If I'd played as many real games of bowling as I've played 10th Frame, my bowling arm would now be 6ft long. And I didn't even have to hire a pair of sweaty bowling shoes and use a leaky ballpoint pen.
10th Frame is yet another brilliant simulation from the Carver brothers. You'll remember they wrote Raid Over Moscow. So whether it's knocking down skittles or Ruskies, it's all the same to them.
But 10th Frame resembles more their other recent success, Leader Board. It features the same kind of playing options, a huge scoreboard display and the now familiar joystick-controlled 'power meter' for executing your shots.
Before getting your fingers caught in the bowling ball, you must first select either the League or Open Bowling option, the difference being that in the League game, you get to organise yourselves into teams. In Open mode, you play for yourself, competing against a maximum of seven other bowlers.
Skill levels range from Kids (Designed only for Junior) to Amateur (Beginners level for bowling novices like you and me) and Professional (Forget this until you've graduated to your own bowling shirt).
Actually, playing the game is simplicity itself. Each player gets two turns to knock down all the pins, and there are ten frames per game. Your main is completely joystick-controlled and there's a sequence of moves to executing the bowl.
First you set your 'mark', that's the point on the bowling lane you're aiming at. Then position your man on the lane. Now comes the tricky bit, the bit your credibility depends on. The bowling process is controlled by the power-meter which shows two zones, speed and hook. You set both of these by some pretty nifty joystick movements. Let go the button at the point you choose on both scales.
The speed and hook functions work together. So the faster you bowl, the less hook (or bend) you get. Go too far in either direction and you enter the error zone, which usually means watching your bowl trundle up the gutter. Getting the hang of all this is not as easy as opening a tin of sardines without the key.
But perseverance pays off and you'll eventually get the feeling that the ball is doing just what you intended. This takes some time but, unless your opponents have been putting in some sneak practice, they'll be just as lousy.
And now for some words of praise. The animation and sound in 10th Frame are very classy. No matter how clumsy your effort turns you to be, the style of execution is always impeccable. That sweeping arm, the balanced crouch, the professional follow through - very stylish. Then sit back and listen to the bowl rumbling up the alley - crash!
The pins fall down with a chunky crunch and that whole mechanical process of picking up pins, sweeping away the ones you hit and putting down a new set is presented with remarkable realism. Better than the Top Rank when one pin usually gets stuck. The only thing you don't see is the ball rolling back. You know, where you get your fingers bashed!
Now for the scoring. As in Leader Board, the Carvers have placed great emphasis on score displays. Needless to say, all scores are totalled up automatically - no need to look like an utter fool if you don't know what a strike or a spare is.
By the way, if you've never bowled before, the manual gives a complete account of scoring and of the basic bowling strategies. It even gives a list of bowling jargon. So when somebody calls you a Turkey you won't drop a bowl on their foot because you'll know it means you got three strikes in a row.
Bowling nuts will love this game. Then again, stamp collectors will love it too. Get a few friends or the family round to join in - they won't need to take their shoes off.