(Wii U eShop)

Wii Sports Club: Bowling (Wii U eShop)

Game Review

Wii Sports Club: Bowling Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

No splits here

When it comes to the games in the original Wii Sports that felt the most realistic and compelling, Bowling would have to be a candidate as the best of the lot. Golf and Baseball may have a say, too, while Tennis and Boxing — most definitely the latter — perhaps had the greatest degree of waggle. The fact Bowling reappeared in MotionPlus form in Wii Sports Resort made Wii Sports Club: Bowling an absolute no-brainer: Nintendo already had this one down, it just needed to add a fresh logo and some important touches.

And that, right down to almost the last pin, is what Nintendo's achieved. The MotionPlus implementation feels the same as it did in Resort, which took already excellent mechanics and added precision into the mix. You can either opt for an automatic motion (where you hold B through the whole move) or the more natural manual option in which you release B at the key moment. With your on-screen Mii mirroring your actions, this swing and release motion feels like the real deal, albeit a Wii Remote is far lighter than a bowling ball; this precision allows you to expand your skill set, alternating between straight throws or curling the ball either way. When you factor in the ability to change the starting point and angle of your delivery, along with the controls punishing a sloppy or over-zealous movement or twist of the wrist, this is a control scheme that is honed to perfection.

Just like Wii Sports Club: Tennis, there are also three training games — branded as Skill Shapers — included that are designed to test your abilities and enable you to master the skills required for a Perfect game. Shoot for Spares is self explanatory, serving up increasingly difficult formations for you to conquer. Skittle Skills is the trickiest, as various lines and formations are set up for you to take down in one shot; these can require tight control of spin and overall accuracy. Triple Whammy is the least useful, as different 100-pin formations are there to be toppled; though some skill is needed to maximise the results, it has a reliance on luck that makes it the weakest of the three.

Away from these tests of skill, single and multiplayer can be enjoyed in three flavours — there's a standard 10-pin game of ten rounds, a suitably anarchic 100-pin alternative, as well as a more complex mode that necessitates tricky spins around barriers to even reach the pins. Purists will likely get plenty of enjoyment out of the default option, as it's as simple and compelling as always when played with others, while the other modes at least shake up the formula; though they are recreated from Wii Sports Resort, of course.

One particularly important feature that this has over Resort, of course, is the ability to hop online for matches. Once again the choice is to play with Everyone, others in your Club or Friends, and Everyone is the safest and quickest way to get into a match. Credit is due for the process of jumping into a match, as you initially go into a practice area while waiting for three others to join; this takes longer than the immediate matches in tennis, but after a short wait the title has the sense to start a game with those that are in attendance. We had rounds with a full complement of four — which takes longer but is enjoyable — and we've also been in two-player alleys due to a player or two becoming disconnected. Most importantly, though rather simple considering the turn-based approach, there aren't any issues of lag that affect your play — animations of competitors may jitter occasionally, but the scoring and your own bowling action is smooth throughout.

While hardly worthy of commendation due to the fact it should be standard, we are pleased that this online component has been put together proficiently. That does somewhat fall-over, again, when joining friends for a match. As described in our Wii Sports Club: Tennis review, we encountered an awkward dance while trying to get a game underway with Friends; the game failed to match us when we were both in the waiting area, instead leaving us reliant on joining the other in a match when kicked to the initial lobby; it's an exercise in timing and fiddly co-ordination that's baffling, especially when trying to use the quirky system and not having the other appear in the lobby as expected. It has a random feel, at the time of the writing, and will surely be fixed at server level or in an update.

Aside from these odd issues when playing in the Friends section, the online works as advertised. This extends to the Club mechanic, with your region of choice being regularly graded in an overall leaderboard, and Miiverse messaging being utilised for pep talks, general notes or in-game messages to opponents. The pre-set messages are also nice and positive, and it was heartwarming, in our experiences, that when playing with others online they'd often send encouraging, supportive messages to those struggling to nail strikes. In a world where online play can be a childish, malicious affair, it truly is a haven of uncomplicated and pleasurable competition.

