NBA Showtime


Review by Nathan Dunsmore



Graphics: 7

Sound: 6

Gameplay: 7

Overall: 7


A legacy that began in the arcades with Arch Rivals, Midway built a foundation on NBA Jam and NBA Hangtime being some of the best and easiest hands-on titles available to sports and non sports fans alike. With Acclaim’s later installments, however, leaving the Jam series in tatters, the most appropriate way to describe Midway’s first 3D basketball outing is as the descendent of NBA Hangtime. Like all its predecessors, NBA Showtime shreds nearly every page out the rulebook and tosses them straight into the fire.

nbashowtime1n64.jpg (43383 bytes)The second the start button is pressed, Showtime hits the ground running. Select one of 29 official NBA teams, two players, and the game is underway. Through progress, points are awarded to build on player’s strengths and weaknesses. A favorite among all Midway sports games, the create-a-player feature replaces the normal fantasy characters with the team mascots and watching them in action is a wild sight to behold.

It is almost the type of basketball that is restricted on the playgrounds of elementary school. Goal tending is still enforced though it can work for or against you. In each quarter, fouls are non-penalized until the fifth offense when a free throw is then given to the victimized team. The logical idea behind scoring a free throw would be to center the dot in the warm colored center of a bar as much as possible. However, it is far more lenient than that, the dot can be pinpointed anywhere and the ball will often dive through the net.

Fires and team fires are still the main specialties. Swishing three dunks solo or three double dunks or ally oops in a row with your partner (this is where goaltending assists) grants unlimited speed and makes three pointers a sure bet. Sooner or later the opposing team will score, extinguishing the hot streak, but the ball loses no air. This is precisely how Showtime dribbles, never letting up from start to finish, always dazzling with endless entertainment.

In comparison to the arcade machine, the graphics and sound, as expected, do not reach the rim of the basket as the Dreamcast does. The opening cinematic, player role call, and replay reel are on the short list of allowable sacrifices. The now defunct NBA on NBC theme track is present in the menu selections. During play, low-key street hip-hop style music does a splendid job of filling in the spots of dead air in-between crowd rioting. Tim Kitzrow lends professional voice work as the announcer but his wisecracks are not as off the wall funny as Neil Funk’s from Hangtime. The NBA superstars are modeled very well, albeit a little rougher around the edges and the frame rate chops in from time to time to give them a marionette motion while in mid air. Rebounding, the courts manage a squeaky clean look that reflects some light and shadow. As a direct outcome of rushed development, glitches are detectable. In efforts to steal the ball or foil a shot, the ball and hands of players sometimes gain transparency and pass through one another.

The effect this has on the playability is less than half court. The exhilaration, chaos, and diabolical sensation when pulling out a fire annihilate any chance of glaring problems. Control wise, everything is in the zone. At the right hotspot using the proper player, most two and tree pointers connect. AI is as challenging as it ever was in the arcade, taking advantage of any opening and staging a miraculous comeback at the final seconds of the game. Defeating them always delivers a delicious taste of victory.

Enhancing the excitement four-fold, multi-player is what launches this game into the spotlight. Within a brief twelve minute round, clouds of taunt and laugher will pour, respect will be rewarded, pride will be surrendered, and instant rematches will be challenged. Just goes to show that a home translation can set a console on fire just as it did in the arcades if its most priceless value is preserved.


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Last updated: Wednesday, May 30, 2007 11:18 PM