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Review: Is Premium Bowling Worth Buying for the Oculus?

Last Updated on February 10, 2023 by Michael Brockbank

Bowling games are one of my go-to’s for any physical platform. In fact, Premium Bowling was the first game I bought for the Oculus Quest 2. And lately, I’ve been playing a lot of it. But is the game worth buying for your VR headset?

Aside from a few issues here and there, I’d say, “yes.”

What is Premium Bowling?

Premium Bowling is exactly as you’d expect for VR: a bowling game. With the capacity for single offline player to multiple online player modes, it’s a game for many people to enjoy simultaneously.

One of the great things about the game is that you can either play while standing stationary or by approaching the lane as you would in real life. This is great for people who don’t have a lot of room to walk around while wearing the Oculus.

Though, you’ll get more of a workout if you’re able to approach the lane as you would in a real bowling alley.

Whether you just want to bowl a few frames by yourself or want to compete online for the top scores, there are plenty of ways to play.

What Can You Expect Out of Premium Bowling?

High Score in Bowling

As you’d expect, it’s a bowling game. Thus, the whole point is rolling a ball to knock down the pins. It’s actually one of my favorite activities in real life. And bowling is one of the first games I bought for the Wii back in the day.

Though, the bowling game that came with Wii Sports was probably the best out of the different titles I bought. Especially when it came to logical physics.

So, what was the experience like with Premium Bowling on the Oculus?

Good Sound Quality

The first thing I noticed in Premium Bowling was the sound quality. I’ve always been impressed with the speaker system in the Oculus, and this game sounds great.

In fact, there are a lot of good soundtracks across several of the alleys available.

Of course, the ball rolling down the alley and the clatter of pins rings out pretty nice, as well.

Talk to Others or Mute Everything

Whether you’re playing online or offline with a friend, you are able to mute everyone else as well as yourself in the game. This is quite handy while playing online as there are a lot of people who shouldn’t really have a microphone.

Not to mention that you can kind of listen in on what’s going on inside someone’s house. Well, as long as they are somewhat loud. The microphone is designed to only pick up the player. But sometimes, you can clearly hear kids, pets, and other commotion in the background if it’s loud.

Or, you can simply talk to other players and make a few online friends.

Decent Game Physics

One of the things I focus intently on in any bowling game is the physics behind the ball and pins. I’ve played some that were just janky and rough. However, Premium Bowling has good game physics.

It’s not perfect by any means. After all, it’s not often that I can send pins sliding back up the alley after rolling a 30 mph ball in real life. That happens quite a bit in this game.

Still, compared to many other bowling games I’ve played stretching many consoles, Premium Bowling is probably among the better in terms of actual physics.

Plenty of Great Players on Premium Bowling

If you strive for competitive play, you can pit your skills against others from around the globe. You can score in the top 100 for both single high scores as well as high series.

I’m constantly trying to get my name on the scoreboard every time I play. But it’s not easy as there are some great virtual bowlers out there on the Oculus.

In any case, it’s a nice addition that can take the experience a bit further than just bowling against yourself.

Something else I’d like to point out are the weekly and daily record scores. That way, you can keep track of beating your own highs while competing to take over someone in the top 100 during any given week.

Several Themed Alleys to Choose From

Competition Alley

Premium Bowling has quite a few themed alleys to choose from. You can play on everything from a retro-styled alley to something more modern.

My favorite is the two-lane competition alley. Between having fewer people to interrupt and a great soundtrack, I always seem to play better on that one.

What’s great is that the developer is constantly adding more to the game. I’ve seen two new alleys since I bought the game several months ago.

Slow-Mo Replays

If you’re into slow-motion replays, you can always take a look every time you roll the ball to see how the pins are struck. I suppose this might help people learn where to aim according to their own techniques, or perhaps it’s just something cool to watch.

I haven’t spent too much time watching replays, but some of the more amazing shots were fun to see in slow motion. For instance, it was nice to watch my ball pick up an impossible split.

Lose Visuals Periodically

Sometimes while I am playing, I’ll lose the game and the Oculus will revert to the black-and-white sensor for a brief moment. It started doing this about a couple of updates ago, and I’m not 100% sure why.

I don’t know if it’s the game or the Oculus unit itself. It doesn’t seem to happen when I’m in my home screen.

If I figure out what is causing the visual interruption, or figure out it’s not part of Premium Bowling, I’ll update this post accordingly.

If you have a similar problem, feel free to comment. I’d love to know how to fix the issue.

Customizing Your Bowling Ball

You can customize your ball in Premium Bowling. You can change the smoothness, weight, and several other factors that change how it behaves while rolling down the alley.

