Now I love basketball as much as the next gamer. But what I don’t love is a completely re-hashed, re-done, re-packaged version of a game we’ve seen a thousand times before. Everyone wants to be like NBA Jam.
NBA Showtime: NBA On NBC represents one of the worst trends in console gaming today — take a successful idea (NBA Jam and arcade-style basketball play), make a game that looks, feels, and plays just like it, slap a famous name to it (does NBC and Shaq ring a bell), produce it on every game system you can (the game will be on the Playstation, N64, Dreamcast, and even GameBoy — yes, that’s right — Gameboy) and make as much money as is humanly possible before everyone realizes they’ve been ripped off.
Because it will be short, let me get the positive aspects of the game out of the way first. The opening sequence really does look like you’ve turned on your TV at 1:00 p.m. on a Sunday and are watching an NBA broadcast on NBC. That music plays, the pictures scroll down and you’d swear the Lakers were about to suit up against the Jazz. Fouls are actually called in this game, which keeps the action from becoming a complete slobberknocker.
Trivia questions in between games that if answered correctly get you extra attribute points for your Created Players is one of the more ingenious things I’ve seen for a sports game in quite awhile. All right — that’s about it. Now it’s time to lay the smackdown.
If you’re going to be allowed to attach a name like NBC to your title — USE IT!!! Where is Bob Costas doing play-by-play? Where’s Ahmad Rashad? Hell, now that they hired Marv "Bite me" Albert back, he could have made an appearance. This is like getting the MLB Players Association license and not including real players’ names in your game.
The graphics on this game are atrocious. The players look blocky, you can barely even see the ball and even what should be a highlight of the game — rip-roaring, rim-rocking dunks look like complete monkey-crap.
It’s even difficult to tell the most glaringly different players apart because the texture is so bad. But in order to speed up the frame rate (which I guess can be half blamed on Playstation hardware limitations) the graphics had to be sacrificed. Even then, at times some play-by-play is still behind, or even ahead of the action. The sound itself, even if includes the names of individual players, is average at best.
Now, while you’ll win most of your games against the computer, I challenge any reader to beat the computer in this game by more than 10 points. At any difficultly level — IT CANNOT BE DONE. Once you start pulling away, even Vancouver, with Bryant Reeves shooting will start hitting 3-pointers from 55 feet away. This makes playing against the computer, even with a friend, annoying and not fun in any way, shape, or form.
Granted, it is fun to be your favorite NBA superstar, but when they all look alike and have all the same moves and generally can do all the same things, what the hell is the point?
While I’m not prejudice against arcade-style sports games (after all who doesn’t like NFL Blitz) a sim-basketball game (like NBA Live 2000) just plays 20 times better than this. Every play in NBA on NBC can be described as "inbound the ball, dribble, pass to teammate, dunk." EVERY PLAY!
This gets real old, real fast. The game action is simply too fast to enjoy. While playing against friends can be fun, it doesn’t do enough to hide the glaring flaws that exist. Instead of buying this game, go down to your local Blockbuster and rent it for a night instead. If it’s your cup of tea great, but it clearly was not mine.
With the glut of sports games out for all the systems these days, you have to do something pretty spectacular to get noticed, and putting Shaq on the cover of your box just doesn’t cut it. NBA on NBC not only doesn’t qualify as a basic upgrade of NBA Jam, by all accounts it’s a game that takes two steps back, launches one form beyond the arc and throws up an air-ball.