Company: Electronic Arts
Platform: DOS Personal Computer
Controller: Keyboard or Joystick
Late 80s in my hometown, used to watch MLB and NFL, slowly but firmly, a national TV network (and one regional) showed NBA games, particularly from powerhouses at the time: Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics, but suddenly a team with a rookie player but outstanding and media-friendly gained popularity. In high school, the bald with glasses was very popular, alongside the blond in green, or the Bad Dudes gang. So, when a classmate got his hands on a diskette with a NBA basketball videogame containing those teams and players, inmediatly we created a network of “backups” in our houses, to be able to play with our idols.
The videogame is awesome, containing the most popular teams of those golden years, adding very nice features like clearly distinguish some players sporting their signatures moves like Abdul Jabbar’s “Sky Hook” or the spectacular slam dunks of his Airness. In a very realistic move, the players can get tired, so the videogamer is forced to substitute virtual basketballers during the match.
Other feature to write about is that the videogamer can adjust the duration of the periods, with values of 2, 5, 8 or 12 minutes, which are real-time. The videogame includes a typical arcade mode of a single game against the AI, or between two humans. Also, the level of the AI can be customized between three values, being PreSeason the easiest, and PlayOffs the hardest.
Included teams in the game:
|Conference East||Conference West|
|Boston Celtics||Detroit Pistons||Los Angeles Lakers||Seattle Supersonics|
|Chicago Bulls||New York Knicks||Phoenix Suns||Utah Jazz|
Also, two teams with stars from both West and East Conferences were included, and there are some players there from non-competitive teams (at the time). These two teams are only available in arcade mode, because there is an additional playoff mode, where the duration of each quarter is always of 12 minutes, so playing a match can take a good amount of time.
Finally, the videogame at start, required a question about basketball stats to be rightly answered, otherwise the game will end suddenly. In a heroic exercise of trial and error, we found some values (consider internet was not very common, specially in my hometown, at those years) and we were able to play.
Sega Genesis (Megadrive)
Two years later, a port to the Sega console Genesis appeared, with even more detailed graphics, different teams (in 1991 other teams reached the playoff stage) and even different players per team to reflect the changing nature of rosters in real life. Other new details added were the “apparition” of anchormen, seeing the starter players before each match and a notorious improvement in sound and music.
Thanks to the three buttons of the console’s controller, some options were easier to execute, like using timeouts to make substitutions. In general, this port has more responsive controls than the original version for DOS, and the difficult is practically the same, being the main improvement in the already good graphics.
Also it’s noteworthy than the protagonism of the Celtcs gave room to the Bulls and Pistons momentum, so these two are the powerhouses in this port, the same way, Lakers gave room to the Portland Trail Blazers. The referees in this port are more hard, so calling fouls is more frequent, to a degree that Dennis Rodman got one called almost instantly.
The team changes from one version to the other:
|DOS Port||Genesis Port|
|Seattle Supersonics||San Antonio Spurs|
|Utah Jazz||Portland Trail Blazers|
|New York Knicks||Philadelphia 76ers|
Of course, the All-Stars teams from the two Conferences are here, and you can play with other great players of that time like Chris Mullin or Reggie Miller, who were is less competitive teams.
The videogames had sequels in the consoles Genesis, and Super NES. In these ports, the Bulls were the main protagonists, the rosters and teams were changed reflecting the change of dominating teams during the 90s, and more features were slowly added like more teams or the possibility of creating a new one.
Also this videogame is considered the prequel to the successful series NBA Live, from the same company, from the last part of 20th century to this date.
The idea of playing with the basketball players we idolized at the time was charmful, and the challenges between high school classmates were incredibly funny, because there were fans to practically all the teams in the videogame (a bit more prominently towards Bulls, myself included), so the challenges never got boring. I practically remember a dude who was almost invincible using the Jazz.
And here lies the advantage, or disadvantage, of the videogame. This one is really easy to play, and is more inclined to high scoring matches that, even for those offensive-oriented times, were surrealistic. Even for the time, there were already videogames with the possibility of customizing teams, so lacking this feature was a bit of a letdown if you were looking for a more managerial videogame instead of a more arcade one.
Recomended starting with 2 minutes per quarter setting at PreSeason level, in either port of the videogame.
Console Icon created by Ciro Alfredo Consentino for the program EmuLoader.
Console Icons taken from Retroarch.