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NBA Showtime NBA on NBC
(N64) Review

Publisher: Midway
Release Date: November 1999

Background Info


Midway decided to get in on the arcade basketball genre last year with a port of NBA Showtime from the arcades. Up to that point, that market had been owned by Acclaim's NBA Jam 2000. How does NBA Showtime fare? Read on.

Presentation/Graphics : 80
The player details in NBA Showtime are poorly done from a distance. Up close, the players look a little more like themselves. The crowd is even worse. They are motionless and look like cardboard cutouts. That might have been acceptable a few years ago, but nowadays, games are coming out with animated crowds.

The dunk animations were poorly done. Frames of dunk animation appear to be missing, odd as that sounds. Once you are within 5 feet above the basket, your player will automatically appear hanging onto the rim.

Also, the camera view should have been adjusted so that your player you are controlling is never off-screen.

Presentation/Audio : 70
For the most part, the audio is acceptable. The announcer does not announce any names in NBA Showtime. In the arcade version of the game, names were actually called. This might be true to the limitation of the N64 cart. However, the game does feature a number of unique comments.

The sounds that come along with basketball are all represented with good taste. There isn't much to complain about the fast-paced background music.

Interface/Options : 75
As most of you know, arcade ports usually mean a limited number of options. This is very true for NBA Showtime. There is no season or career mode. The closest thing available is a mode which allows players to enter their initials. The mode tracks the player's history of wins and losses. A very poor decision was made in not having some sort of season mode. What will keep people playing the game while at home if no friends are around?

The game does contain a create-a-player feature which allows users to create players with crazy clothing and accessories. The menus in the game are really arcadish. Low-resolution text makes it difficult to read some of the text shown on screen. Often I would have to squint to try to make out the ratings during the player selection process. You are able to allocate your custom player's attributes and assign 2 of the 7 privileges. The 7 privileges include: Stealth Turbo, Big Head, Drone Big Head, Court Select, Choose Hotspot, Hide Attributes, Choose Jersey. Be careful with creating players since you are not able to delete custom players one by one. If you want to get rid of one, you will have to get rid of all. I had to find this out the hard way.

NBA Showtime has the basic controls for any basketball game out there: shoot, pass, turbo, steal, and block buttons. A spin move or a crossover can be done by tapping turbo twice. A clear out move can be done by doing the same thing when the ball-handler has picked up his dribble or not yet dribbled. Holding the turbo button on defense will result in a higher leap or a shove instead of a swipe move.

Unhappy with a player's performance? Substitutions can be made at the end of the half.

As for the actual interface itself: Well, no major changes have been made from the arcade version. The only positive premise here is maybe Midway wants gamers to have the complete arcade atmosphere. Corny, eh? Really though, Midway should have made some changes to the overall interface. However, the current state it is in is viable for me. No major complaints.

Gameplay : 75
NBA Showtime plays as if the players could move faster than the speed of light. The game even feels faster than the arcade version. For those of you who aren't familar with the NBA Jam 2-on-2 type gameplay, the players basically do things they can't or don't normally do in real life. I bet NBA Showtime is one of the few ways out there that you will see Shaq taking a 3-point shot and making it. You will see players going up 20 feet into the air, doing some sort of acrobatic moves and then slamming the ball into the hoop.

The game is really easy to pick up and play even for a non-basketball gamer. Just about anything goes in the game. The only rules that are really enforced in NBA Showtime are goal-tending and shot clock violations, although sometimes obvious goal-tends are not called. I might add that free throws are also in the game. This might seem really strange that a game where you can shove players around would include foul shots. I'll be honest and say that I'm really not sure what it takes to get to the foul line. There are times when I shove the opposing ball handler down to the court with force and not get called for it, and there are times when I do get called for it. Strange.

The AI in the game cheats. No matter what difficulty level it is on, most of the games you play will be within 5-8 points. Even if you are ahead by a large margin, the computer will somehow find a way to start sinking a higher percentage of shots, as well as blocking and stealing a lot more balls on the defensive end. The most successful way of trying to defend against the computer is to knock the computer down. It is very difficult to block a computer player's shot; not impossible though.

There are a few annoyance in the game's engine. The ball physics of jump shots just don't look right to me. Often I would toss the ball up and the ball would appear to have a nice arc as it headed to the basket, but it would often bounce off the rim. Other times when the ball would seem as if it would go short or to the side, the ball would go into the basket.

Overall, the gameplay is a mixed bag. Some might not mind the flaws, while others will have fits over it.

Replay Value : 50
NBA Showtime is a multiplayer game rather than a single player game. Users will simply get bored of the knock them down and dunk gameplay if they are playing just against the computer, even with all the secret characters and codes that can be unlocked. With 2-4 people playing, the game might start up some trash talking and some high fives.

Overall : 75
This game won't keep your interest for too long alone. With some friends, the game should bring about some fun and enjoyable get-togethers. Even though NBA Showtime has a number of flaws, the game is still more enjoyable in terms of gameplay than the closest game in its genre, NBA Jam 2000. NBA Jam 2000 has a little more depth, but the gameplay and graphics leave users very sour. NBA Showtime is at least worthy of renting.

By: James C. 12/30/99

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