The only issue with Wii Sports Club: Bowling is its inevitable similarity not just to the original Wii Sports — which is expected — but also its Wii Sports Resort iteration. While it can be legitimately argued that Nintendo could have gone slightly lower in its pricing, the online play and — to a lesser degree — the Club mechanic do add to the experience, embellishing a well-established and tight bowling experience.


Wii Sports Club: Bowling was always, barring an unfortunate split, a clear Strike opportunity for Nintendo and its contracted developer of choice, Namco Bandai. Aside from the flawed Friends online setup, online matches benefit and work handsomely due to the turn-based focus, while options to play standard, 100-pin or curve challenge modes add to the experience. Stepping on from the Wii Sports Resort offering, the Miiverse and Club implementation also work well, while the Skill Shaper modes are quick but fun diversions.

Unlike the flawed experience of its Tennis counterpart this truly does feel like a natural evolution of the original two iterations, and is well worth consideration.

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User Comments (60)



MAB said:

Of course the most boring of all the sports was gonna get a better score



ThomasBW84 said:

@MadAussieBloke Interesting point, apart from the fact Bowling isn't boring

Serious point though, it's a better game than Tennis (in my opinion, of course) for its solid, refined controls and reliable online performance. It would have been hard to 'break' the online for bowling, but I'm concerned with the final result, ultimately.



Nintenjoe64 said:

I personally preferred the new tennis. Bowling is almost exactly the same as it was on Wii Sports Resort. Online is nice and works well but my only disconnection happened during bowling and the games take too long. I thought Tennis was the most addictive online game I've played since Mario Kart Wii but I was let down by the lack of customisation in the tennis.

I don't see how the old Wii Sports tennis was 'waggle'. It had a simple but clear timing system to aim and good players were much better than inexperienced.



bizcuthammer said:

Definitely getting this. Its probably the only Wii Sports Club game i'll pay the $10 for. All the others i'll probably just do a day pass for about twice a year.



rjejr said:

Bowling is the most realistic - minus the aforementioned ball weight - b/c it most closely mimics the bowling motion. I bowl the same scores in this, 160-170, that I bowl in real life. I'm fairly certain I could never consistently hit a tennis ball over a net and into a court in real life. Not to mention I've never been able to successfully clone myself for a doubles match.

And to get in on the conversation - bowling is boring. More boring than pool or darts or golf or even curling. The only thing that makes it not boring is that it is so boring it minimizes the discrepancy when playing w/ family. Its like the tic tac toe of sports. And in real life its ok w/ beer and friends after spending 90 straight nights at the video arcade. But then it's back to another 90 straight nights at the video arcade.



cyrus_zuo said:

Played both, I much prefer Tennis b/c

  • You can take 2 people online in tennis! (Co-op yeah!)
  • Tennis games are much faster to play
  • Tennis gameplay w/wm+ is new, bowling has not changed


NintyMan said:

To me this is the best of the two sports on offer. The online nearly works without a hitch, mainly because there's not much interaction between the Miis, and the only lag is at the very second when you the vs. screen pops up in the beginning and when replays are done playing. Other then that, it's super smooth and greatly adds to the bowling experience.

Unless Golf or Boxing surprises me with excellent online and controls, this will easily be my most played sport.



Pichubby said:

Tennis was- and is- the best, in my opinion.
Bowling always stunk, mainly because my sis could beat anyone, and did, in the house.
I'm looking foward to boxing, myself.



Emblem said:

The game has not changed at all as the new controls do not actually change anything unlike tennis. The online works better due to the nature of the game but thats not worth two extra points imo.

That said it really depends on what sport people like best.



Morph said:

There's not really much i can complain about with bowling, its the already great wii sports resort version with online thrown in. Id still like a greater degree of control when it comes to the clubs and player rankings but that's more of an overall issue than a single sport issue. Controls and options are good, couldnt ask for much more really



KeeperBvK said:

@MadAussieBloke Golf and Bowling were the best two of the whole Wii Ports bunch in my opinion. Always kept coming back to those with friends, while we never touched the other three again after 2006.



