Tekken 7's first downloadable content pack is here, and it comes in the form of Ultimate Tekken Bowl. Available as part of the game's season pass or separately as a standard add-on, it revives the series' Tekken Bowl mode, in which you're free to take to the lanes and knock down pins as your favourite characters.
First thing's first: Tekken 7 isn't exactly bursting at the seams with game modes to begin with. Its single-player and local multiplayer offering is decent enough, but it's till missing fan favourites like Team Battle and Survival. As such, releasing something like Ultimate Tekken Bowl with a relatively steep price tag attached can seem like a bit of a kick to the gut.
None of that would matter too much if this was a fully fleshed out bowling experience, but the package just isn't as robust as it could be. Ultimate Tekken Bowl features three modes of play: single player, two-player versus, and striker. The first sees you attempt to rack up high scores as you take on ten frames by yourself, the second sees you play against a local opponent, and the third gives you a limited number of balls and lines up various tricky shots that'll put your skills to the test.
With no online modes to jump into, your time spent with this DLC is going to hinge on your local multiplayer situation. If you've got a keen rival or a group of like-minded friends to play against, then Ultimate Tekken Bowl can be a blast, and provides a fun alternative to beating the snot out of each other. It's a real shame that you can't have more than two players competing in one match, though.
The bowling itself can be difficult to get to grips with, but once you have a knack for it, smashing through strike after strike is supremely satisfying. The difficulty comes from the fact that you have three elements to consider: your angle, the spin on the ball, and the power of your shot. Getting one or two of these things right is easy enough, but bugger something up and Ultimate Tekken Bowl shows no mercy. Gutter balls are inevitable when you're first finding your feet.
Adding an extra layer of complexity, each character has different bowling-specific statistics. For example, the hulking Gigas has maximum power, meaning that he can throw the ball faster than any other character, but his spin is terrible, so trying to nail the curve on his shots is a tall order. By contrast, the dainty Josie has a weak throw, but she can apply some crazy amounts of spin to her ball. With these stats in mind, you really need to plan ahead based on the character that you're using.
It's a bit weird, then, that some characters are -- according to their stats -- naturally better than others. Kazuya and Feng, for instance, have an A rank in power and an A rank in spin, while someone like Claudio has a B rank in both columns. Obviously your technique and skill are the deciding factors in playing a good game, but we still find it strange that some members of the cast are straight up harder to win with than others.
On top of the bowling, the pack includes a few neat little additions like customisation items and HUD alterations, as well as a handful of new costumes. Sadly, you can't actually use your custom outfits when bowling - a decision that has us seriously scratching our heads.
Ultimate Tekken Bowl can be a blast with friends, but for its asking price, it's hard not to feel like there should be more meat on its bones. It's a fun Tekken 7 extra, but it's far from an essential purchase.