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Bowling (Atari)

DoctorSpuds

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I'm feeling lazy today, so I'm just going to review Atari's Bowling. This has got to be one of the most basic games on the 2600, both in game-play, sound, and graphics. But this isn't necessarily a bad thing. I find that the game gets it's message across rather well, that message being bowling. Sorry If this is a short review but there isn't much TO review... onto the graphics.

 

Minimal doesn't even begin to cover this... This game almost has no graphics. Two lines for the lane... ten squares for the pins, another square-ish shape for the ball, and a super blocky dude. You also have your score in the top left with indicators for each frame played, twelve in all. That's it... I've just described he entire game's graphics in one run-on sentence. If there's something I missed, please tell me so I can make this review longer. PLEASE!!

 

Sounds are ultra simple as well, just the sound of the ball rolling, which is a crunchy growling noise. The sounds of the pins being hit down sound like what many other Atari games used as lazer fire, so your hitting down lazer pins (patent pending). And a celebratory wolf whistle noise when you score a strike or a spare... Oh! I found something to add to the graphics, when you score a strike or a spare your blocky dude jumps up and down and flashes multiple colors. Well that was an extra sentence that was really needed. Will the game-play save this game from impending doom?

 

The short answer is a resounding yes! This game is a fantastic representation of bowling on the 2600's hardware. This game doesn't get bogged down with throw speed or angle or spin, you simply throw it and it will go where you aimed. That's not where it ends though, you have different game styles. Games one and two have a ball which you can curve in the direction you move the joystick. Games three and four have a freely steerable ball. Games five and six have a ball that simply goes straight, no steering allowed. The way the ball interacts with the pins is also, I feel rather realistic. Unlike Bowling on the Odyssey 2 where i the ball simply plows through the pins, in Atari's Bowling the ball bounces off the pins changing trajectory and leading to a rather unpredictable game. It is unlikely that you will bowl the same game twice... ever... which keeps the overall game fresh and enjoyable.

 

This is far from being the best game on the system, I know that many people couldn't give less of a crap about it, but give it a play, you can get through a whole game in just a few minutes, you may just end up enjoying yourselves.

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I loved it bitd and we played it for hours on end, interspersing it with even simpler games like combat and surround.

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I loved it bitd and we played it for hours on end, interspersing it with even simpler games like combat and surround.

 

That... In my opinion is the perfect way to play 2600, there is just so much variety.

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This is actually one of my seven-year-old's favorite games currently, alongside Minecraft and Roblox.  Sometimes simplicity is really where it's at with gaming.

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Good review!  Bowling has always been a favorite of mine, too.  One other note about the graphics: if I understand correctly, Bowling was the first 2600 game to associate a color table with a sprite (the player sprite), which allowed them to put "clothes" and "shoes" on the player.  An important innovation, even in such a simple game as this.

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