NBA Hangtime

Sega CD

Review by Matt Paprocki

Sony Imagesoft


Graphics: 4

Sound: 1

Gameplay: 2

Overall: 2

I've played a lot of street ball in my life. It's easy to find the small group of people necessary and the only other requirement is a ball with a court. In all my years of playing, I still have yet to play against thong wearing, barefoot sumo wrestlers named Fujimoto and Sujimoto in the ghettos of Detroit. I guess that's why we have video games like "NBA Hangtime."

Just to avoid confusion, this game has absolutely no relation to the Midway title of the same name. That game is fun. This game is not. Oh, and Midway's title doesn't have street-hoop playing sumo wrestlers. It's not all about sumos of course. The "NBA" in the title does refer to 81 players from the 94-95 season. Everything is played 2-on-2 on 3-D mode-7 style court. You can take part in a full season mode or just play a quick exhibition, though you will never see any stats.

Mr. Fujimoto and Mr. Sujimoto make their presence felt in the World Tour. Here players select from various three-man squads around the world in order to prove they are the best. You can also play against grass-skirt wearing natives if the fat men aren't disturbing enough for you. The game plays exactly the same no matter which mode you choose.

Dan Patrick has the pleasure of hosting the NBA segments while then up and comer Stuart Scott is stuck introducing the World Tour. Each of the ESPN anchors provides some brief video clips in standard unwatchable Sega CD style. They also lovingly provide useful commentary like "Steal!" and "Three!" Actually, that's not all that useful. In fact, it's a waste. They actually speak more at the end of each game, plugging other games in this abysmal line of sports titles.

Actual gameplay is just flat out awful. All any player needs to do is pick a team with a decent long-range man and it's game over. Since shooting percentages always seem to be in the 90th percentile, it's just comes down to who can make more three's. The view of the court obscures most of the playing field, especially when you move off to the corners. You'll have no idea what happened to your teammate or if he's open for a pass.

In a weak effort to make this one stand out, the developers have added super moves and controllable dunks. These are achieved with various combinations of the D-Pad and the "Super" button (i.e., B). In the World Tour, these pull off "NBA Jam" styled slams. Moves are also available on the defensive end, but their inclusion is only there to make people feel like they got their moneys worth. They have little effect on the gameplay and are hard to get off, though a 300-pound sumo wrestler catching air is rather amusing.

Only the court itself, rotating and scaling with the players, is impressive. All of the NBA's best look exactly alike with the same height and face. Animation is putrid and it seems most of the time was spent working on the super dunks. Digitized player photos during the pre-game and substitution screen barely use four colors apiece. Video clips don't look much better. In fact, the menu is composed entirely of FMV and it makes the choices hard to read.

In addition to the hilarious inappropriate sound effects, the soundtrack is composed entirely of cheap early-90's styled rap. It sounds like they just nabbed the first person off the street and threw him into a studio. Even if that doesn't work, you can just listen to some maddening crowd noise which constantly loops and never reacts to the on-screen action. Personally, I'd like to hear Fujimoto and his pal Sujimoto free styling in the studio.

While every other game in this line tries to be marginally realistic, I guess "NBA Jam" was too popular not to rip-off. This is a terrible game, the only one in the ESPN line not have a cartridge version. Someone in the marketing department was at least smart enough to contain this plague to an easily breakable CD. Oh, and a note to my buddies, F & J: You guys rock!


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Last updated: Sunday, October 31, 2004 09:12 AM