Review by Retro

"An average attempt at a fun basketball game"

Like all of the sports games for Atari 2600, Basketball is as basic as it can get. It looks absurd and it's terribly dated, but it can still be a little bit of fun, believe it or not.

The graphics in Basketball are nothing to brag about at all. On each side of the court, there is a vertical line for the basketball pole and backboard. For the rim, there is a horizontal line that is attached to the backboard, forming a convincing stick-figure basketball goal. The court is real small (it always fits on one screen without scrolling) and there's a line on each side of it to let you know how far you can go on each side; even though there's not any out of bounds. As for the players themselves, they are just simple stick figures that always look the same even when they jump.

Basketball's gameplay is just as basic and simple as the graphics are. This game doesn't know the meaning of teams; it's just good ol' one on one basketball. There are also no quarters of play in the game. The players get just four minutes to work up a sweat. When that wholesome four minutes is up, the game ends. Of course, the idea is to try to ring the basket and earn the most points before time runs out.

Don't expect to see any dunks, fade-aways, up-and-unders, or any of the other popular shots in this game of Basketball. The only offense you'll ever see in Basketball is the normal jump shot. On the defensive end, you'll see a bunch of steals (and hopefully steal a few yourself), but there are not any blocks or goaltends. There are also not any referees or fouls included inside this ancient cartridge. You and your opponent just have to run back and forth across the small court and ring as many shots as you can.

To shoot the ball in Basketball, you must press and hold the button on the joystick. When you let go of the button, your player will shoot the ball. There are two different ways of shooting the rock. Hold the button and you'll see that your player's hands will begin moving up and down. If you let go of the button while your player's hands are low, you'll shoot a low-arcing shot that won't travel very far distance or height wise. Let go of the button while your player's hands are high and you'll shoot a high-arcing shot that will travel a little further.

Two options of play are available in this game that employs the basic title of Basketball. You can either play against the computer player or against someone else in a two-player game. I once read in the instruction booklet for Basketball that if you can defeat the computer player by 6 or more points that you are very good. And it is right because it's almost impossible to beat the computer at all; let alone the idea of scoring a victory of at least 6 points.

There's not any major flaws in Basketball other than the fact that it is terribly out of date and that it probably won't appeal to anybody who isn't a fan of Atari 2600 games. But there are a few minor flaws.

It's usually kind of hard to visualize whether your shots are headed for a score or not. This is because almost every shot that does go in, will bounce off the top of the pole first, and then drop in the basket. Sometimes it looks like your shot is going to go in or even look like it does go in and it'll turn out to either be a minor airball or a major airball that sails completely over the backboard. It's not hard at all to score, it's just hard to judge whether the ball is going to go in or not.

It's also a little difficult to steal the ball from your opponent. Sometimes you'll unwillingly steal the ball or have it stolen. In other words, at times it doesn't look like you should've gotten the ball, and at other times you'll think you should have stolen the ball, but you're left empty-handed.

The last complaint I have about Basketball is that the players can only run one speed. There is no way to give your player more speed at any time during the game, which brings this game down a point.

On the good side, Basketball can get very competitive, and even a bit fun at times. But those fun times are usually a bit too far in the distance for me.

All in all, Basketball isn't a terribly bad game, but it's far from being one of the best. It's definitely challenging enough, the controls are well done, and the graphics and sound are good enough. It's just not as fun as it needed to be, and there are one too many discrepancies.

GRAPHICS – The graphics are not anything to brag about at all. The players and the basketball goals are stick figures, and the court is small and not so detailed. However, the game does have a decent variety of colors for it to be an early title.

CONTROL - Basketball's controls are simple and easy to learn since all you have to do is run and shoot. But it would've been nice to be able to have extra bursts of speed when you really need them, instead of just having one constant speed the entire game.

SOUND - Music is nowhere to be heard in this game of basketball. There are a few sound effects, but very few of them at that. Of the sounds that are included, they are (yep you guessed it) very basic. A simple beep symbolizes a score, and the sounds of the ball bouncing on the rim and the floor is decent enough.

OVERALL - The audience knew this wasn't going to be that exciting of a game, so they all stayed home. Even when I was a kid playing this game, I was never head over heels about Basketball. Playing it now as an adult, I still think that it's just a mediocre game, so it gets a score of 5 from me.


Reviewer's Score: 5/10 | Originally Posted: 04/05/01, Updated 05/20/02


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