US Gold Ltd
1987
Sport: Action
£8.99
£2.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Alkatraz Protection System

50
John Gilbert
Chris Bourne

According to US Gold's Tenth Frame rating system, I could be an amateur or professional, but I can't get the right swing on those shiny, black bowls to knock all the pine over in either one or two strikes.

The basic play is easy enough, but factors such as speed of ball and direction determine the standard of your game. If you try kiddie level - easy as pie - the speed at which the bowl travels down the alley is automatically set for the best advantage and the bowl will always travel in a straight line towards the pins.

You can aim the ball in any straight line down the alley. Push forward on the joystick and a cursor appears about a centimetre away from your little bowler. Move it across the alley until it's at the point where you want to line up the shot and pull back on the stick to move the man around. Hit Fire and the bowler tosses the ball through the invisible cursor point and, hopefully, at the pins. Each bowler gets two opportunities to knock over - strike - all ten pins - on each visit to the alley, and ten visits to the alley. The sub-totals for each visit are added up to a grand total of pins down - if you do exceptionally well you may get an extra frame of play, just like those spacey coin-ops give you a bonus go.

Amateur and Expert levels put the pressure on. Both levels bend the bowl to the left of the alley as you throw it. You've got to compensate for this spinning drift by moving your player and the line-of-sight cursor to the right. It'll take some doing but, like any true simulation, once you start to get the knack your new found confidence will slowly show up on the scoreboard.

You don't have to play League bowls - in groups - you can play with a number of individuals - Open Bowls - or by yourself. There's no player-versus-computer option, which is a great misfortune, but I s'pose you can play amongst yourselves one after another in various personas.

If you can live with yourself, and the odd friend who may stumble into your computer area and deigns to move a character around the screen go for it. If. however, you can wait until Indoor Sports, from Advance, is released you can choose between the two packages. From what I've seen, the latter'll take a lot of beating in terms of price and quality, but 10th Frame ain't exactly naff.

Label: US Gold
Price: £9.95
Joystick: various
Memory: 48K
Reviewer: John Gilbert

***

Bowling game with no outstanding features. Even the background colour is jaded. But if bowling's your game...

3/5