Tecmo NBA Basketball


Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 6

Sound: 4

Gameplay: 7

Overall: 7

After seemingly basing an entire company on a football game, Tecmo had a lot going for them. They had people in the palm of their hands and it was time to branch out into other sports before the 16-bit era fully took effect. "Tecmo NBA Basketball" is an odd one, in one way completely arcade style, in another trying desperately to become a true sim.

All the usual suspects from Tecmo's sports games are here. While EA was still getting their basketball franchise going, "NBA" offered up full season play, entire rosters, incredible stat tracking, and more. It's a complete package outside of the actual game, one so strong that some companies didn't catch up for years.

Once the tip-off begins, things get a bit goofy. There's a solid engine in place, letting gamers actually set up their offense if they want. The players actually run a very basic pick-and-roll when not handling the ball, though the pick part is sort of lost; the programming doesn't allow for it. Someone can usually break out in the open for an easy two.

The main problem is that you don't need all that. Simply in bounding the ball correctly usually gives the guard a head start, enough to run the length of the court uncontested. Shooting percentages are usually in the mid-70s meaning scoring is quick, easy, and frequent. It gives the game a solid pace, just maybe not one you're looking for.

Beyond some of the more infrequent rules, everything is covered. Twenty and full timeouts are available, though you still have all the time you need to make substitutions when necessary. Offensive and defensive fouls are included in an occasionally frustrating manner. Simply running into a defending player is enough for a call.

That's really not the most pressing issue. "NBA" looks great, but flicker is the killer here, blocking the ball handler, the player controller sprite, and the ball from view. It's oppressive and never really lets up. It's a rough trade off to an otherwise excellent graphics engine that even includes a few brief cinematics solidifying the game as a true Tecmo piece. The sprites are well animated and look great. You can't tell one player from another by looking; the on screen text does that for you.

Very little exists in the audio department. Repetitive and monotonous music plays over the game and menus. It can be turned off for generic crowd noise and sound effects. Those aren't much better and everything seems way too sparse without the music, not matter how bad it may be.

It's sort of pointless to rant about how the game doesn't resemble the real NBA game. It was still far beyond anything offered before, not to mention as realistic as 8-bit basketball can get. The lapses are many, but most are excusable given the hardware. It still stands as a solid arcade style sports gaming experience even today, something very few sports games ever accomplish.


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Last updated: Friday, February 25, 2005 08:04 AM