GAME REVIEW | Rolling For Pins & Love in "Date Night Bowling"
Serenity Forge has the knack to create unique dating sim experiences in a sea of many. 2020’s Half Past Fate demonstrated their talents, as they combined classic point-and-click gaming to the art of wooing your 2D waifu/husbando. This year, they’ve gone down a different alley to showcase the art of romance; specifically, a bowling alley! But does Date Night Bowling offer plenty of ways to serenade your lover of choice, or does it roll one too many gutterballs to make it a frustrating affair?
Played either solo or in two-player mode, Date Night Bowling pairs you and another for a game of ten-pin. The story goes that you’re meeting up for a speed dating event, only instead of a timer, you’ll need to play a full string to get to know your partner. In-between bowls, players will also have to take part in mini-games that better your chances at the game of love. Impress the other player, and a second date will be in the cards; bore, and you’ll scare your opponent away.
The bowling aspect of Date Night Bowling is pretty standard. Those who have ever played a bowling title on the NES will know the drill: line up your ball, angle it, give it a spin, and roll it at a respectable speed. It’s a very simple mechanism to play through, although one must pay attention to the stats of the character you’ve chosen. Some may need a little extra push of speed, and others might require a lighter ball or their angles tweaked. Pay attention well, and one will have no issue mastering the bowling elements.
It’s when you get into the mini-games when the challenges become a little tougher. Chosen at random, players will have to swoon their partners-in-the-making with dancing, singing, or becoming a crane game master. Other times you’ll have to listen to their conversations, pick the right food or drink, and even toss popcorn in their mouth with precision. The better you are at these mini-games, the more your level of chemistry will rise; fail, and watch those levels plummet!
One of the nice things about Date Night Bowling is how one can mix and match between the couples-to-be. You can have both opposite and same-sex pairings with anyone, which can result in different kinds of conversations popping up and — in some cases — some pretty unique discoveries about your character and who you’re playing against. All of it is presented with the right amount of humor and heart, with geeks, cool peeps, and hipsters mixing things up in fun and interesting ways. Best of all, the inclusive elements of the game do not feel shoe-horned in in the slightest; quite the contrary, these characters and their discussions feel wonderfully natural from start-to-finish!
Each round of bowling can go by in a flash, with it taking about 10-15 minutes to play with either an AI or a second player. (Playing merely solo, which helps you to unlock the other characters to place in the dating mode, will take about 5-7 minutes.) As such, Date Night Bowling makes for a good quick time-killer either alone or with friends. Players can also mix things up with slippery lanes, harder opponents, and different kinds of balls to see the different experiences they’ll have.
However, the downside of the game is that it lacks enough alleys to choose from. Only two lanes can be played as of this writing, and it’s not easy to differentiate between the two of them. Also irksome is the game’s soundtrack, which gets repetitive quickly. (The lack of talking bushes is also rather disappointing.)
- Fun bowling mechanics
- Cute mini-games
- Humorous dialogue
- Only two lanes to play in
- Music can get repetitive
Date Night Bowling is a fun ice-breaker for friends or even blind dates (if they’re cool with you dragging a laptop or Switch around). The bowling mechanics are well-tuned, and the mini-games are both adorable and tricky. While it may never take the crown from Wii Sports as the best bowling simulator around, Date Night Bowling would rather win your heart than your wrist.
Promotional consideration provided by Colby Totorici of Tinsley PR. Reviewed on the PC via Steam. Check out my interview with Serenity Forge about Date Night Bowling!