Back in 2013, Rolocule debuted Motion Tennis, an iPhone game that brought Wii-style gaming to the Apple TV via AirPlay. Using AirPlay Mirroring, users could display the game on an Apple TV while using an iPhone as a tennis racket. The setup drew natural comparisons to Nintendo's Wii Sports, with the iPhone playing the role of the Wii Remote.
Motion Tennis wasn't perfect, as it did suffer from minor lag and there were naturally concerns about users accidentally throwing their iPhones across the room or into their televisions, but it did serve as an interesting glimpse of both the potential of AirPlay and the possibilities for Apple TV gaming.
Rolocule is now back with an addition to its sports-themed Apple TV games, earlier this month debuting Bowling Central. The game itself is fairly simple, allowing users to bowl a classic game of 3, 6, or 10 frames, or take on a challenge mode that currently offers 30 stages with various stationary and/or moving blockers in the way of the pins.
Bowling Central is by no means the first bowling game for iOS, nor even necessarily the best or most realistic, but once again the selling point is Apple TV compatibility via AirPlay. When in AirPlay mode, the user can wave his or her iPhone side to side to set the release point and then swing the device to bowl the ball, even imparting spin depending on the trajectory of the swing.
In our testing, we found very little lag when playing via Apple TV, an important factor considering the need to accurately time throws in challenge mode. Throws also felt natural with the iPhone after a bit of practice that involved getting used to keeping a thumb on the screen during the throw rather than releasing as on Wii Sports. Rolocule co-founder Anuj Tandon notes the controls were specifically designed to keep the thumb in place during throws in order to maintain better control of the device and minimize the chances of accidentally throwing it.
We did experience some crashing problems when AirPlaying to a second-generation Apple TV, although these appear to be due more to AirPlay issues on the older set-top box than an app problem. No such issues were seen with a third-generation Apple TV.
Overall, Bowling Central is a fairly straightforward bowling game with limited gameplay options so far. For example, there is no live multiplayer option and the 30 challenge levels can be completed rather quickly, although it can take a bit longer to achieve "three-pin" ratings on each.
More challenge levels appear to be in the works, however, and the Apple TV compatibility is what makes Bowling Central an interesting concept as party entertainment. With Apple yet to allow games or any sort of App Store for the Apple TV, Rolocule's AirPlay implementation gives a nice impression of the potential for the set-top box should Apple ultimately decide to open it up to third-party developers.