Matt Keller
16 Apr, 2006

Elf Bowling 1 & 2 Review

DS Review | An insight into Santa's sadistic anti-union activities.
We’ve been through a lot as reviewers at PALGN; some of us have over 100 reviews to our name, spanning 9 systems. We’ve always made a point of using as much of our scoring scale as we can – it’s gotten us into trouble at times, but we’re firm believers in 5/10 being average. Last year, we gave away our first 10/10 rating, to Resident Evil 4 (GameCube version). Today, we’ll be doing quite the opposite. Long term readers of PALGN may notice that a single rating on our scale has not yet been awarded to a game. That ends today.

In 1999, Internet advertising company NVision Design released a little viral Christmas card entitled Elf Bowling on their gaming portal NStorm, where Santa was getting his revenge on elves who had decided to strike by using them in place of pins in a game of ten pin bowling. The game rapidly made the joke email rounds, as was the style at the time, and grew in popularity. The creators of the game later sold up, and the rights to Elf Bowling went with the company. Yet, for some reason, 6 years later, Ignition Entertainment (much to the original creator's displeasure) has decided that this silly little flash game and its sequel were somehow suited to the Nintendo DS’ new touch-screen interface, and packaged the two for sale on Nintendo’s latest handheld.

Choosing between Elf Bowling 1 & 2 is like picking between a punch in the face or a kick to the nuts

What exactly is the inspiration for releasing a half-decade old Flash game on the Nintendo DS? Did someone at Ignition think that they could make a quick buck on those poor, uninformed parents at Christmas time? Why is it only Elf Bowling 1 & 2, when there are 6 games in the series that are all less than 4 Meg each? Did N-Storm expect them to pay more royalties for each game? More importantly, how in the hell did Elf Bowling 1 & 2 get through Nintendo’s supposedly strict approval process?

Elf Bowling was designed as a mini-game (in C++ in less than seven days, not Flash as we first thought) that takes no more than 2 minutes to figure out, play, and tire of. The game ran in a small window on virtually any PC at the time of production, so why Ignition felt it needed to come to the DS is well and truly beyond our plane of thinking. It plays as a standard bowling game, but there’s absolutely no depth to it. Simply tap the touch screen when the icon is over your desired throwing angle…and that’s it. To make it even worse, the outcomes of your throw are completely scripted, so there’s no way to do tricky shots to solve a 7-10 split. Put it this way – the bowling micro-game in Wario Ware Touched! has more possible outcomes than this game. There’s severely limited animation, the sprites are poorly drawn, and the elves’ voice samples (such as “Is that all the balls you have, Santa?”) are all muffled and nearly indistinguishable. It’s the best part of the package too, but that’s kind of like saying that the corny bits are the best part of a crap sandwich.

Santa approves of gratuitous elf nudity. Ever wonder why he's so jolly?

Elf Bowling 2, on the other hand, is doesn’t even provide a minute of anything that could remotely be described as entertainment – in fact, I’d wager it’d be the only videogame available in Hell, should you believe in the afterlife. It may not even fulfil the requirements of the definition of the word “game.” Elf Bowling 2 is a shuffleboard game – grab the elf’s underwear, pull it back (gratuitous elf nudity doesn’t seem to phase Nintendo), let it go, and hope he lands in the right spot. Of course, it never works that way…yet the AI player gets a score of 300 on every shot, no matter what, while your elf is more likely to slide over the board and be devoured by a shark. The graphics and sound in the second game are even worse than the first – totally mind-boggling.

The Elf Bowling games are so utterly simplistic, tedious and pointless that we are not sure if it should be legal to expect people to pay money for them. The fact that Ignition Entertainment thought that they could make money off such a piece of software is an insult to humanity. Nobody could possibly be stupid enough to pay money for this game. It makes me sad to think that perfectly good silicon was wasted on bringing this unfortunate piece of code to market. Elf Bowling 1 & 2 is, without a doubt, the single worst videogame released since PALGN began operating. Congratulations to Ignition for being the first to receive our lowest possible mark.
The Score
Elf Bowling 1 & 2 is nothing but a waste of perfectly good silicon.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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8 years ago
Great Review Matt icon_lol.gif icon_lol.gif

You can get it for $30 Australian at play-asia, just incase anyone is interested in experienceing the difference between a kick to the nuts and a punch in the face.
8 years ago
i've always wanted to try a game that was rated so poorly, just to see what i was missing out on. but this just makes me sick thinking about it. good review matt.
8 years ago
Good god, how did a crap game like that ever get released, definately something I appalled by.
8 years ago
I disagree with the score!

...it should have been lower
8 years ago
Smack a mole FTW,

review that instead!
8 years ago
it's not Smack A Mole, it's "Whac." If you can't get your hands on the DS version, try getting the GBA one icon_smile.gif
8 years ago
Wtf... DS Version? this game owned on the PC for a bit of fun but having to pay for it is quite sad. icon_sad.gif
8 years ago
Mitchacho wrote
it's not Smack A Mole, it's "Whac." If you can't get your hands on the DS version, try getting the GBA one icon_smile.gif
You know you should end up getting one of those games in the future, just showing us how 1337 you are. You never know, you might end up loving the game.
8 years ago
Looks great, Im going to pick up a copy for sure icon_lol.gif
8 years ago
click here wrote
I disagree with the score!

...it should have been lower
0.5 is the PALGN review system's bottom limit.
8 years ago
Well done Luke for managing to offload this code to someone else!

Matt - at least you didn't have to play it for long, since it's ll over in five minutes!
8 years ago
There are six games in the series.

Six? You have to be kidding me.
8 years ago
ZNMS wrote
There are six games in the series.

Six? You have to be kidding me.
I give them a few months before they release 3 & 4 then 5 & 6 after that, then they decide to release them all in the one cart...
8 years ago
Buy it and give it to someone you hate. icon_razz.gif
8 years ago
I think this comment from the Gamespot review sums it up pretty well

Charging money for two freebie PC games is morally reprehensible


there's more gameplay in the system's setup menu
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