Bury the Shovelware: Elf Bowling 1 & 2

It's Christmas Eve, and Santa has come a little early. But apparently we've all been very terrible, for there exists a gift far worse than coal. In fact, coal seems downright awesome compared to this. After all, it's flammable. I am being utterly sincere when I say that I would much rather play Cake Mania 2 than this pile of reindeer droppings.


Elf Bowling 1 & 2 shares the same developer and publisher: Ignition Entertainment. A quick scan of their products page shows a great diversity in games. Notably but understandably missing is this game. It's difficult to comprehend the fact that the same resources which gave us the excellent and underrated Mercury Meltdown Revolution are also responsible for Elf Bowling 1 & 2. The company also published Metal Slug 7 in North America.

The Critics Said ...

Metacritic is a great tool to use when I determine the critics' reception of a game for this series. I've referenced the bottom of the list before. According to the "Index of Nintendo DS Game Reviews by Score" page, the worst-received game for the DS is Deal or No Deal with a metascore of 17. Yet Elf Bowling for the DS manages to do that 5 points better -- err, worse -- with a metascore of 12. Why it doesn't appear on the list is because it only contains four reviews and five are needed to appear on the grand tally. The four critics that did review Elf Bowling (the poor, poor souls) are all fairly consistent in stating that this game is the suck.

Rap Sheet

  • What's the intro for Elf Bowling, you ask? Why, it's three elves singing "elf, elf, baby." EPIC FAIL. Actually, this isn't quite a fail. It's way too weird. There's no music in the background, the animation is really disturbing, and they randomly stop singing -- no, chanting -- "elf, elf baby" to giggle and make flatulence noises. This is more of an epic weird.

  • This is awful. As in putrid. This is worse than one of those idiotic games you see in Flash banner ads. This is man's inhumanity to man. The only good thing to come from this game is that I suddenly have a craving to play Wii Sports bowling.

  • NOO! I let the DS sit open with the game running while I wrote a note down, and the elf pins once again started chanting "elf, elf, baby." Guess what song will be playing in my nightmares tonight?

  • There's no way to quit a game! I'm forced to play through all 10 frames in order to get back to the menu and try the other "game" (which is apparently a loosely-defined term in this instance). I can't take anymore after the 6th frame and I reset my DS.

  • Disappointed with Elf Bowling? No worries, this DS card contains the riveting sequel: Elves in Paradise. Here, it's shuffleboard instead of bowling. Oh, and it's a tropical theme. Oh, and the ELVES ARE WEARING SPEEDOS. Run. Run as fast as you can.

Silver Lining


Our Deduction

My thoughts tend to border on incoherent nonsense, as even the most insignificant and terrible game can lead me to a lengthy rant about something vaguely related. But this game is like being smacked over the head with a frying pan. And not in the funny cartoon sort of way, where you grow a tall lump out of your head while birds or stars circle above you. No, this is like walking up to your friend and clobbering him or her atop their skull with an actual frying pan. They'd probably suffer a concussion and just be really, really out of it.

That's the feeling I'm left with after playing this game. It's just complete and utter "WHY?" At least it can't get worse than this. Oh wait, yes it can.

In gaming, the term shovelware refers to any game in which time and effort were eschewed in favor of turning a quick profit. Bury the Shovelware takes a closer look at these titles, typically those that inhabit the lower end of metascores. It attempts to: 1) find out where and how the developer went wrong 2) identify common traits present in most shovelware 3) measure how long the game can be suffered.