Kingpin Lanes Review
- Extremely engaging concept; player made to feel as though it's 'their' bowling alley.
- Fun 'challenge' stages with new rules to test your skills.
- Interactive arcade adds an extra touch of realism; even if it's a bit sloppy in execution.
- Significant graphical and gameplay glitches in the final 'challenge' stage.
- Very limited selection of upgrades in the pro shop; although fun to buy, positive feedback loops make it all too easy to 'max out'.
Kingpin Lanes provides a gripping concept that will (initially) keep you coming back for more, but despite the wealth of wonderful ideas the novelty soon wears off and you'll struggle for a reason to keep playing.
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This is our third time out playing a game from Speedbump Studios and the developer is starting to show a distinctive theme throughout them all. Kingpin Lanes may be a fairly simple and arcade-ish ten pin bowling title, but it's married to a free-roaming, interactive world, engaging the player in a way few other games would even attempt to try.
Think of your character as a living, breathing individual who enjoys visiting the local lanes to make a little bit of extra cash by wagering on a frame or two. Once you start your 'career' you're given the ability to walk around the building, visiting the pro-shop if you wish to buy better gear, and if bowling tires you can always make a small amount of extra cash playing around in the Arcade.
Initially, making money will be your primary motivation as it provides access to the powerful gear contained within the pro shop. These include shoes that increase your 'mojo' (a limited resource that allows you to add an 'after touch' spin to your ball); and bowling balls with special properties ranging from perfectly straight throws, to having an insane amount of weight. While these add some flavor to the gameplay, the bowling itself is fairly stock-standard with its swipe-to-throw controls and relatively rudimentary pin physics.
Your real motivation for sticking with the game comes in unlocking its alternative 'challenge' modes, each one adding a series of special rules to make things more entertaining. From 'mini golf'-like bumpers, to slot machines, and even the ability to blast down alien ships (yes, that is a nod to 'RobotGladi8tor'), you'll need to bowl better than ever to survive their challenges.
...But eventually the novelty wears off, and thanks to owning all the best gear, wagers no longer provide any motivation in your career. It's a shame because there's a lot to like about the idea of having a living, breathing bowling alley you can truly call your own, but when you're bowling strikes without effort and the very thing you're wagering (cash) is no longer a reward, it becomes all too easy to put down again.
Kingpin Lanes is well worth visiting for the unique experience and fresh ideas, but you'll quickly lose the motivation to keep playing it as a casual bowling title.