Ask a 5-year-old how to make bowling more awesome, and you might get a response like this: "Okay, it's like reg'lar bowling, okay? But it's on a volcano. And the ball is rolling down so fast it's on fire! And then the ball learns to fly! And then the ball gets really big and then it gets really little and then it rolls into a tree trunk and a raccoon throws it way up in the air! And the raccoon's brother rides the ball in the air because he can steer it because he is a smart raccoon. Shoot the ball out of a cannon! And that is how I would make bowling more awesome."
Sounds pretty fun, right? You bet your sweet bippy it does. But miraculously, that's exactly how Downhill Bowling plays. Every level starts you at the top of a mountain and lets you hurtle to the bottom, collecting strings of coins for points and toppling sets of pins arranged in traditional triangular formation. Steer left and right with the [arrow keys] and press [space] to use power-ups when you find them.
Downhill Bowling runs on the Unity browser plug-in, which you should already have if you played Off-Road Velociraptor Safari or anything else from the 2008 Unity Awards. If you don't have Unity yet, this is a great excuse to finally download it (the game will link you to it directly). So far, it's a better platform than Flash for great 3D games like this.
Analysis: Downhill bowling is an amazing concept, and GameResort has implemented it with style and whimsy. You get 10 well-designed levels with a solid assortment of alternate paths and challenging pick-ups. You get five checkbox achievements for each level, for added replay value. You can play for either the best score or the best time, and compete in the online leaderboards for each. It's great value for your money, and since this is a free game, that means infinite value and possibly eternal life.
Downhill Bowling plays well, but it would play even better if there were an option for mouse control. The binary on-off nature of the keyboard controls doesn't let you make fine adjustments easily, and downhill racing games like this are all about fine adjustments. I also had issues with the cannons, which can be aimed very precisely; but usually the target is so far away, it's borderline impossible to make an accurate shot. Plus, it's a 3D game, and occasionally the camera just flips out and buries itself in a mountainside.
Don't let any of that stop you from trying it, though. Downhill Bowling is pure fun, a game from a parallel universe where we all walk around on candy cane stilts and bowling is a cross between Mario Kart and cheese rolling. This is my advice for game designers: if you want to improve something, filter it through the mind of a 5-year-old, or remember how it felt to be one.