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Sport: Action
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Mike Gerrard
Chris Bourne

There can't be many sports not computerised now, apart from maybe synchronised swimming, and Ocean are probably working on that one right now. Ocean ... swimming? Oh please yourselves. It seems amazing that ten-pin bowling has escaped for so long, but here at last is the micro version for all those who think that life is just a bowling alley.

If you know the rules then we won't waste space explaining them, and if you don't then read the cassette inlay and you too will discover how you can lose to the computer with increasing embarrassment on each of the four skill levels, though there's a two-player option so that you can get embarrassed in front of your friends, too. Control is by the redefinable keyboard or Kempston, Sinclair or Cursor joysticks.

At top left of the screen you see the pins, the main display being your end of the alley, which you see from on-high over the player's right shoulder. Left and right are used for the soft-shoe shuffle either way, with up to launch him on his way. Then comes the tricky bit. Pressing fire holds the ball ready for the throw, and releasing the button/key rolls the ball down the lane. Well, to begin with it usually releases the ball on your head, foot or any other part of your anatomy. and those who are into pain are welcome to do the same with a real bowling ball if it'll help increase the reality of it all.

Timing really is the key to the game, and those who master it will probably have a lot of fun at the expense of their friends, but if the game has a fault it's that the timing has to be so precise to within about one zillionth of a second that foot faults and dropped balls outnumber strikes about a thousand to one. You also can't break out of the game to start again when you're losing 113-7, which is highly unfair.

Graphics aren't bad, but the sound could be better. Still, it can get quite addictive if you're prepared to put up with the initial shame, and it'll probably be one of those games you get off the shelf every once in a while for a bit of fun rather than play for hours at a stretch.