Elf Bowling 1&2

Reviewed by Martin Henely, Posted on 2005-12-19


Developer: Ignition Entertainment Publisher: Ignition Entertainment
Release Date: November 15, 2005 Also On: None

Have you ever played a game in the Mario Party series? If you have, you know that the entertainment value in games of that type lies in a horde of uncomplicated games that can be played by just about anybody. What makes the game last is the quantity of different mini-games to play and the fact that you never have to play the same one long enough for it to reach the point where it's boring. You might be wondering what that has to do with this game. Well, Elf Bowling 1 and 2 is essentially two games that would fit in just fine with one of these hordes of minigames, only with increased length.

The graphics in this game are decent at best. They look nice, but the animations lack detail and do not particularly impress in any way. You can tell what everything is, but there's nothing that can be construed as overly creative graphically. That would be just fine when the games were just free flash games, but for a game that you want people to pay for, more is expected.

The same can be said for the sound. The voice acting is cute and funny in its own way, for the most part, particulary Santa laughing maniacally when you knock down all the pins in a frame. Admittedly, some of the commentary isn't in the best taste, and this might not be the best game to allow young kids to play. The sound effects are okay for a while, but it won't be long before you'll be tired of hearing the same things over and over again, and the same is true of what few stock commentary phrases are available in this game. So overall, the sound is decent in the short term, but you'll get tired of it quickly.

That isn't much of a problem though because you'll get tired of the game itself soon enough. As you might have figured out from the name of the game, there are actually two games in this package. However, only one of them is bowling. Elf Bowling 2 is actually a shuffleboard game. The two games are sufficiently different, so I will discuss them separately.

Elf Bowling 1 is a bowling game. It is quite possibly the most simplified bowling game I have ever played in my entire life. The bowling minigame in Super Monkey Ball 1 is more complex. Anyway, you're Santa, the elves are on strike, and you decide to bowl them back into the workshop. It is a hideously contrived plot, but it serves its purpose.

Essentially, the gameplay works like this. There's a little bar of arrows across the bottom of the bottom screen and a little yellow/red indicator moves back and forth. You hit the A button or touch the touchscreen with your stylus to stop that indicator and throw the ball. You can't move the starting point of the ball away from the middle of the lane, and you can't put spin on the ball. Even worse is the fact that, with rare exception, you know exactly what's going to happen when you see where the indicator stopped.

This makes for a simplified game where the gamplay is saved only by the wackiness of the elves, the occasional deer that wanders to the side of the lane, and Santa's maniacal laughter when he knocks all the elves over in a frame. It should be clear by now that there isn't much to this game, and it is made worse by the fact that the game can only be played with one player and high scores are not saved.

Sadly, as simplified as the bowling game is, the shuffleboard game doesn't fare much better. One of the few upsides of this game is that you can play against a second player, and not only do you not need a second copy of the game to play this, but you don't even need a second DS system. You just hand the same one back and forth. The plot to this game is just as contrived as the first one's, with Santa battling his twin Dingle Kringle for the right to be father Christmas by using elves on a shuffleboard court (or whatever it's called in shuffleboard).

Essentially, Santa (controlled by player 1) and Dingle (player 2 or the computer) take turns shooting elves down the court and trying to get as many points as possible. In this game, unlike in bowling, you choose a column to send the elf down and a power level to send him at. Also, you're on a boat, so the tilt of the boat will affect what direction the elf goes in. Each Kringle gets four elves per round, and the winner is the Kringle with the most points after three rounds.

The main problem with this system is not only that it gets old fast, but that it is as much a matter of luck as it is of skill. Occasionally, an elf will come up who will be worth 2 or 3 times whatever point value he ends up on. This can really give one of the two participants an unfair lead. You might think that the simple solution would be to knock this elf off the court, and it is possible to do so, but just barely. Collisions are as likely to happen by accident as they are to happen when you are trying to make them happen.

So what we're left with is two incredibly simple games that are made more entertaining by elf antics and effects that get old fast. This is not the type of game that you'd ever put hours into, but rather an hour or two per holiday season. There is hardly any creativity, since these are nearly exact ports from the flash originals to my knowledge, and the replay value is also low. I'd recommend just downloading the flash versions if you want to try these games.

Graphics: 5
Sound: 6
Gameplay: 3
Creativity: 1
Replay Value/Game Length: 2
Final: 3.5
Written by Martin Review Guide

Reviewed by Martin Henely