Super Bowling FI

SNES A Day 85: Super Bowling


Approximate Release Month: September 1992
Genre: Bowling
Developer: Athena
Publisher: Technos

Super Bowling is proof that Wii Sports has ruined bowling video games for me.

For all the faults of the Wii and its motion controls, that thing is perfectly suited for bowling. Probably more so than anything else. So going back and playing a Super Nintendo bowling game like Super Bowling is a lot like playing a 3D first-person shooter on a console without dual-analog controls; it works but it feels kludgy and imprecise.

Still, you can’t fault Super Bowling for that, and on its own merits, it is a solid arcade bowling game with support for up to four people in pass-the-controller multiplayer competitions. I liked the cartoony graphics, with everything being nice and colorful and the four playable characters are well-animated and show nice emotion during big moments or major screw-ups. It’s cute and gives the game personality, which it needs since the bowling is what you’d expect. You position the character, tap the button to decide the spin and power of the ball, and hope the pins fall down.

In the standard bowling mode, players can choose between one of four characters, decide whether the avatar is left- or right-handed, change the color of the ball, pick the amount of oil on the lane, and swap between two difficulty settings. That’s it for options. There don’t seem to be different lanes to bowl in or computer opponents to test your mettle against. It’s bowling with as many people as you have around.

Super Bowling‘s golf mode is much more interesting. It’s basically a series of pin scenarios where the player has to knock every pin down. Mostly it’s a bunch of splits, and you have a limited number of balls to knock them down with. If you get under par, you lose points, just like in golf. The lower the score the better. Sadly, the appeal seems limited because the order of the mode doesn’t seem to be random. You get the one set of challenges and that’s it.

The final mode is practice. This is shockingly in-depth. The player can choose which of the ten pins are standing and practice that particular configuration. If the player wants to practice 7-10 splits all day, the mode will allow it. Super Bowling doesn’t seem deep enough to merit that much practice, though.

Even by the merits of the time, Super Bowling is a bit limited in content. Fleshing out the golf mode would have done wonders for the game’s longevity. But the game is fun, and having four-player multiplayer makes this game worth keeping around. It’s not going to last very long if you’re playing by yourself.

Tomorrow: I don’t understand the appeal of playing game show video games, but stay tuned for Wheel of Fortune!

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