As soon as I heard about Date Night Bowling, I thought it sounded right up my alley (see what I did there?); the mixture of visual novel/dating simulator/bowling appealed to me on a greater scale, because I love all of those things. All those things made me want to enjoy the game so much, but I can’t say I really did. Let me explain why.
Said to be an ‘arcadey bowling game’, Date Night Bowling is exactly what it says on the tin, a game where you will engage in small talk with various people, getting to know them better over a good old game of bowling. Will you succeed at your first date, bowling or both?
Upon starting the game you will learn that you can play alone, versus the AI or in local two-player multiplayer. I quickly selected versus the AI, which seemed like the right thing to do. There were 10 characters to choose from, but only 2 were unlocked to begin with, Holland and Jasper. You then get to choose your ball weight, your preferred bowling hand and the difficulty. Choose from a selection of 2 venues, and then your game begins.
The game begins with some very basic conversation between the 2 characters that is somewhat cheesy, in-between conversation you will each take turns to bowl. The bowling aspect is very basic; players will simply use the LS to choose your starting position and then use the RS to aim, once you’re satisfied with that you will choose your spin and power which is a continuously moving line. Stop it in the perfect position and you should get a good throw.
As well as your brief chit-chat and bowling turns, Date Night Bowling throws in some mini-games for you to ’develop your connection.’ These can be anything from having a sing-along by moving your curser to stay in tune, to winning in a grabber machine. These were a nice little addition to the game.
See, Date Night Bowling doesn’t rely on narrative choices alone to determine how well your date goes. In fact, it doesn’t rely on them at all. Instead, your connection is determined by how well you do in the mini-games provided. Not even the bowling makes a difference.
When the game of bowling is over, you will receive an overall score of your date, and this determines whether your characters are compatible or not. I did tend to find it quite difficult to get a good score, though.
After a few play throughs of nothing happening, I started to think I was doing something wrong. I would have expected to start unlocking more characters by this point. Annoyingly, you need to play single-player mode in order to unlock other characters, which the game doesn’t tell you. This is just a bowling mode, and allows you to get to know the characters a little more, but as you can probably imagine, it gets boring pretty quickly.
My favourite part of Date Night Bowling was actually in its aesthetic. It has an 80s vibe to it, with bright neon colours combined with a grainy effect. It works so well, and I loved it.
Overall, Date Night Bowling has some good aspects, but it’s not really delivered very well. The game can get very dull fairly quick and after around an hour I had seen everything it has to offer. It’s a simple premise, and sadly it’s not enough.
Beautiful 80s aesthetic
Mini-games can be fun
Game doesn’t offer any direction to unlock new characters
Gets boring quite quickly
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A massive lover of all things nerdy, Chelly has been games writing for over 3 years now and hopes to gain more experience and knowledge doing so. Her favourite games are Monster Hunter, Borderlands and Pokemon.