Robottiimu2000 said:

I usually agree with your reviews, but with these two sports reviews I have to disagree.. I would've put the scores just the other way around

Half an hour tennis online (of which only one game with lousy connection) measured 250 kcal burn.. vs. same old same old of the bowling.. But I would choose tennis of these two in RL as well..

edit: you can really "feel" the racket in tennis, which is an awesome upgrade, and makes the playing really nice imho.



jkvasn said:

That awkward moment when you're trying to explain to somebody how I used to play the old Wii Sports: Golf - involving sitting on the couch with my WiiMote turned sideways while flicking my wrist at just the right velocity...



SphericalCrusher said:

Been using this to practice, since I am bowling in a charity event tonight with an office team (Bowling in real life. lol)



LittleIrves said:

Bowling's fine and dandy, but in my 24-hour trial I played 3 extended sessions of Tennis, then 1 of bowling... then went back to Tennis. I find the quick matches much more compelling than the longer, ten-frame bowling events. And a back-and-forth rally really gets the blood going. Since you only need 7 points, there's a lot of potential for consistent drama — suddenly you're way behind, or you have Match Point but lose a few in a row. I'll be buying the Tennis Pass but will wait on Bowling, hoping for some kind of package deal once all the sports are released. (Golf!)

(Oh, and Boxing was quite the finesse game even in the original. If you took your time and knew what you were doing, the controls were great. It makes me crazy seeing all these people still wiggling their racquets like mad while playing Tennis, since that's what they're used to, even though you really do need to take deliberate swings now. I just hope the Player Matching gets better and I'm paired with better competition soon /gauntlet, etc./)



sinalefa said:

Of the two sports, I prefer bowling, but I admit that the update was kinder to Tennis. This one is barely upgrading from Resorts.



Falchion said:

Bowling is good but there is not enough improvement over the original. I like tennis much better!



yvanjean said:

@MadAussieBloke - You've obviously haven't played the game yet.... it's really much improved over the Wii Sports counterpart (I never played it in Resorts). Unlike the Tennis, who suffers from unresponsive, non-casual friendly controls with a lack luster online mode.

The online in Bowling is a little bare also, I would of like to be able to select the numbers of opponents you play default is 4 online opponents.



Mr_Nose said:

Absolutely love it. Bought it as soon as my trial ran out. Played so much my arm and feet are sore ( from standing ).

I like how you can add custom pictures to your comments, and how you can jump up and spin around while spectating. Needs more of those actions, though.

I would love to see some seasonal themes on the allies, and maybe a little rock and bowl, with the lighting and music effects... Man, that would be awesome.



Achoo said:

For me, both Tennis and Bowling were 8s if not 9s. Obviously they are very different games and both will appeal to different audiences and so some will favour one over the other, but both are excellent.
Bowling has the 1up over tennis for the online, but if you want a smooth online tennis game, get a faster connection or don't bother, simple. I'm sure if it was possible for Nintendo to write the net code so that it was smooth for people with a 10mb connection or less, they would have. These people know what they are doing and are highly trained professionals, so people commenting on Nintendo's lack of net code skills really should not talk so much about things they know little about.



tom_q said:

I am enjoying both sports a lot although it is very hard to find a game in tennis. My only problem I have had with bowling was when the other two players lost connection after the first frame and I was forced to finish the game alone or restart my console.



Darknyht said:

Never played the Wii Sports Resort version of Bowling but the Sports Club version is so much better than the original version. My biggest problem now is that I cannot figure out how to get the force of the throws I use in real life, and much like in real life I stink at hooking the ball with any accuracy.



Kirk said:

Well I knew this was going to get a better score than Tennis.

It's still a shame about the gimped online though.



