Wii Bowling Tips

Since I’ve had more free time than usual over the last couple of months, I spent some time with my Wii, and much of that has been in Wii Sports. I can’t seem to get the hang of boxing (actually, I’ve never lost any of the few bouts that I’ve had, but it seems like just flailing your arms about is enough to win and a lot of my punches don’t seem to register properly in the training modes), but I’ve gotten pretty good at the rest of the games and for some reason I’m particularly attached to bowling. When I first started the scores I got weren’t any better than I could achieve in real life, but over time I’ve been able to refine my skills and I’ve now had several perfect games. In the process, my approach looks a lot less like actual bowling, and I have to say that it does take some of the fun out of it, but nevertheless it’s nice to see a top score of 300.

As far as the other sports go, the only advice I can give is that practice makes perfect, so you’ll just need to keep at it. Also, sometimes nontraditional approaches may be helpful. For example, I’ve found that I often have better luck in batting practice when I’m sitting down and just swing with a flick of the wrist rather than standing with a traditional batting stance or even using a full swing. Also, there are plenty of other tips and videos available, and YouTube seems to be a good starting point.

Now, onto the bowling tips.

The Obvious Stuff

There really isn’t any huge secret to doing well. The most important thing to do is to figure out what works well for you and then keep doing that. As long as you are consistent, you should get repeatable results. Consistency includes:

  • Starting in the same position on the floor and with the same angle. Use the arrows on the floor to help ensure that you have the same position, and if you press “up” on the cross button then it will zoom in so you can fine-tune your position. Press “up” again to zoom back out.
  • Use the same delivery every time. This includes the point in your approach at which you start the swing, the speed of the swing, the amount of spin you put on the ball, and the point at which you release the ball.

Of course, this isn’t necessarily as easy as it sounds and I usually find some way to screw it up. Before I got my first perfect game (and since then as well), I threw many 279, 289, and even 299 point games where I left one pin standing that I had to pick up with a spare. However, through lots of trial-and-error, I have managed to isolate a pretty minimal set of actions that can help you out. Note that I’m right-handed, so if you’re a lefty then some of this may or may not be helpful (or at the very least you’ll probably want to reverse it).

Another somewhat obvious tip is that if your main goal is to get a perfect game, then it doesn’t make sense to continue playing a game if you’ve already blown it. In that case, you can press the “+” button on the controller to bring up a menu that allows you to start the game over without the need to finish the current game. Clearly, this is only something that you’ll want to do when you’re playing solo as it would probably be quite annoying to others if they were playing along. And even when you are alone it’s not very sportsman-like because if you do this it will be like you hadn’t played that game at all so it won’t have any potential to impact your score (and if you get a high enough rating, anything less than a perfect game can actually hurt your score).

Consistently Getting Strikes

One thing that I found was that I kept getting messed up on the approach. This wasn’t always my fault, as I noticed that sometimes the animation at the beginning of the approach got a little choppy and that threw off my timing. However, I discovered a little trick to completely eliminate that from the equation. If you hold down the “B” button (the trigger on the underside of the controller) then it will start the approach, but if you keep holding it down you will stop once you reach the scratch line. If you wait to make your swing until after you’ve stopped then you’ll completely eliminate any variability from the approach.

With the approach problems solved, it’s much easier to maintain consistency in the rest of the process. The easiest area in which to remain consistent is in your positioning and aim, since you can take your time and always make that exactly the same. I’ve found that works best for me (especially when I don’t have to worry about the approach, and when I use the swing technique outlined below) is to zoom in and align with the arrows on the floor. There are two rows of arrows, a continuous row further down the lane (i.e., higher up on the screen) and a second row closer to you that is split into the left and right sides. The perfect position for me is to align the left edge of the red stripe with the left edge of the leftmost arrow in the lower right group. I don’t change my angle at all, so I always keep the red stripe parallel with the gutters. When I’m done, the red stripe is pretty much aligned with the three pin (the first pin to the right of the head pin). Note that positioning can be sensitive, so it may take some adjustment to get it right, and you really do need to zoom in to ensure that your positioning is perfect.

The final piece of the puzzle is to ensure that your swing has a consistent speed, spin, and release. I can’t really separate these components easily, but what I do is to hold down the trigger until I have stopped at the scratch line, at which point my arm and the controller are pointing straight down and the front of the controller is parallel with my TV screen. Then, without moving my upper arm, I snap my forearm up until my hand is at my shoulder, and at the same time I twist my wrist so that the controller is turned 90 degrees and the face of the controller is perpendicular to the TV screen. I time it so that I start twisting my wrist at the same time I start raising my forearm, and complete the twist when my hand is at my shoulder. Also, at the same time my hand reaches my shoulder, I release the trigger. If everything is done correctly, the ball should end up spinning right into the one and three pins, and it should be a pretty explosive hit.

