Once a character has been created (or pro selected), the player has a choice of several different gameplay modes, and all of them support up to six players via the Playstation multitap. There is an exhibition mode for quick games, a tournament, a long-term career choice, and a “skins” game which was created by the developers at THQ. The skins game is the most intense, being essentially a contest to see who can throw the most strikes. Two consecutive strikes will earn the bowler a “skin,” and the subsequent players are required to also throw a strike to prevent the previous player from winning the skin. If the subsequent players are successful, the skins increase in value until someone misses and the pot is won.
The control of the bowlers is tight, if not overly simplistic. Players can position their bowler horizontally along the lane, and can control power, spin, direction, and accuracy with the buttons and joypad. Throwing a ball is simple: use the overhead view of the lane to line up the bowler, set your angle and spin, and then press a button. Much like the various golf games on the market, power and accuracy meters will appear. Players press a button when the scrolling meter reaches the target at the end, and a miss will result in either insufficient speed or precision to make the required shot.
The biggest challenge of the game is not negotiating the meters, but compensating for the change of the oil pattern on the bowling lane. Just as in real life, bowling alleys oil their lanes to protect their wood and assist the bowler. Over the course of a game, however, the layout of the oil will become imbalanced due to the friction of the balls. Although the player can both see and set the layout of the oil at a game’s beginning, it invisibly degrades over the course of the match. Throwing the ball straight down the lane at the beginning of the game is adequate to score a strike, but as the oil slowly spreads out players will lose both speed and accuracy if they repeat the same throw. Gamers must constantly be aware of which lines down the lane have worn thin, and avoid them. Consequently, the positioning of the bowler and the amount of spin added to the shots become critical.
The physics engine of Brunswick Circuit Pro Bowling is worthy of a strike. Balls, pins, and bowlers are all very realistic. There are six different balls to choose from, all with different hooks, lengths, centers and track flares. Moreover, all the selectable balls are official Brunswick products. Some balls (like the Speed Demon) get their offensive power from their extreme velocity, while other balls (like the Quantum Raven) lumber more slowly but use their larger mass to demolish the frame of pins. Regardless of ball choice, expertise can be acquired with any type of ball with a given amount of practice.