Robottiimu2000 said:

Well.. you might be right, but that is what my heart rate meter and sports tracker on iphone claims. Of course they are by no means pro equipment to measure such things, but on the other hand they are tools for measuring just that. I do play it standing up and really working the hits, and I do break a sweat every time play, so i was curious and started to measure it in the first place.. I'll do a second test tomorrow



B3ND3R said:

My dad and I used to love playing Wii Sports bowling... Now we can enjoy it all over again



ULTRA-64 said:

A bit eembarrassing they couldn't think of a single new feature to add! But then this release is a panic button release for Nintendo, I'll stick to resort as I don't play online much and I feel dirty paying cash money for a game they were happy to give away a few years ago!



biglee said:

My one huge complaint about this game is that two people on the same console can't join an online game together. I totally pictured having online bowling double dates when downloading this game, but was extremely disappointed to find that I couldn't pull my wife into an online game with me. It makes even less sense that they'd leave this feature out of bowling since it's possible in tennis. I really hope Nintendo catches wind of this oversight and issues an update to fix this! Other than that I am totally loving Wii bowling again and competing with other Wii U owners online. Can't wait for my other favorite sport, golf.



biglee said:

Oh and two other things I really feel Nintendo should add is in game chat when playing with people on your friends list - I can video chat with friends out of game but can't voice chat with them while playing a game with them online? That makes no sense! And the other thing they should do is allow us to view the entire score board on the game pad during the game. I think these features would make bowling feel more complete and like more of an upgraded version.



Robottiimu2000 said:

@kokirii Heya.. Made another test run today
Result was 38 min playing 199 kcal burned. I checked the last "workout" as well.. there was an odd spike of 140+ bpm so it must've affected the result on the last measure. But I didn't break sweat today like I did yesterday..



element187 said:

@MadAussieBloke bowling was the most interesting.

But I think tennis got a bad wrap because people were expecting just to swing the racket and be able to play like original Wii sports game... This new version has a finesse to it.... At first I hated it but from playing all the tennis training modes, I have the hang of it and can really hit the ball exactly how and where i want it to go which has raised the fun factor for me. Tennis should have been a 7/10 if people take the time to learn the new control changes by spending some time with the training modes.... Also I haven't had any MP issues



element187 said:

@Nintenjoe64 I think both games are solid for the small $10 asking price. My only real complaint for either game is the primitive mode of communication. It really hurts the experience not being able to have a dynamic conversation with the people you are playing with. Seems like a major missed opportunity.... Perhaps it was a big hassle and they needed the game out before Christmas so they will patch it in later? ( yeah I know, fat chance)



Achoo said:

@element187 Yes I know, but as people seemed to be blaming Nintendo, I thought I would just remark on them for the people that did not know of this. Becides, Namco Bandai are working for Nintendo as a subsidiary, so it is Nintendo and not Namco who's reputation is being damaged



element187 said:

@biglee 100% agree. It's a missed opportunity. I want to be able to voice chat with whoever I'm playing against, it really increases the enjoyment 10 fold.

When there is no communication like this it just feels like I'm playing against robots.



element187 said:

@achoo ahh, I understand now..... One of two things. Nintendo either told Namco no voice chat for safety of children's ears, or they were up on crunch time to get these two out before the holidays, so they decided to ship it as is and add voice chat later (yes I really am hoping they fix this, but chances are probably really slim)

If they were up against crunch time it could explain why it is so buggy online, they didn't have a chance to thoroughly test it, and it needs to be there for thanksgiving and Xmas



Nintenjoe64 said:

@element187 I really hope they sort it out with patches not just to improve communication (which I think is deliberately designed so they can moderate it easily) but they need multiple online users otherwise it just looks shabby by today's standards. Switching Wii U users by quitting the game isn't good enough.
I agree with you about the controls. I'm shocked that people are saying there is something wrong with it. They've made them far more precise and made it easier to control your player. I've only experienced lag in 1 game out of about 40. I did get a few games where my Wiimote kept losing its centre but that was easy enough to deal with and didn't happen after calibrating.



Sinister said:

Tennis controls are too wonky. That and the lag made Bowling the far superior game. And do not tell me i got a bad internet connection.



Luffymcduck said:

And I only played one 100-pin round with my friend while most of the time went into online tennis. We had a good connection for most matches so that's what we preferred.



Gameday said:

is there a thread for the game itself ?
im also waiting for Golf , i can see people finding ways to mess up baseball and such...



WreckItRyan said:

I just played Wii Bowling online for the first time, and it was a blast! Hadn't had that much fun with my Wii U since I bought it. Personally, I would rate this a 9/10 at the LOWEST. Very nice game! Cheap for $10 too.

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