If you get the motion down, you should easily find yourself consistently scoring over 200, and I pretty frequently get at least a 279 and have gotten 300 several times. Of course, this doesn’t really look like real bowling, and you can even do it when sitting down which is even more of an abomination. Other than the thrill of getting a 300-point game, I actually prefer a more traditional process because it’s just more fun when you treat it like a sport than like a computer simulation where precision is important.

I should also point out that this technique doesn’t work nearly as well in the “power throws” training game, where you start with ten pins but then there are more pins added each throw until you hit 91 pins on the tenth roll. It does pretty well, but you’re not going to get an 890-point game using it. The best that I’ve gotten with this technique (in combination with the 91-pin strike mentioned below) is a 651.

Rolling the Ball Straight

Using a “normal” approach, I’ve found it very hard to get the ball to roll straight down the lane, and I’ve heard others mention this as well. For some reason, my natural swing puts spin on the ball even when I’m trying to consciously avoid it. However, I have come up with a modified version of the swing above that allows me to consistently throw the ball in a straight line so that it doesn’t veer off to one side as it goes down the lane.

In this case, since the ball is going to be rolling straight down the lane, you’ll want to make sure that your position is such that you’re pointing right at where you want the ball to hit. I still hold down the trigger until I stop at the scratch line with my arm pointed straight down and the face of the controller parallel to the TV, but then instead of bending my arm at the elbow I keep my whole arm straight and pull it up until my arm is pointing upward at about a 45-degree angle, and I release the trigger just after my arm has come to a stop without twisting my wrist at all. The whole motion looks kind of similar to the well-known salute to an infamous German World War II dictator, and if you do it right, then you should find that the ball will head straight down the lane.

Note that I generally use this technique for picking up spares, especially with the seven or ten pin right along the gutter, since it’s easier to get a strike when you do have spin on the ball.

The 91-Pin Strike

When you’re doing the “Power Throws” training session, you start with ten pins and then more pins are added for each additional roll until you have 91 pins on the tenth roll. In this game, your score is equal to the sum of all the pins that you knock down in each roll, but if you get a strike with any of your rolls, then you get twice as many points for that roll (e.g., if you get nine pins on the first frame then it’s worth nine points, but if you get all ten pins then it’s worth twenty points). As a result, getting all 91 pins in the last frame is worth 182 points, which can really boost your score, but that’s not an easy feat to accomplish even when using the technique outlined above. However, there is a cheat/Easter egg built into the game that allows you to get a strike on the tenth roll without even touching a single pin.

When you’re in the power throws game, there are rails along the sides to help prevent you from getting a gutter ball. However, with some careful positioning and the right throw, you can actually throw the ball so that it rolls down the top of the rail and stays on the rail the whole time, then it will count as a strike an you’ll get 91×2 points for that roll. Note that this only works on the tenth frame, so don’t waste your time trying it on the first nine.

The approach that I’ve found works best for this is to move all the way to the right until you stop. Then, move back one click to the left and press “A” to allow you to change the angle, and move two clicks to the right so that you’re angled slightly toward the rail. Then you can hold down the trigger until you stop at the scratch line and then swing your arm and try to put clockwise spin on the ball so that it will counter the natural tendency for the ball to curve back to the left. It may take some practice to get it right, since it’s easy to not put enough spin on the ball and have it fall off the rail before the end, and you can even put too much spin on the ball and have it fall off the rail in the other direction.

I don’t claim to have discovered this trick. I first saw it in a video on YouTube, and you can find an example at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTsjnjsO-E0.

The Bowling Robot

The ultimate in repeatability would be to build a robot to bowl for you, and actually that’s exactly what someone did. See http://www.battlebricks.com/wiigobot/index.html for a page detailing how someone built a Lego robot that is able to play Wii Sports bowling. There’s even a video showing it roll a perfect game (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUvind4t7Pk). This is an incredible feat, and it’s quite an innovative approach. If nothing else, it does show that if you’re able to deliver consistent throws then you really can get a perfect game.

One thought on “Wii Bowling Tips

  1. Is there another WII sports bowling game besides the one that comes with the WII unit? I know about the AMF & Brunswick but, I wondered if WII put out a Bowling only game.Thanks


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