Search For Posters!
  Join the SGN staff!
Help Wanted
Release Dates


About Us

The Sports

Partner Links
Auto Insurance Quote
Irvine Moving Companies
LA Moving Companies
Brand Name Shoes

NBA Showtime NBA on NBC
(PSX) Review

Publisher: Midway
Release Date: November 1999

Background Info

NBA Showtime is from a long line of Midway arcade sports games stretching all the way back to the granddaddy of them all, the original NBA Jam. Oh, sure, the graphics have been updated, the images are sharper, the game is presented in 3-D, but, come on, what's really changed since the old days of "Boom-chucka-lucka"? Let's see...

Presentation/Graphics : 85
Somehow this series has never quite prospered on 32-bit platforms. I recall a particularly bad version of NBA Jam for the Saturn, where the players were fuzzy and the movement of the camera made good gameplay more art and luck than skill. That's not quite the case here. Still, the appearance of the players during the pre-game introductions is disappointing, and the in-game animations aren't always much better--even if some are rather astounding and spectacular (especially the trademark dunks and skyjams). The courts are clear and crisp, with appropriate home court designs. The menu presentations are also well done, if familiar. Overall, nicely done, but not spectacular--especially as expectations about graphics are rising with the emergence of new consoles. No, it's not fair to compare a 32-bit rendition to a port of the game for the Dreamcast, but owners of multiple platforms should ponder their choice.

Presentation/Audio : 85
The Jam series is famous for its loud noises, hyped announcing, and special effects. NBA Showtime continues that tradition (although some people will toggle the announcer off). I'd like to see the crowd get into the game a little more, however. The pounding dribble, the ball bouncing off the rim, the countdown clock--it's all here. But then it was all here before; it's just that this time it's sharper, and it's permeated by the NBA on NBC theme music.

Interface/Options : 80
For some reason, Midway forgets that it is no longer designing games for the old Genesis three-button controller. Once again we have shoot, pass, and turbo, all of which may be reassigned to favorite buttons. Had Midway chosen to use some of the other buttons to perform different tasks, players might be able to pull off more outlandish moves with greater ease earlier in their time with the game.

Almost as important to the success of the Jam series as the gameplay is the record-keeping tracking player performances. Somehow you just don't seem satisfied until you see your name up in big letters among the career leaders. A more recent addition is the "create-a-player" option, in which you can design your own player. For all of the options you have concerning appearance, it's the skills aspect that's most important (I tend to spend all my points on 3-point accuracy); answer trivia questions correctly, and you can win more points to develop your player (or reallocate them as you see fit).

You can play against your friends (and I suggest that multiplayer is the way to go) or try to run through the entire league, one team at a time. In doing so, you can speed up the game and shot clocks or alter the difficulty level. And, as in the arcade version, you can rush to insert codes at the matchup screen (although I think it would be better to insert a codes menu rather than go through the charade of "discovering" codes, usually by checking the net or a gaming magazine). I just wish you could have a separate option to toggle CPU-assistance to off. Why? Read on...

Gameplay : 80
Many people say that the Jam/Showtime series is mindlessly addictive. They are right. It is MINDLESSLY addictive. Now, don't get me wrong: I like playing the game. However, I don't care for it as much as I once did, in part because of the overall improvement in sports gaming titles. Moreover, the cheating AI that is at the heart of Midway's sports arcade series may keep things close, but that's the problem: luck is at least as important as skill, especially in single-player games. If you go up by eight, you know that in a few seconds a steal here and a block there plus a few long range jumpers and you are back down to a slim lead (or you actually fall behind). And even if you are playing a bad game, sometimes you slip back into contention the same way.

There's nothing terribly difficult about operating your player, although you may have to work a bit at some of the button combinations to pull off spin moves (hit turbo twice) or alley-oops. What is difficult is defense--especially now that the shovefest option is muted somewhat by the use of fouls (five fouls equals a three point attempt and possession following a successful shot). The shove option was to compensate for the fact that it was very hard to keep your man between the opponent and the basket. Those who work hard at defense will prosper, in part because defense is so hard to learn.

And that's the problem. Yes, there are skills to be learned, even mastered. However, even then the game's AI can take it away from you, leaving you with an overwhelming feeling of frustration (when you lose) or relief (when you win), because of the fickle nature of the game. This tends to be muted in multiplayer contest, so I suggest you look there for a contest.

Replay Value : 75
Oddly enough, only the determination to see your name on the leader board or to increase the skills of your created player (through answering trivia questions and so on) will keep you going in single-player mode, especially once you learn to manipulate the controls. Multiplayer contests are fun, but really no more so than in previous versions of the game.

Overall : 82
It's not that NBA Showtime is a bad game. It is, in fact, a fun b-ball arcade experience. But then so were its predecessors. If you really like the series, you may want to upgrade; if you want to see what this legendary franchise has to offer someone who hasn't played it, I suggest a game at a friend's house or a rental first. Of course, the game's fanatics will disagree, but that's the point... why preach to the converted?

By: Brooks Simpson 12/27/99

© 1998-2006 Sports Gaming Network. Entire legal statement. Feedback

Other Links:
[Free Credit Report  |   Car Insurance Quotes  |   Designer Shoes  |   Outdoor Equipment

MVP Baseball 2003
Street Hoops
Mad Catz Xbox Hardware

Inside Pitch 2003
MLB Slugfest 20-04
Tennis Masters Series