Although there are several nice designs you can choose from, you can also import your own images for customizing the ball’s appearance. It’s a bit tricky, as you need to use the proper image size to wrap the ball correctly.

Customizing Your Ball

However, it’s kind of cool once you figure out which images work best. I have bangal and white tiger-striped balls.

When customizing the ball’s appearance, you’re the only one who can see the graphic. Everyone else bowling with you will see the ball you used to edit the image.

Customizing the Lane Oil

If you’re planning on going hardcore with your bowling, you can customize how the oil is placed on the alley while you bowl. This will affect how the ball behaves after it starts rolling down the alley, just like in real life.

Personally, I’ve set it once and have never adjusted it since. But the option is there if you want to dive into the mechanics a bit and come up with a playing strategy.

It might be worthwhile if it can affect how you play if you plan on competing.

Premium Bowling Has League Play

Although I haven’t tried league play yet, the option is available. So, unfortunately, I’m not exactly sure how the leagues work in the game.

It’s on my list of things to try out, and I only mention it just in case someone wanted to know if it was possible. As soon as I dive into a league, I’ll update this review.

One or More Oculus Devices

When playing against friends or family in the house, you can either share a single Oculus or play with independent devices. Though, I suggest playing in different rooms or perhaps muting each other.

Personally, I think it’s a bit of a pain to switch back and forth. But if you only have one device, at least you can play multiplayer.

How Does Premium Bowling Compare for Fitness?

Perhaps one of the biggest reasons why I own and play certain game systems is to help gamify fitness. After all, it’s part of what ColoradoPlays does on a regular basis.

Although Premium Bowling doesn’t have the intense calorie burn as other games I’ve played, it still ranks up there with a nice, 3.5 mph walk. Plus, I just think it’s fun to play.

Below is the data collected while playing Premium Bowling. It’s based on the calorie burn data from my Fitbit Charge 5, which I found to be quite accurate in my case.

To put the burn per minute into perspective, I burn about 1.4 calories per minute just by being alive. Everyone burns calories at a different rate sitting idle depending on physiology, size, and gender. This means you’re burn rate will probably be quite different from my own.

Unfortunately, I am unable to play for more than 20 minutes at a time thanks to my glasses fogging up. I’ve tried several “tips,” and none have worked thus far except for the fogging spray for skiers.

It gives me an additional 10 minutes before I can’t see.

Anyway, I track activity according to my heart rate, total calorie burn, and calorie burn per minute. It’s a bit of an adventure getting the wrist weights on over top of the Oculus controllers, though.

The Difference Between Weighted and Not

I played Premium Bowling while wearing 2-pound Spri wrist weights on each arm and then without. The reason why I burn fewer calories while wearing weights is that my rate of movement is slightly slower.

This is because my arms have to adapt to the extra weight. In other words, I can’t move my arms as fast while rolling the ball.

So, I’ll get slightly less cardio activity while wearing the weights, but I’ll improve muscle fibers. And yes, a single pound will make all the difference while performing any activity.

Would I Recommend Buying the Game?

For $20, Premium Bowling on the Oculus Quest is not that bad of a deal. Especially if you’re already into bowling, to begin with. From the different alley designs to multiplayer competitive play, it’s just a good game all around.

As I said, the only issue I have is periodically losing my view. But I am leaning toward that being a problem with the Oculus and not the game.

Sure, it’s not the most intense exercise game on the Oculus. However, it has a lot of options and customization that can keep you occupied for quite a while.

If you’re an achievement hunter, you’ll unlock quite a few while playing Premium Bowling. These achievements are then sent to the Oculus app on your phone so you can share and view them at any time.

My latest achievement was hitting 2200 Ranking Points. I had a really good game, recently.

To make a long story short, yes, I would recommend buying Premium Bowling if you’re into the sport or just looking for something fun to do with friends and family.

It would make a fun family night, actually.

What’s Your Favorite Bowling Game?

Out of all of the bowling games I’ve played over the years stretching across decades of consoles, I have to say that Premium Bowling is probably my favorite. A close second would have to be bowling that is featured in Wii Sports.

Though, I’ll continue to try as many as I can find. What can I say? I really like to bowl.

Do you know of another bowling game on the Oculus that is better? What is your favorite bowling game aside from playing real life?

Michael Brockbank
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Michael Brockbank

Michael developed ColoradoPlays to help various charities through his favorite pastime. Since then, the blog and Twitch channels have donated several hundred dollars to Extra Life, Geeks of Grandeur and Operation Supply Drop, to name a few.