NBA All-Star Challenge

This is a ball. Perhaps you'd like to bounce it.

How do we turn sports, as physical, real-life games, into video games?  There is necessarily some abstraction, some reduction, some kind of stripping-down to a group of core mechanics.  You can’t really make a game that’s like playing basketball, for example, so you have to make up a game that represents basketball in a suitably pleasing fashion.

This is extremely difficult.

I’m not sure what the underlying mechanics are in NBA All-Star Challenge, but they are certainly not very pleasing.  The closer to the peak of your jump, the more likely you are to get the ball in the net, but it still seems random (perhaps based on the stats of the player you’re using).  In order to block a shot, you must predict your opponent, which is essentially impossible if you’re playing against the computer.  There is no way to block a shot on reaction; you jump at exactly the same speed, after all, and if he’s already started jumping, there’s no way you’ll come between the ball and the net before the shot happens.  Stealing is extremely difficult due to the isometric angle and the difference in horizontal and vertical distances, especially since perspective is erased when sprites don’t change size no matter how close or far from the viewer they are.

Basically, as far as representations of basketball go, this is a poor example.  Even taken as a simple electronic, abstract game, it’s not very fun at all.  Let’s see if any of the later ones are any better.