Anyone looking for a bit of bowling or air hockey on the PSP for a reasonable price? Well, lucky you, as Arcade Air Hockey & Bowling is here form the PlayStation Store! In all seriousness, Arcade Air Hockey & Bowling is an honest little Minis title. It really is just a quick blast of air hockey or a short bowling session in your pocket, ready for the opportune moment during your travels. Played in short bursts, it’s relatively enjoyable, and seeing as minis titles are deliberately meant to be gaming in bite size chunks, it covers the basics well enough.
The game is, pretty obviously, split into the two main activities, air hockey and bowling. Having never played a game in the fiercely competitive air hockey simulation genre, I was intrigued to see how this would work. The game promises smooth analogue control, which seems an odd feature to boast about and unfortunately, it turns out it’s anything but smooth. The mallet (official air hockey terminology!) jerks around the screen as if it has a sprained ankle. It tends to hop around the playing area instead of moving in a fluid motion like a human hand would.
To help you defend, at any time, you can hit circle and the mallet reverts back to a central position, which is a handy feature, allowing you to get in a better defensive position in the nick of time. However, because the mallet is simply floating in the air (with no hand holding it), you feel somewhat detached from the game and added to the jerkiness (if that’s a technical term), I couldn’t help from feeling somewhat underwhelmed. It’s like watching a poor game of air hockey as opposed to playing a poor game of air hockey.
The same can be, sadly, said of the bowling. Again, the bowling ball just floats in the air and then is propelled magically down the alley. In order to do so, you first position the ball with left or right, then the angle you want to release it at (hitting X at the appropriate time as an arrow swings from left to right) before finally pulling back the analogue nub and then flicking it forward to release. The only thing is, when you move the nub backwards, the floating bowling ball stays static and thus detracting from the experience even more. On the plus side the bowling alley is lovingly re-created in 3D, which is an impressive feat for a minis title.
In terms of game modes, you have the choice of a career mode (which alternates between bowling and air hockey) in which you come up against AI competitors, 2 player take-it-in-turns bowling (which adds a much needed competitive edge to the game) and Practise, which is self-explanatory. There isn’t anything here that breaks the mould, but then Arcade Air Hockey & Bowling never pretends to be something it isn’t. However, despite Arcade Air Hockey & Bowling’s humble ambitions, a change in music would be welcome or at least more songs included would be better as it grates over time.
- Bowling alleys and air hockey tables faithfully re-created.
- Fun in short periods.
- But very short periods only
- You never really feeling like you are in full control.
If you are playing this game on the PS3 and are in need of some bowling action, then save up the extra £2.90 and buy High Velocity Bowling. On the other hand, if you are playing Arcade Air Hockey & Bowling on the PSP in short bursts, then it is something to pass a few minutes. But with so many minis titles out there with an ever-increasing level of quality, it’s hard to recommend this title over others already available. At £3.49, it’s certainly affordable, but iffy controls and lack of connection to the action really hold this game back and the appeal wears off after a brief 10 minutes.