Normally I am not a fan of sports games. I see them littering my favorite used game stores for cheap prices, occupying valuable space that would be better served with good games. But alas, they exist, and are still popular with most gamers, generally speaking. As such, the only two basketball games I ever played growing up were Dr. J vs Bird (Atari), Double Dribble (NES), and NBA Jam (SNES). None of these games are college basketball games, but they were the only basketball themed video games that I knew of at the time. It wasn't until years later that I found out about NCAA Final Four Basketball or NCAA Basketball on the SNES, so I never had a chance to play them.
So what about the three games that I did play? Well, here is a brief rundown:
Magic vs Bird:
The first basketball game I remember playing in the basement of my childhood home. It was on the Atari system my brother had. It was a half-court, one-on-one style game. The graphics were not all that impressive by today's standards, but they worked. The players moved slow, and overall the game felt slow and stiff, much like the Atari joystick that was used to play it.
Wow, NBA Jam. Here is a game that really takes me back. I remember first playing this game in the 7-11 near my Jr. High School. Kids would gather around the arcade machine and challenge each other for bragging rights. This game was so popular that kids would often quote the games quirky announcer in everyday life. "Boom Shak-a-laka" "He's on fire!" were phrases often heard during the school day, and amidst kids playing a little real life driveway basketball. In fact, "Boom Shak-a-laka" can still occasionally be heard to this very day. That's how much this game impacted popular culture, at least on a local level.
The SNES port of this game was not much different. Sure the graphics were scaled down a little bit, but the experience of using bobble-head like players in a game of 2 on 2 to humiliate your friends was still there. It was as fun as the arcade cabinet version was, at least when played on a larger screen.
The only other game I played that related to basketball was Double-Dribble on the NES. Who knew that Konami made a sports game? I sure didn't until I saw it on the title screen. Hmmm.... Of the three games mentioned in today's blog, this one was the one I played the least.The graphics fall somewhere between Dr. J vs Larry Bird and NBA Jam.
So weather or not you are a basketball junkie, March Madness can provide even the casual fan with some fun and excitement. Maybe you will find a Cinderella team, and follow them deep in to the tournament, or if basketball is really not your thing, you can try popping in one of these games, and having a few minutes worth of fun.