Submission #7679: ShesChardcore's NES Championship Bowling in 03:03.35

(Link to video)
Console Nintendo Entertainment System Emulator Bizhawk 2.8
Game Version unknown Frame Count 11019
ROM Filename Championship Bowling (USA).nes Frame Rate 60.0988138974405
Branch Rerecord Count 1044
PowerOn Authors ShesChardcore
Submitted by ShesChardcore on 9/6/2022 1:36:43 PM

Submission Comments
This submission is for Championship Bowling for the NES. Bowling games have a tendency to be janky, due to it being impossible to recreate physics of bowling due to the large number of variables, but for an NES game, it's not terrible.
Due to the recently relaxed rules regarding triviality (including the deletion of a part of the old rules related to bowling specifically) I felt it was time to knock this one out for TASmania.
I had a pretty successful bowling career in real life. Peaked at a 217 average, multiple 300 games, various league/tournament wins etc. And I've always been drawn to bowling video games because of it. For a 1989 NES game, the physics are... okay, I guess. There's no ball deflection off the pins, no breakdown of the oil pattern, the lane is too wide (you can actually throw a ball straight from the starting position and take out the back row in this game which is impossible IRL) and there's very little pin action to speak of.
One thing it does get right is the basic physics behind how a ball hooks, which (there will be a quiz on this later) is due to friction. As the ball travels down the lane, it rotates on its axis through the front part of the lane, where most of the oil is with the oil meant to reduce friction so the ball doesn't hook immediately. When the ball exits the oil, it reaches a dry part of the lane and that axis rotation generates friction between the coverstock and the lane. This friction causes the ball to hook, which is desirable in real bowling as better entry angles into the 1-3 pocket leads to more strikes, because the ball will deflect only very slightly and drive through the pins. A typical good strike has the ball only touch the 1-3-5-9 pins and the pin action does the rest.
Basically, throwing a ball harder will make it hook less as it will have less time to read the friction at the end of the oil pattern. Throwing it slower will make it hook more for the inverse reason. This game does that pretty well.
Unfortunately for us, the difference in speeds is staggering in this game, with the top 3 power choices (full, -1, -2) being subtantially faster than the 4th one (-3) to the tune of like 80 frames. This means we should only be throwing shots that utilize the top 3 power options, which also means we have to move further to get into position. This is still faster than any alternative.
We also can't just throw the same shot over and over again. The game is "seeded" to some degree with what spots you can optimally strike from on a frame by frame basis. Unfortunately again, to advance this seed you have to get into the start of a game and then reset, which takes way too long for TAS purposes.
The game also gives you 5 different lane options. 1 and 4 appear to be the same, being the generally "good" lanes. 2 and 3 seem like heavier oil patterns so the ball doesn't hook as much as on 1 or 4. 5 is right out! For whatever reason even at max power the ball travels slower on lane 5, which doesn't make any sense to me.
Ball weight doesn't matter. They appear to just be different colors. Thinking about a 7 pound ball murdering an entire rack of pins in this fashion is amusing though. In reality, since the pins weigh ~3.5 pounds, a 7 pound ball would deflect drastically off the headpin. Most prominent bowlers use 15/16, with the occasional 14 here and there.
The bowler we choose DOES matter, because even though there's no seemingly meaningful difference between them, the lefty (the first character in the list) has a huge advantage for the run. When we start the shot and activate the control meter, it starts on the left side. The left handed bowler starts on the right side of the lane, so we move a little left to get into position and can hit the control we need without waiting for it to bounce to the other side. The ball will still hook plenty. In real life, throwing a ball with the "opposite" hook like this is called a backup ball. It's not commonly seen but people have had success with it.
The final bit of frame savings comes from the power bar. Even though the top 3 are the same speed, they are not all equal per shot. One of the three options is frames faster per frame than the others for whatever reason and it's not always the same one.
So, yeah, bowling. We shoot our 300 game and get a cool looking trophy and... a car? All I got for my IRL 300s were lousy rings. I want a car. :(

Last Edited by ShesChardcore on 9/6/2022 1:36 PM
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