The noble sport of tenpin bowling is a game of great skill and determination. You want proof? Only the other day I was searching through the various satellite channels trying to find something of slight interest to watch. Making my way into the foreign section I noticed that the tenpin world bowling championship was on.
Stopping in my remote control tracks while an over excitable commentator squealed something intelligible into his microphone. I was amazed at just how many people were at the arena supporting this so-called sport. The two final contenders displayed a total lack of style and dress sense and sported the worst two moustaches I have ever seen in my life, but my god could they play tenpin! Despite the fact they looked like late '70's porn stars, strikes rapidly became commonplace and it was a rare occurrence if they didn't knock all the pins down with two balls. By this time I was getting more and more into this tenpin bowling/moustache lark, and when this TV extravaganza finished I yearned for a trek down to my local bowling arena - but there was something stopping me.
I have been ten-pin bowling once and it was one of the most embarrassing moments of my whole life. While pulling back my arm to let the ball go hurtling down the alley for a certain strike. I managed to actually throw the ball backwards. Least to say, the people standing behind me were not impressed and I didn't exactly embrace tenpin with loving arms ever again. The other reason why I'll never play the infernal sport again is those crap blue and red shoes you have to wear. Not only has some sweaty footed goon worn them before you, but any kind of credibility you might've had flies out of the window with the greatest of ease. If I had wanted to look like a clown I would've joined the circus!
Team 17 have now decided to release Kingpin, heralded as the definitive tenpin bowling simulation, and this means I can play the sport once more without fear of embarrassment and without the need to wear the crap shoes. Hurrah!
Anyone expecting a top-notch quality movie soundtrack, a raging dance tune or just about any good tune you can think of to appear in Kingpin may as well give up now and go home. A game like this demands a certain type of musical backing. A cheesy tune is required and Kingpin's musical introduction is just about pure Gorgonzola. It's not my cup of tea, but if you're sad enough to like computer game music then you'd probably like it.
Ignore the soundtrack and move on to the game because what Kingpin lacks in musical taste is more than made up for in the sound effects department. Sit back and turn up your TV/monitor so you can let your ears take in all the sounds. Hark, you can hear other tenpin games going on in the background and even announcements from the receptionist can be heard. Best of all is when you eventually get to throw your ball down the alley. Listen as your ball hits the polished wooden floor, rolls towards the pins and smashes them all over the place. The sound effects are all absolutely brilliant and I can't praise them enough as they give Kingpin oodles of atmosphere.
Take a quick peek at the screenshots dotted around the page. On the surface everything looks quite bland, but that is precisely the beauty and point of the graphics. Bland might not be the right word because the actual backgrounds and sprites are well drawn and fit into this type of game perfectly.
What I mean is Kingpin doesn't have fancy rendered graphics displayed in 256 colours to distract you from the all-important gameplay. What you see before you could be described as looking slightly plain, but it lets you get on with the job of knocking down pins which is what the game is all about.
It's fairly hard to tell you about the graphical side of things when there isn't much to explain. Touches such as the ability to change the colour of your bowling shirt aren't that interesting, but they all add up to show that a fair amount of effort has been spent on the product.
Although it shouldn't be in this particular box, there is a rather fine replay option which can be accessed right after you have struck some pins down, by holding down the fire-button for a couple of seconds. Lovingly re-created in slow motion, this feature gives you ideal opportunity to brag about your strikes and spares in great detail. The graphical element added to this feature is a terrific white 'R' which flashes in the corner of the screen. See, I'm boring you now. Basically, the players are well-animated, the pins look good, especially close-up, and the screen is uncluttered and well-presented.
Tenpin bowling is an indoor sport which first became popular in North America. As in skittles, the object is to bowl a ball down an alley at pins (ten as opposed to nine in skittles). The game is usually played between two players or teams. A game of tenpins is made up of ten 'frames'. The frame is the bowler's turn to play and in each frame he or she may bowl twice. One point is scored for each pin knocked down, with bonus points for knocking all ten pins down in either one ball or two (strike or a spare). The player or team making the greater score wins the game.
The game of ninepins was introduced to America by Dutch immigrants in the 17th century. By the end of the 19th century, it was very popular as a gambling game on the streets of New York. Consequently, the game was outlawed and in fact the extra pin was added just to get round the law.
I'm happy to report that Team 17 have struck again. For just under £13 I challenge you to find a game that performs as well as Kingpin. It may not boast graphics that blow the mind away or tunes that make your ears bleed, but it sports a superb array of sound effects and most important of all, it is packed full of top-notch quality gameplay and addiction.
I've been talking about the bog-standard game of Kingpin, but there are plenty of options such as the spares game where you have to hit a single pin - this sharpens up your bowling accuracy. Multi-player games work just as well as the single game and you can play against other humans or the computer. These features all go to give the game that bit of extra life to stop you from getting bored.
Even if you don't like tenpin bowling you're going to get a lot of satisfaction out of Team 17's latest offering. It's not one of those games you'll play for hours and hours on end, but if you ever need to play something for a short period of time then I'm sure you'll be reaching for Kingpin. Yet another superb success for the Teamsters and is there anyone out there who is prepared to give them a good run for their money?
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King's Quest 5, Lemmings 3: All New World of Lemmings, King of Chicago, Jungle Strike, King's Quest 6, King's Quest 1, Last Ninja Remix, Jurassic Park
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