Date Night Bowling has an unusual concept, but it goes nowhere. While players are told “to bring your A-game,” the developer, Serenity Forge, didn’t bring theirs. This hybrid game is heading to the gutters, sadly.

Let’s start with the dating aspect. There are ten characters divided between guys and girls. Curiously, 80 percent of them are locked. The devs are gambling that players will find this game enjoyable enough to replay and unlock them all. I give them a mark for boldness but not for astute design. Date Night Bowling is not especially fun, even under the most charitable analysis.

These characters have little depth. There’s no chance to build relationships as you play single dates contained to a single round of bowling. They repeat the same comments over and over. Often what’s said doesn’t even match the action. Go from a strike to knocking a few pins down? You may hear that you’re improving. Fail to pick up a spare? Your date might compliment you.

In between, minigames attempt to inject some varied fun. I have to admit that I had a hard time remembering most of them. They tend to involve timed button presses to fill a drink, clean a table, and more. They don’t hold up on repeated plays.

Dating gimmick aside, the bowling itself isn’t much better. While there are options for difficulty, lane oil, and weight, there are only two alleys to play on, which isn’t good. I was hoping to unlock more (and more character outfits, but what you see is what you get). 

While mildly fun for a frame or two with a real-life partner, it’s dull playing solo. There’s no online. Pins seem to drop more at random than through careful ball placement. It’s shallow. Even though casual bowling (sans the dating gimmick) is available, I can’t see it generating many repeat plays.

At least graphics and music are fine. I suggest picking the pixel-perfect video filter if you’re still inclined to try this game. It will help you appreciate the visuals in ways that the retro and smooth filters can’t. Also, the music can start to sound repetitive if you play for very long. But don’t worry, you won’t.

On the one hand, I can say that Date Night Bowling mostly achieves what it set out to do. But, its sites were set so darn low, could anything more than a poor product be hoped for? It’s a bare and gimmicky release that had me waiting for fun that never really arrived.

Serenity Forge has had a hand in bringing some of my favorite games to the Nintendo Switch. But Date Night Bowling feels like an unfinished proof of concept and failed to hold my interest. It’s a bush league release with much room for improvement. One could argue that it’s a better alternative than going to a real-life alley and running the risk of catching COVID. But given that choice, I think I’d rather skip bowling altogether.