Val-U-Ware’s Virtual Bowler 3D did little to prepare me for the actual bowling experience
I carefully read the packaging with regards to Val-U-Ware’s Virtual Bowler 3D – while much of the label was covered up by the “$.99 clearance” tag, I was able to read many of the marketing claims. This product was billed as “Realistic bowling action for your personal computer!” which implied – at least to me – that a week-long regimen of intense computer-assisted training would enable me to play in the professional leagues. In fact, my PC was considerably faster than the system requirements (Pentium 90), so I figured I would be able to rock the lanes many times faster than the software would conventionally allow.
Last night I figured I was ready to start small with the $15,000 state championship held downtown. I pulled up and strolled into that alley like I owned the place. My first impression was that the stench of cigarettes and stale beer was not accurately simulated within the software. In fact, the alley was filled with large women who had bright shirts and unusual hair, none of which were depicted within the game. They asked me if I qualified for the tournament and of course I did; I’d beaten every single opponent available and even won the “Val-U-Ware World Championship Cup,” which is quite large and difficult to get without bowling a near-perfect game against the dreaded “Mr. Pixel.” He’s the only player with an icon that sneers.
After I entered the tourney, that’s when things fell apart. Did you know that bowling requires special shoes? Or that you have to bring your own ball? Who would think to own your own ball? All the reporters who were there to cover the game found it amusing that I had to borrow an old one from the alley. There were three holes drilled into the ball, which I figured were not unlike the three buttons of my mouse.
After five of my ten opponents were done and bowled mostly strikes, it was my turn. I stood on the wooden floor and looked around at the big crowd and the cameras. It was all very nerve-wracking. Plus, I didn’t see any of the little gauges that lit up on my computer screen. What was I supposed to do? Just throw the ball at the pins?
Tensing my muscles, I reared back in order to hurl that sucker like a shellac torpedo. Nobody really explained to me that you were supposed to put your fingers in the holes, though. I don’t remember losing control of the ball because I was preoccupied falling face-first onto the floor, but on the news that night I saw the instant replay. The ball shot backwards like a rocket at the other players, who dove out of the way spilling beer in gracious amber arcs. With a loud thump the bowling ball ricochetted off of the center console and then shot over to clock a fat bowler in a red shirt right in the family treasure. It also took out a cameraman before rumbling to a stop by the soda machine.
I bowled a 24 and blamed it on the shoes. But between you and me? It was shoddy Val-U-Ware products that hurt my game. That’s all.
I’m aiming to suck it up and head straight to the nationals. Once you bowl a crap game like 24, you know you’re due. I just need to crank up the difficulty on my PC.
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