Bowling is best known as a recreational activity for a night out with friends. However, it’s also a full-fledged sport in the United States and the United Kingdom. It originated from the game of skittles, and those passionate about it know that, besides the better-known variant, with a lane and ten pins, there’s also lawn bowling or bows, as well as five and nine-pin bowling, candlepin bowling, and duckpin bowling. We’ll do our best to satisfy fans of all disciplines, and highlight titles where game developers were true aficionados. With that, let’s dive straight into the best bowling games for PC.
Premium Bowling takes the crown as a contender among the leading bowling games for PC, whether played on a screen or using a VR (Virtual Reality) headset. Based on ten-pin bowling, it offers a realistic physics simulation accompanied by gorgeous environments and a fitting soundtrack. The game has a single-player, co-op, and multiplayer mode and is based on a day-to-day ranking system with weekly or monthly leagues. Premium Bowling is so intricate that even the oil in the lane gets worn out in time. Also, the pattern and size of the bowling balls, which you can customize, and lane lubrication noticeably affect the ball’s behavior.
Although PBA Pro Bowling 2021 exists, most players don’t think improvements warrant its purchase. They were unnecessary if you ask us – it’s certainly one of the franchise’s flagship bowling PC games. Licensed by the Professional Bowlers Association, it allows you to play as many real-life bowling professionals, whose motion was captured and translated to the game’s physics. You can partake in 100+ virtual tournaments, versus AI in Career Mode or real players in online or local PvP. There are over a dozen realistic environments thanks to licenses for oil patterns, equipment, and pins from PBA Tours, and 100+ custom challenges.
Let’s Bowl VR is the game with the best graphics on our list, only rivaled by Pure Bowl VR, which we’ll mention shortly. It’s also filled to the brim with content, judging by 4 distinct game modes – arcade, career, online tournament, and challenges, available offline and online. In both cases, you can play individual games, or chase high scores or achievements on a global leaderboard. However, multiplayer mode allows you to join 16-player tournaments. The game features 18 clubs from 5 cities and allows spending the in-game currency on custom power-ups, equipment, and customization of balls and skittles.
Zombie Bowl-o-Rama is one of the oldest games on the list and thus great for low-spec gamers. It predictably mixes sports, horror, and zombies, and puts you in the heart of the action. After choosing your character, you’ll spawn on a lane overtaken by zombies, with a ball in hand. Your goal is to throw them for a loop using tricks named MiniCorpses, Buzz Saw, and Dance Fever, to name a few. You can switch between 10 different balls, and every miss makes zombies advance a step closer to you. After clearing 6 lanes from zombies, you’re ready for the Showdown event.
Even though Bowling at the Lake was released in 2016, its graphics and textures are nothing to write home about. It’s also single-player-only and doesn’t have top-notch physics. Why is it so high on the list, then? Well, it’s a free VR-only game, which is a salvation for gamers who spent hundreds of dollars on a headset. It also provides a dreamy experience of bowling on a lakefront, with sounds and glimpses of nature: bodies of water, mountains, palm trees, and sunsets. You’ll also appreciate the ability to hook balls with a twist of a wrist, trust us.
6. Pure Bowl VR
You might be tired of VR bowling PC games, but the reality is, bowling is one of the most fitting sports for motion controllers. Well, alongside tennis, table tennis, golf, and cricket. This one stands out because of beautiful graphics, but also the feeling your real-life bowling skills improve afterward. It’s not hard to see why. Physics and motion tracking is outstanding, and the game can provide bowling assist for newcomers. Most importantly, you can adjust the AI opponent difficulty, play on split-screen with a friend, and get detailed statistics about your playstyle at the Bowl-Lab.
Ever played the frustrating yet addictive parkour game Getting Over It? This one proudly credits the inspiration and uses the same mechanics. It’s a single-player 2D platformer game that forces you to climb upward for what seems like infinity. But instead of a cauldron, you’ll steer the bowling ball and hit pins one after another. On the journey, you’ll not only listen to the game’s hidden narrative but also lovely classical music. Additionally, instead of rocks, you’ll climb funny shapes: house appliances, alien spaceships, Moon’s surface, the sea, and even a roasted turkey.
The Sims 4 Bowling Night Stuff isn’t a standalone game. Instead, it’s downloadable content (DLC) for Sims 4, purchased separately. As expected, it allows you to build and customize bowling alleys, whether in an old-school or modern style, with 32 new pieces of furniture pieces. You can then bring your sims to it, but before that, pick one of the 17 pieces of clothing and 3 new hairstyles. While there, you can not only adjust the ambiance and lighting and increase the music volume, but also unlock new trick shots as your sims increase their bowling skill.
HyperBowl is among the oldest bowling PC games, but an equally superb representative of the genre as Zombie Bowl-o-Rama. The Steam version is a 2018 remake of the 2001 game and features Arcade Mode and quick-play, both available for 1 to 4 players. In it, you’re not the one throwing the ball, you’re the ball! This makes for narrow-perspective and interesting camerawork. Furthermore, you can play the game with either AWSD keys, trackpad, or mouse. Importantly, the game brings the 6 bowling lanes from the original, but also adds custom ones.
