Lets say I had a 27km pipe, and into this I put crazy golf and bowling and fired them at each other really, really, really fast. Scientists have pondered on this long and hard. The answer they got was Rocketbowl.

It’s hard to pin down Rocketbowl. It has a 50s style theme – your opponents all look like they’ve come straight out of Happy Days – but it still seems a little bit futuristic. The basic premise is, of course, your regular common-or-garden ten pin bowling – use a ball to knock down the pins, play ten frames, highest score wins. However, each of the courses (there are 10 in total, 1 regular course and 9 gradually unlockable crazier ones) has 10 lanes laid out across the level, each with various bumps, jumps, twists and turns. As your progress through the courses, you’ll find that you need to use different strategies along the way in order to maximise your score and, as a load screen points out, throwing the ball as hard as you can is not always the best way…

This is where is starts to get fun. You can play the game one of two ways. The first, more conventional way is to play each lane in turn, picking up money bonuses for knocking down specially marked pins. If that sounds a bit too normal for you then try this. Dotted around the course are various star bonuses (the stars equate to money at the end of the game) and if you want to make as much money as you can you then you can throw your ball outside of the “lane” you’re in and guide it across the map, battling the realistic gravitational physics, collecting stars along the way. As long as you hit a pin anywhere on the entire level before the time runs out then the stars (and therefore, the money) is yours. This feature really gives the game an added level of strategy as you’re encouraged to think outside the box to collect the bonuses.

What adds even more of a strategical twist is the vast range of balls available to you. You need to earn the money by playing through the courses in free-play or in tournaments, but once you’ve built up a decent balance you can buy new balls. To start with, they don’t offer much else other than a new paint job but as you get more money (and therefore access to new balls) you’re able to control your ball’s course better, or throw it faster, which in turn lets you net more money as you play through the frames. There are fifteen balls on offer, and if you want to get your hands on the ultimate 8-ball then you’re going to need a heck of a lot of money.

So, why’s the game called Rocketbowl? So far it’s been about the bowling, so where does the rocket come it? All the balls have a rocket booster, and with a quick press of a button you can make your ball jink to the left or the right – something which lets you pick up the spares when you’re looking at a tricky split. The number of boosts available vary from ball to ball added yet another strategic level to the way you play.

Single player challenges and tournaments are a great way to earn cash, but in all the tournaments I played in I was never really challenged by any of the AI players. If you find that’s the same then jump into multiplayer and challenge your friends to a few frames of the wierdest ten-pin game you’ll ever play.







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