I have no doubt that this is an excellent Basketball Game. Look, I even capitalized Basketball Game. I’m sure that, based on the pedigree of the other ’96 EA Sports titles, this is an excellent addition. The problem is that I’m completely unqualified to talk about how good or bad this obviously-alright basketball game is. Sure, if this were NBA Jam then I’d be able to say boom shakalaka or something. Maybe this game is on fire. I liked NBA Jam. As a kid it even gave me some sort of appreciation for the Charlotte Hornets for some reason. I have no idea why. Now that team doesn’t even exist anymore and I don’t know what to believe!
My issue is not with sports games. I like sports games. I just don’t really like basketball. It’s probably a great game and all, but I don’t find it interesting. You have dudes running back and forth, sneakers squeaking on hardwood, and dunking. You don’t get more points for dunking no matter how stylish or aggressive you do it. I just don’t understand. I can tell you that in NBA Live ’96 that when someone does a dunk they do it in slow motion and it looks pretty badass. Likely, my disinterest lies entirely in the fact that the NBA season lines up almost perfectly with the NHL season and I’m a huge hockey fan. Sure, I follow football, but football only happens two days a week, it’s not that demanding. Baseball is too much work to follow… they play, what, like 900 games a season or something ridiculous? Pfft.
Anyway, it’s basketball. It’s isometric-view basketball. With dunks.
I will say this, the game begins with you having to perform a draft lottery for the Toronto Raptors and Vancouver Grizzlies. This was a fascinating piece of information and historical recreation. These days we have the luxury of downloads to fix our broken rosters, and since the games always come out before the season starts, those roster updates are totally necessary to have the game be closer to the real thing. In NBA Live ’96, you basically get to make up 2 team seasons from scratch! And since all your players are, like, the dregs, you get to emulate what it’s like for real expansion teams when they show up and try to compete and end up basically unsuccessful for repeated seasons because player development takes time. Amazing!
In conclusion, basketball.