10. Galactic Bowling
Galactic Bowling allows you to take bowling to another planet or a universe. It’s a fast-paced game that features out-of-this-world (literally!) environments. The appeal is largely in funny (and deranged) characters, cleverly designed levels, superpowers, special balls, and mini-games. You can play a solo campaign, which includes 11 environments and different characters, but also custom modes, named Regular and Battle. Additionally, you can try out online multiplayer and compete in quick games or rise through the ranks in the Galactic Bowling League.
District 112 Incident: Bowling Alley is similar to Bowling at the Lake in many ways. The scenery is nowhere near as dreary or relaxing, but the game itself is very low-pressure. The graphics also aren’t impressive in any sense of the word. However, the game has a smart AI, which will make the single-player mode a joy. You can also play on split-screen, but only by sharing a keyboard with a friend. We also like that you can change the number of pins, which is rare nowadays. Plus, the game developers are working on adding more environments and game modes.
PePiBo: Peregrino Pinata Bowling is one of the rare strictly offline bowling games for PC, but it contains far more elements. It’s primarily a cartoon adventure that puts you in the shoes of Peregrino, who is “the chosen one”. He, with the help of his loyal companion, a pig, and several spirit animals, must beat the ancient evil creature of legends, Lava Dragon, who has woken up at the Volcano of Maconda. The way the final duel happens is quite unusual; after solving many puzzles on the way, you’ll enter a piñata bowling showdown.
If you think this is just another VR game, think again. While the foundation is in a hyper-realistic bowling physics simulation, you can also play it without a headset. Additionally, the pins, both before and after a ball smashes into them, come alive and start talking. Some animated pins (hence pinheads), are polite, while others try to mock you and provoke a response. It’s your (or that of up to 3 more friends) choice whether to shut them up or see in which funny ways they react. The announced update will also showcase pinheads during off-hours, e.g., outside of the lane.
14. Crazy Bowling
Crazy Bowling will change the way you think of bowling. While you can start with ten-pin bowling, it serves as more of a reminder of what “normal” is. The rules will quickly spiral out of control, trust us on that. For example, you can stretch the lane, control the ball, knock down pins that are positioned in patterns or randomly, at different distances. It gets so crazy that, in some stages, more than 100 pins appear. Best of all, while the game is currently limited to solo play, developers have announced multiplayer and achievement and leaderboard systems.
What happens when you combine golf and bowling? You get Bolf, of course! The easiest way to explain this is “playing bowling on a large scale”. In other words, you’ll use golfing swing motions to launch the bowling ball hundreds of meters away. Besides the ability to customize your bolfer’s characters, you’ll witness beautiful and calming scenery – lawns, forests, and a few ponds. The game isn’t about swinging repeatedly, either. It has an intricate virtual grip feature, allowing for fine-tuning of every hit. Finally, the game has a built-in experience system.
Royale Storm Bowling is a 2D time management bowling game for PC based around fast reaction times and stunts. You’ll escape a royale storm, and must collect 80+ balls on the field across 50 different levels. During the course of the game, you can upgrade the balls to 20 unique colors and 20 different shadows. There’s also an RPG element because you can rise through over 50 military ranks and increase your health and mana. There are also superpowers such as bullet time, or rewinding and stopping time, using speed limits, and even zooming.
17. Puzzle Bowling
Puzzle Bowling is a minimalistic bowling puzzle game that takes place on what seems like a table in one of the pool games for PC. You must use your intelligence and logic to make the bowling ball knock down pins through empty slits on the table. Once all pins are gone, you’ve completed one of the 100 available levels. Luckily, there’s no time limit, stars, numbers, or any text to provide pressure or distraction. If you get stuck, Puzzle Bowling brings 4 different interactive elements to help you find a solution.
18. 10 Pin Bowling
10 Pin Bowling is a game you can play normally or via a VR headset, online or offline, solo (against AI), or versus friends on your PC. Although the game is based on the ten-pin bowling game, developers stated they plan to implement five and nine-pin bowling, duckpin, and candlepin bowling, as well as online multiplayer. The game also has controller support and developers publicized their plan to upgrade the graphics built with Unreal Engine 4 to the ones created by Unreal Engine 5.
19. Bomb Bowling 2
Bomb Bowling 2 is a single-player-only 2D indie puzzle game that uses funny physics for knocking pins down, one of which includes explosions. However, the game is quite challenging and requires a lot of logic, precision, and time management. The reason? You must execute each movement correctly if you plan on knocking all the pins off-screen at once. There are over 50 levels of this to get through, which will surely occupy your time for quite a while. The game is nearly free, too, which means you barely lose anything trying it.
Alley Catz Bowling took the last spot amongst the bowling PC games, but not because of lack of quality. Instead, the problem lies in a limiting game mechanism, which requires social interaction. To clarify, you, as a Twitch streamer, must share your gameplay with your followers, who can join you and interact via chat, audio, and video. If you’re a regular player, you must find a streamer on Twitch willing to include you. Important to notice, the game is based on ten-pin bowling and the simultaneous maximum player number is 10.