Strike it lucky withPBA Bowling Challenge

First impressions 

When Cayman had its first bowling alley on West Bay Road, in The Greenery plaza, my friends and I used to head there after going to the bars, and bowl until the wee hours. Remember those days?

I was going through a phase of acrylic nails that made it downright dangerous to stick my fingers in the holes of the bowling balls, so I would therefore grasp the ball with my two hands on either side, and swing it betwixt my legs, releasing it in a haphazard fashion; hoping that it would hit at least one of the pins. 

King’s Sports Centre now offers King Pin Bowling, and I am no longer sporting Freddy Krueger nails, so perhaps I’ll head down there one of these days to see if my aim is any better when I’m using the correct techniques. 

In the meantime, it might behoove me to become more familiar with the game through the PBA Bowling Challenge app, if for no other reason than I don’t even know how to score the game. I know what a strike is, and a spare, and I’m certainly au fait with a gutter ball, but beyond that, I haven’t a clue. 

This app is a free download, with in-app purchases available. Although I’m really not keen on the latter, as it can get expensive if you become addicted, I figured I’d give the bowling challenge a try.

Besides, when I was “bowling” all those years ago, it’s not like I joined a league, bought my own shoes and ball, and started wearing bright polyester shirts. I reckoned the odds were low that I’d end up getting a second mortgage so I could afford to keep playing. 

How it works 

When you open the app, it gives you the main menu on the left, offering “Play,” “Practice,” “Multiplayer,” and “Score Sheet.” To get a feel for the way the app works, you may want to try Practice mode first, unless you’re a devil-may-care, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kinda person.

Although the scores you get whenever you play practice games won’t be counted toward any scoreboards, that may not be a bad thing. Once you’re feeling confident enough with the controls, you can then go on to the real action. 

Your game begins with your ball in front of you, and the 10 pins in the distance. Before you begin, you’ll get simple instructions on how to position the ball, and then send it down the lane.

All you have to do is swipe it left or right, and then forward, to put it in motion. Keen bowlers will also be happy to know that they can “hook” the ball by turning their device, adding a bit more reality to the experience. 

Along the top of the screen are a lot of symbols with numbers beside them. The lightning bolt represents “energy” – needed to enter and participate in tournaments; the ticket stub keeps track of your “tickets,” which will allow you to purchase upgraded balls and other options; and the “gold pin,” which does the same, is more rare and valuable, giving you even more purchasing power in the app. Packs of gold pins can be replenished through in-app purchases. 

In the top right-hand corner you’ll see what appears to be a way of getting those gold pins for free. Tap it, and you’ll be taken to another screen, encouraging you to try a mess o’ other apps, and in return, they’ll give you gold pins. Will these be deals with the devil? Who knows until you try. You may be sorely tempted when you see the gorgeous “bling” balls on offer in the store. 

The bottom right-hand corner has icons that take you to information on your achievements, rankings, settings (you can choose to change the way you control the ball), and fairly detailed instructions on gameplay and what all the different symbols mean. You’ll also get further information on special balls available for purchase, including the Lightning Ball, Split Ball and Bomb Ball. Oo! 

Feeling confident? Now it’s time to play for real! Be a single player, or choose the Multiplayer mode, where you can invite friends or bowl against random players. Entry fees and payouts increase with player levels. 

When I tried it 

At the very beginning I could see that I was a much better virtual bowler than I was in real life, which had me suspecting that this app wasn’t really a true test of one’s skills. By the third or fourth game, however, ye olde wobbly ball began raising its ugly head, and I settled into a familiar game of random luck. 

When you swipe the ball to move it forward, the speed at which it’s moving will be displayed. It took me a bit of training to get the speed up. I could have sworn I was swiping in the same way each time, but apparently not. I had it limping along at about 8 miles per hour, before I managed to get it up to 16 miles per hour, which certainly made a greater impact on the pins. I even got a few strikes! 

Maybe it was time for me to get some virtual bowling shoes … 

Final thoughts 

Whether using this app will improve my actual bowling game, I have yet to discover, but it’s certainly lots of fun to play. I started off in “The Dive” bowling alley, and it wasn’t long before I wanted to upgrade my balls. I gave the Lightning Ball a try, and the Split. I could get used to all this help. 

It’ll probably be a nasty shock when I finally get round to King Pin Bowling at the King’s Sports Centre, and find that the balls won’t light up or split in two, so perhaps I’ll stick with the dream world of PBA Bowling Challenge, where in my mind, I’m the Roy Munson of the alley. 

PBA Bowling Challenge

  • Cost: Free (with in-app purchases)
Seller: Concrete Software, Inc.

  • Devices: iOS and Android

  • Rating: E for Everyone 


Great graphics and color. Lots of options. Free. 


Pesky in-app purchases. 


“The Dive” is the first bowling alley you’ll visit when you play a practice game.


Moving your device can help you put some spin on the ball, just like the professionals!


What’s the difference between this app and the real thing? Special balls!


When you get a strike, you’ll know about it.

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