Game Reviews

Extreme Lawn Bowls

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| Extreme Lawn Bowls
Extreme Lawn Bowls
| Extreme Lawn Bowls

More commonly the refined outlet for your average pensioner, lawn bowls isn't exactly the most glamourous sport.

Few are the times you see teenagers being moved on by the police because they've got their set of balls out in someone's front yard. Well, legally anyway.

As delicate as its balls may be, lawn bowls has been given a high energy makeover by developer Mediatronic to great effect. Humour, spot-on controls, and a generous application of polish makes Extreme Lawn Bowls a title worth touching.

Jack be nimble, Jack be quick

The game follows the basic structure of lawn bowls, although the rules have been stripped back a touch to accommodate a faster pace. Your goal is to roll balls called bowls down a run, the idea being to get them as close to the target jack bowl as you can.

Success comes from balancing attack moves - smacking your rival's bowls out of contention, for instance - with defensive ones. Each turn requires skill in rolling the bowl, as well as tactics in deciding whether to take an offencive or defencive position.

The controls are especially simple: placing your bowl's starting point takes a tap at the bottom of the screen, after which you swipe up to roll. You can also add a spin to the bowl by tipping your handset: it's more effective when the pace is slow.

Laughing up the lawn

The longer the swipe, the more power put behind the shot. With the jack's starting position moving from one round to the next, this is the crux of the game. Winning generally comes from successfully judging just how hard to launch your bowl.

Special moves mix up the formula. This is where the game's arcade approach - each character coming with his or her own unique, distinct personality - is really put in motion.

Father DB's Holy Ghost bowl, for instance, rolls through any others on the green, helping it get to the jack without interruption. These abilities can only be triggered, however, when you've shown enough skill.

Extreme Lawn Bowls rewards each and every effort - whether that's perfectly guiding a bowl so that it nudges sides with the jack or successfully blasting an opponent's best placed bowl out of contention.

By playing the game with both finesse and intelligence, you stand a greater chance of being able to deploy your special move at a critical moment.

Party in the park

Perhaps most impressive, however, is to watch these close encounters in contrast to more bombastic multiplayer tussles. With up to six players in a match (either human or CPU controlled), each bowling three bowls each, these contests are less a case of skill than luck - but are no less fun for it.

The jack quickly becomes surrounded by bowls of every colour: getting to it is often the result of a lucky ricochet or two. With so many competitors, you can't help but get into the game, even if the result - the three closest players all picking up a point - is usually impossible to call until the very last moment.

The only downside is that matches are restricted to a single device. With no wi-fi or Bluetooth options, Extreme Lawn Bowls really misses out on serving up some supreme multiplayer action.

Regardless, Extreme Lawn Bowls rolls through this shortcoming to deliver a package that is tricky and titillating at the same time. Almost perfectly balanced, it's about as close to a top score as you can get.

Extreme Lawn Bowls

With bags of character and play modes aplenty, Extreme Lawn Bowls manages to bring a comic edge to the sport, without leaving it devoid of skill
Keith Andrew
Keith Andrew
With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font. He's also Pocket Gamer's resident football gaming expert and, thanks to his work on, monitors the market share of all mobile OSes on a daily basis.