Arcade Air Hockey & Bowling is the latest casual PSP MiniS title by Icon Games Entertainment, who brought us the simple yet enjoyable Arcade Darts Mini. This time around, you get to play the popular activities as suggested by the title: air hockey and bowling. So does this title warrant your time, and more importantly, money? Find out in this review.
If you know how your typical bowling game works on your smartphone, you’ll likely feel right at home here. You aim the ball with the d-pad, set the location with X, then again to set the angle of your approach (holding R here slows that reticle down), and finally, instead of hitting X to set your power, you use the analog stick and draw it down and then push forward. This is unique to the PSP for this style of games, and it allows you to add some curve to your throw. Admittedly it is hard to be very precise on the PSP’s analog nub, but since the game can also be played on the PS3 it is much easier with a Dualshock 3 controller.
The physics seem realistic enough, though the pins do feel a bit bottom heavy. Attaining the perfect 300 score will definitely take some practice, however. The bowling takes place in a nicely-rendered bowling alley, complete with other lanes and some fake arcade cabinets in some locations. After bowling a frame, a replay of your shot is displayed from three different camera angles. This is a nice touch that you might not expect to see in a Mini title.
Air Hockey is the other activity featured in this title. It is essentially pong, but there are actually rules that must be followed. Each new game also starts off with a face-off, which is where air hockey gets its name from after all. The table that you play on is actually surrounded by that same bowling alley you can see in the bowling portion of the game, again nicely rendered in 3D space. The graphics engine used here appears to be the same as what was used in Arcade Darts, and is impressive especially for a Mini title.
There are good sound effects here as well, though nothing beyond what you’d expect in a game like this. Bowling pins fall, pucks hit mallets, the crowd cheers and jeers. The ringtones that occasionally play are a nice touch and when you first hear them you may think someone’s phone is ringing in real life. There are also unlockable rewards for each game, such as new bowling balls or mallets. You can earn these by playing the surprisingly robust tournament modes.
In the end, if you are looking for a nice, cheap 2-in-1 arcade pack for your PSP when you have a few minutes to spare, this is definitely the game for you. The bowling is challenging, the air hockey is fast-paced, there is plenty to unlock, and the graphics are well-done. For $3.99/€3.99, you can definitely get your bowling alley fix in a jiffy.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
Great graphics for a Mini title.
Plenty of things to unlock adds to replayability.