Back in the day before every sports game was licensed up the wazoo, this was a pretty big game, featuring two of the best in basketball at the time - Larry Bird vs. Dr. J, aka Julius Erving. Although the manual claims that the two characters have very different abilities, with Dr. J being a better jumper and faster getting to the basket, while Bird is a better shooter and rebounder, I don’t believe it. There is also apparently a fatigue factor that affects gameplay…and again, I didn’t really notice. Maybe I’m not enough of a basketball expert…or maybe I’m just not strategizing enough. (I never claimed to be good at this) Whether they have different abilities or not, neither of them really “Slam” – they both kind of lay it up on every shot.
I don’t suppose Electronic Arts saw much virtue in marketing the game as “A blistering basketball Lay-up Championship…who will be able gently drop the most balls in the hoop?!?!”. Rules are very sparse, but there is a ref, who will stroll on-screen to call penalties, such as “hacking”, which you seem to get a lot more often on the Pro difficulty setting – which could have been called “You Will Lose Mode”.
On Pro difficulty, The computer blocks almost every shot, advance to the net or rebound you try to get. He’s about one step away from kneeing you in the groin and smothering you with a pillow while you roll around in agony. The message you’ll probably see the most, if you play as badly as I do, is “Offence didn’t clear the ball”. This being a half-court game, of course you have to take the ball back upon possession… but who wants to do that? I’m lazy! This is a really fun game…for about 15 minutes – the gameplay gets repetitive very, very quickly, and keeping the game set on 4 minute quarters seems to drag it out forever, still, there’s not as many good 2 player c64 games as there should be… and it’s nice to see how far EA sports has come in presenting the game.
|GRAPHICS - 4/10|
|Not Good. No background, odd faces, unintelligible jersey logos…it’s about as bare bones as you can get and still see that it’s basketball. Still, it’s better than a lot of previous attempts at basketball we saw in the day. |
|SOUND - 4/10|
|There’s one annoying song that plays in the menu screen, and that’s about it. Also the end of quarter buzzer just scares the hell out of me when it rings and you’re not expecting it. I guess this game has something in common with survival horror games in that respect. What depth!|
|PLAYABILITY - 6/10|
|The control is great, and you can always do what you want to do…unless you’re on pro difficulty, and it almost becomes a sumo simulator with the computer pushing up on you like Konishiki. The main problem is repetition…there’s not much to do here, and it gets old fast. |
|OVERALL - 6/10|
|Shallow and repetitive…but fun for a little while. Interesting side note…a sequel was made for this a few years later that dumped Dr. J for a young talent named Michael Jordan.|