When it comes to the PC platform, there are not that many bowling entries that make the cut. Most of the Triple-A titles are on consoles; those that rarely do make it to Windows are severely lacking in graphics, sound, controller support, customization, and control scheme. For all intent and purpose, great bowling sagas that are common on consoles are virtually non-existent on the PC.
On the flip side of this coin, the zombie genre has outlived its welcome and usefulness. After all, there really isn't much you can do with an undead entity that is constantly misrepresented in all walks of media life. Theoretically, a zombie should move slow as hell from rigor mortis and lack an appetite for eating anything, let alone brains since it stays in a constant state of decay. Of late it has become the go-to crutch in the gaming industry for a quick payout of rehashed flagship titles, spin-offs, and copycat clones that give little to no intrinsic value other than beating a dead horse.
Having said that, it is an outright shame that bowling has to lower itself into the zombie genre to attract any type of attention or relevance outside of avid players. It's an unwelcomed entry when this type of mashup is created by developers solely for profit, which is the vibe that Zombie Bowl-O-Rama gives off once the title credits show up.
Incomplete Grindhouse fare, here we go!
The end of disco era permeates as zombie madness consumes each frame of the match. Latent repetition is the buzz word here, from the patiently waiting hordes of zombies posing as traditional bowling pins to the ever present random obstacles a zombie opponent will throw your way sporadically. By the fifth frame, everything about the title's functionality is indirectly memorized, whether or not intentional. This sports monster crossover title is a sordid affair that works in principle, but fails to execute the fundamental bowling principles that are commonplace for any entry in the genre. More so, it caters way too prominently to the zombie side of things than to the physical bowling mechanic itself.
And something is very, very, very wrong with that picture on a sports title. The actual play structure is too easy even for the greenest of novices and lacks the traditional rules of the bowling genre in favor of "special moves" and "power-ups" that fail to challenge any skill of players. Also, the simple but effective nanny controls fail to support controllers. Dealing with the kindergarten control scheme could have been passable had the illusion of a challenge been present with controller support. The ease of access of getting consecutive strikes gets boring real quick, real fast; by the end of the game there is a melancholy feeling of being cheated out of league greatness due to the lack of struggle in achieving a win against the zombie horde. Having to replay the same opponent and characters does nothing for morale, either.
Long story short, Zombie Bowl-O-Rama is a very basic, but simplistic point and click zombie competition that feels as if the bowling mechanism component was nothing more than an incomplete side story afterthought. The repetitive cut scenes of the zombie pins reorganizing after each roll down the lanes doesn't help the appeal factor, either. For the record, there is no official story mode, even though options for playing a human or the computer exist. There are no satisfactory achievements, as most are already given or easily obtained after playing one match. Sadly, Zombie Bowl-O-Rama has all the potential makings of a decent bowler platformer but lacks the emphasis on the sports collaborative perks that modern contemporary peer entries deliver on. Don't get the balls in the gutter just yet; there is some unlockable content to be had. There are plenty of bowling balls and custom avatars to choose from before going into the first frame as well. However, there remains nothing noteworthy to provoke repetitive playing to achieve such a reward, as rewards virtually mean nothing in the grand scope of things.
Even the "special moves" and "power-ups" that are sporadically utilized by the player and/or the opponent are easily attainable by zig-zagging through the lane for instant pick-up. The cause and effect reaction of using these does nothing but make the next frame slap-stick unfunny comedy.
To its credit, Zombie Bowl-O-Rama attempts to give a tease with a weird trophy award system, yet no ranking or scoreboard allows you to enter a hall of fame, or achieve any type of competitive status by previously existing scoring. In addition, upgrades and perks, such as location changes to new bowling alleys, or even a circuit style mode are non-existent. What you see on the frame is what you get, no more and no less. Pretty boring after the initial newness wears off.