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HyperBowl

21 May 2013

HyperBowl game review

The original game, which can still be found at venues like Dave and Buster's, featured a real air-supported bowling ball that acted as a trackball controller to roll the ball in six fantasy 3D worlds - an otherwordly Classic lane, a serene Forest lane, an ancient Rome lane, a High Seas lane taking place on a rocking ship, the steep streets of San Francisco, and the traffic and bright lights of Tokyo.

HyperBowl is a licensed mobile (iOS and Android) reimplementation of the original HyperBowl attraction game introduced at the Moebius-designed Airtight Garage arcade in the Sony Metreon in 1999.

HyperBowl::By Technicat, LLC HyperBowl::By Technicat, LLC HyperBowl::By Technicat, LLC HyperBowl::By Technicat, LLC HyperBowl::By Technicat, LLC

HyperBowl screenshots

Unlike a typical bowling game where you aim and launch the ball, HyperBowl requires the player to be the ball, constantly rolling and steering the ball until the ball arrives at the pins, rolls into a gutter area, or the game times out after 24 seconds.

Bowling up the hilly streets of San Francisco would require some strenuous rolling and unsightly body wiggling (it's no coincidence that HyperBowl at the Airtight Garage was located next to a bar). Phil Chu, principal of Technicat, LLC, worked on the original HyperBowl team in 2001, and immediately thought of HyperBowl when investigating the Unity game engine for iOS development, thinking that the aspect ratio of the iPhone screen matched the tall projection screen of the original game, and swiping a touch screen would be an effective substitute for the original bowling ball controller.

So Phil contacted his old employers at Hyper Entertainment, who were equally enthused by the prospect of deploying HyperBowl on more platforms and granted Phil a license allowing him to incorporate the original HyperBowl art and audio assets into a new Unity implementation of the game.

That was five years ago. Phil tested the swiping control in a simpler bowling game called Fugu Bowl, then spent six months migrating the original HyperBowl art and audio assets into the Unity game engine.

since then Phil has gradually released all of the original lanes, and a few new ones like a snowpark lane. The lanes have been released individually as free ad-supported lanes on the App Store (HyperBowl Classic, HyperForest, HyperBowl rome... ) and included in a paid app called HyperBowl.

Once the iOS version was up and running, it was straightforward to port to Unity Android, for deployment on Google Play and devices such as the Kindle Fire, Nook Color and Tablet, and the Nabi tablet. For Android, there is just HyperBowl Lite and HyperBowl Pro, the former free and ad-supported.

The iOS version is integrated with Game Center, providing a leader board for each lane and a combined leaderboard for the entire game, along with achievements for rolling spares and strikes and consecutive strikes (known in bowling as a Double, Triple, Turkey, Wild Turkey and so on)The swipe-the-screen controls allow the player to swipe up to push the ball forward, but also left and right to move the ball sideways, and even swipe down the screen to roll the ball backwards.

One trick - longer swipes results in more force imparted to the ball. And there's an undocumented gimmick (only on iOS right now) - shake the device to randomly switch the bowling ball texture. Another tip: in the San Francisco lane,Reimplementing HyperBowl in the Unity game engine allows for the incorporation of more modern game engine features.

For example, the Classic lane now has bump-mapped walls, which wasn't the case in the original game. And the Rome lane has some nice particle flame effects (courtesy of the Real Flame package on the Unity Asset Store).

The new Snowpark lane (the environment also taken from the Asset Store, has lens flare, which wasn't an option in the original game.

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