even crazier locations, I was always bowling in a fun place. Of course, if you aren’t into crazy locals there are plenty of traditional bowling alleys as well.
With 4-player support and a variety of modes both traditional and unique, Crazy Strike Bowling EX is a blast. Yes, it is a port of a PlayStation Move game that has not aged gracefully, but those are small gripes. The price of $12.99 USD is fair for the amount of content and potential replay value in multiplayer. Crazy Strike Bowling EX is a perfect game to have in your catalog on game night and it’s appropriate for players of all ages.
Crazy Strike Bowling EX is available now on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. A review code was provided by Corecell Technology for the purpose of this review.