I'm a very stupid fellow when it comes to buying videogames. For some reason, I'd rather buy a half-dozen shoddy titles for up to $5 each trying to find a game I can wring a few precious moments of enjoyment from, rather than plunk down over ten bucks on a classic with hours of replay value like Super Mario World or Street Fighter II.
Most of the time this means I'm stuck with a game that I play for ten minutes, get frustrated with, then look up on the web to see what I'm doing wrong and find exactly three game-footage pictures and not even a FAQ that explains what the buttons do.
But some days, I get lucky. Some days I almost find a sliver of an "open world sandbox-type experience" living inside a crappy "alternative-sports" cartridge about fishing or pool or snowboarding.
Or, indeed, about PROFESSIONAL BOWLING in the far-off mythic land of "Brunswick World."
The Man with the Plan (and that plan is "to bowl")
The first thing you see, after the Super Nintendo's traditional "6 screens of credits/design studio logos, which mask the game's load-time" is the main menu. The wallpaper below this (and all) game menus is an energetic purple-clad Billy Mays-looking fellow.
Billy Maybe-Mays is flinging an equally-purple bowling ball, and all of his fingers on his right (bowling) hand appear to be fused together into some kind of bowling flipper. Perhaps this kind of reconstructive surgery is standard amongst all "serious" bowlers; alternately the digitized photograph might just be a little shoddy there.
But wait! What's that first option? It doesn't say "Normal Game", "PRACTICE", or "HURT ME PLENTY", does it? No, indeed not! It says, "PLAYER SETUP." Oh man, do I get to customize my bowler?
YES! I get to customize my bowler!
In all seriousness, this is all I've been looking for: an immersive, imaginary world where I can take part in some key activity (in this case, bowling)...but I can take part in it as MY OWN PERSON.
I can stand, rough-hewn from the block of raw digital marble presented me, on my own two feet, and imagine my electronic avatar thinking to himself (or herself), "By God, I may only be an electronic simulacrum of life, but I'm going to bowl. I shall bowl like no electronic simulacrum of life has ever bowled, and when I am done, they will know that a MAN (or A WOMAN) has bowled here, today, and bowled well. I will have bowled lustily from the great lane of life, struck forth and left my indellible mark on this specially-waxed wasteland, and...hey, can I pick which color my shoes are?"
Yes, there are many options available: am I one of the dominant right-handed majority of my species, or am I an enigmatic, unknowable south-paw? Is my family name "One", and do all my buddies down at the lanes call me "Player"? Do I have a medical condition that requires me to manually descend my extra testicle during league play?
Also, what kind of bowling ball am I packing? Is a "16 pound quantum violet hook" really something you use in bowling, or did I store this game too close to my copy of Bass Masters Classic: Pro Edition and a fishing leur fell into this game's menu? Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure there was a 16 pound Quantum Violet Hook bolted to the outer hull of my spacecraft in Big Sky Trooper...
Well, anyway, before you can say "Rhino Plastic Sapphire", my eyes were drawn to the second option on the list: Change Clothes, you say? Don't mind if I do! Let's just see what the default outfit is 'round these parts...
Ug. Are you kidding me--Shirt Blue, Pants Black? What am I, an accountant who is required to wear his work attire even when bowling? Yeah, so he's got some red shoes to try to "zazz" things up a bit, but this won't do at all...let's see what I can do to really "customize" this poor shlub into an extension of my own personality...
Well! That's quite a bit snappier. We've lost those fade-into-the-background black slacks and thrown on a pair of red wowzers-trousers.
But unfortunately, due to some arcane rule which dates back to just after the founding of the Freemasons, I can't choose shoe color independantly from pants color...so if I want PANTS RED, I'm stuck with SHOES WHITE.
And I've spun the sartorial roulette wheel of bowling shirt fashion and arrived at the two-toned greatness of "SHIRT ORANGE GREY." Scientists believe this shirt represents two things: first, it is only a few hue-points different from "SHIRT ORANGE WHITE," which would make me look like a Luke Skywalker® - X-Wing© Fighter™ Flight Suit action figure.
Secondarily (and perhaps more importantly), "SHIRT ORANGE GRAY" never becomes wrinkled, or smells like second-hand cigarette smoke, spilled beer, or armpit-sogged body odor, no matter how many nights you bowl in it. But this preternatural cleanliness comes at a terrible price: in the owning bowler's attic lies, unseen to the world, another "SHIRT ORANGE GRAY." A horrible, disfigured, demonic and incredibly pungent "SHIRT ORANGE GRAY." Every nose-churning cigar smoke-ring belched out from the beefy car salesman at the lane next to you, each mug of foaming brew that was overturned onto you by a neighbor's careless elbow, every iota of perspiration which blossomed and evaporated inside the garment is reflected on this other "SHIRT ORANGE GRAY", rendering it hideous to behold and very smelly, indeed.
So instead of that, I went with "SHIRT YELLOW GREEN:" sprightly, summery, and the perfect counterpoint to the odd maroon-red leggings I'm wearing!
Now, I just have to pick a name and it's off for some bowlin' practice!
And what a name!
After crafting the perfect outfit, the rest came easily: my YELLOW GREEN RED WHITE bowler longs for a different era, a simpler era, a more polyesther era. Tragically, this era is denied him, by the highest battlement of all -- that of time itsself -- and this pain has rendered him a twisted and bitter man.
So, arise, BITTERDISCO, arise; tis time to externalize your pain, to fling 16 pounds of Rhino Plastic Sapphire down some heavily-waxed floor slats into a bunch of oddly-shaped wooden opponents, smoting their ruin on this battlefield, this blessed plot, this Brunswick-sanctioned Alley of the Bowl.
Well done, friend; well done. For today, you are a man.
In Brunswick World, Everything is Wonderful
Unfortunately, this is about as far as I got in Brunswick World Tourament of Champions, so I'll have to play the game a little more before I can write more about it.
But until then, here's an animated .GIF of the terrifying way that your bowler sloooooowly oozes across the lane as he lines up his shot, stretching and flexing his thighs in a manner that could charitibly be described as "hypnotically nightmarish."
— carlmarksguy, 2012-01-20