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Best of Pam Droog

Gaming Guru


"Kingpin Bowling" Offers Fun to Spare

23 October 2005

I spent a good part of my childhood in various St. Louis bowling alleys, running around with other kids whose parents played on leagues a few nights a week. This was before automatic scoring and all the other fancy gizmos, so I'm talking about authentic 1950s-1960s lanes -- classic kitsch! As a result, you can imagine how glad I was to discover Kingpin Bowling video slots by IGT.

The game really captures the mid-century atmosphere and style, from free-form graphics to bright colors and more. The logo itself is perfectly 1950s, and so are the symbols including a bowling bag, shirt and shoes, plus fruit (cherries, oranges and watermelon) that's actually bowling balls. When three or more shirts come up on a played line, they turn around and reveal a cool Kingpin Bowling graphic on the back; the bowling bags shoot into the air then crash down on the ball that's revealed; and of course the shoes do a little dance.

The scatter symbol is a turkey that's actually a bowling ball, too. Why a turkey? I guess it's because "gobble" rhymes with "wobble" and that's what the pins do when they're hit by the ball.

The music is straight from the 1950s as well: Jerry Lee Lewis' immortal "Whole Lotta Shakin Goin On" -- referring to the way the pins shake and knock each other down, I guess.

Kingpin Bowling features three bonus rounds. The Scatter Bonus occurs when two or more turkeys land on reels 2, 3, and 4. They transform into 10 pins at the end of a lane and you win the total of all the knocked-down pins. If you get a strike you earn up to five times your initial bet.

The Gobble Wobble Bonus starts when three "Gobble Wobble" symbols land on reels 1, 2, and three of a played line. A grid appears revealing 40 pins. Pick one pin and it starts to wobble, knocking down the next pin, which knocks down the next pin, which knocks down ... well, you get it. Each knocked-down pin awards a credit value. The round ends when there are no more pins.

The Trophy Challenge bonus is initiated when three animated bowling-trophy figurine symbols land on reels 2,3 and 4 of a played line. Hit the "Bowl" button and the game begins! A complete line of a bowling game that is, with 10 full frames at the "Kingpin Alley" where you get two chances per frame to bowl a strike. The action moves pretty fast, since you don't have to buy any beer or tease your fellow bowlers. During the course of the game, you earn credits for every pin that's knocked down, and spares and strikes are scored just like you're bowling for real, with 10 pins plus the next roll for a spare and 10 plus the next two rolls for a strike. If you bowl a strike or spare in the 10th frame you get a third throw.

Kingpin Bowling is a great example of a game-within-a-game, something that IGT truly excels at. So next time, instead of going to a smoky, noisy bowling alley for a little fun, go to a smoky, noisy casino where you can bowl a few lines without lugging around a big old bowling ball, and maybe "strike" it rich (groan)!

Until next time, enjoy Life Among The Slots!