I was never a huge sports game fan – other than Blades of Steel (back in the day). So this one was out of my wheel house. It reminded me of when I was a kid playing basketball on a half court though. Who needs realistic graphics and superstar athletes to have fun?
The game is 1-on-1 or 2-on-2 – you get to decide. You can play exhibition, or in a tournament mode. And can adjust some of the play settings – like time limits, and fouls.
You get to pick your team from players based on the game’s designers. I bet that was fun to program, wasn’t it guys? I’d do the same thing. Players have various stats, but I only really cared about their 3pt percentage so that’s all I really looked at. There is rebounds and all kinds of other stuff in the manual.
Once you get your team put together, you shoot for outs. Which I think means who gets the ball first. Make the most baskets and you get to start the game. The gameplay is very straightforward. If you’ve lived under a rock your whole life – you’re playing on a half court. So if you block, steal, or get a rebound, you have to clear the ball by going past the top of the key. If you forget, the game just won’t let you shoot and tell you to clear the ball.
Playing 2-on-2, your computer controlled partner will cover one of the players and leave it up to you to cover the second. I discovered that covering a player basically means standing in their way. Don’t get too close or they can just push around you, but standing still a short distance away will make them run around ineffectually trying to get to the basket. It’s actually kind of comical.
Stealing is tricky, I never mastered it. Though when someone tries to drive past you and you’re standing still is basically your optimal time to try it. Also while chasing someone about to shoot you often can get the ball. Just be careful because attempting to steal makes you stop your stride and if you fail it’s a guaranteed basket.
I don’t know how many times the ref called “blocking”. Not on me, but on the computer players. I had to figure out how to avoid them blocking me so I could score baskets, or I just kept having to reset back at the 3pt line. I’m not sure if fouls added much to the game, I couldn’t tell when someone was doing something wrong anyway.
My strategy basically boiled down to running straight at the basket, then hitting the shoot/dunk button and scoring. It worked pretty much every time. I mixed in some three point shots to get bigger leads, but if you want a guaranteed basket, the run in and dunk strategy was golden.
On defence I would stand by the basket, or at least between the guy with the ball and the basket. My cpu player would do a good job stealing, and I would work on blocking and rebounds.
Free throws changed the game perspective and a small target would fly around the screen. Either going up off to the sides, or down in to the middle of the basket. I’m still unclear on what makes a perfect free throw, because I abused savestates at one point to see where the ideal location to stop the target was, and between two throws I could get one in, but never the second, even when stopping the target in the exact same spot.
In the tournament you’re given a 3 digit passcode when you win so you can continue the tournament later on. Make sure you write it down, or take a picture or something. Tournaments last 3 rounds, so the third time is the finals. The computer players get noticeably harder in the third round – they were stealing the ball from my during most of my dunk runs, and landing 3 point shots, and basically gobbling up every rebound.
I needed to get really good at 3pt shots to keep up, since most of my shots, even my dunks would bounce out. I’m not sure if that was just bad luck, or the game making things harder on me on purpose. You need to be able to steal, block and get rebounds to get ahead in the finals, and don’t expect to lead by much – it was actually a pretty good challenge.
At the end of the day though, it’s a sports game, and once you’ve won one tournament you’ve won them all. Playing against a friend might hold more long term appeal, but playing the CPU only holds my attention for so long.