White Men Cant Jump
You might be surprised to find out that I think that this game has decent control that once you get the hang of, you can really start taking others to school. In fact, other than being a little slippery at times, I think that the control for this game works very well. The sound, while being completely generic is about all that is needed in this game. The sound quips of the players going back and forth is okay, but suffers from the fact that you'll hear the same one over and over. Variety would have been nice, but then again we look at the time that this game was made and you can let it slide. The graphics are great. The players consist of detailed sprites and the backgrounds are rendered in 3D with texture mapping that the Jaguar manages to pull off. When the action gets intense, the game's frame rate can slow to a crawl but this wasn't anything horrible at the time that the game was released.
The gameplay is decent. You have to square off against a bunch of other teams to raise enough money to get to the huge tournament and try to take your two-player team to the top. If you win, you win money to help get on your way to the tournament. If you lose, you lose money. It's a great way to keep you playing and challenging better and better teams and is quite innovative.
At this point, you're probably wondering why I am heaping such praise onto a game that I considered the worst game ever. In fact, I've praised the graphics, sounds, control and gameplay. What's so wrong with it? It all comes down to two things: the story and the tournament.
The story has absolutely nothing to do with the movie and was detailed above. Earn money. Get to big tournament. Can you win in the big tournament? This isn't a bad story line necessarily, but the story takes time to build up this great tournament. You can play the game for hours to get enough cash to finally make it to the tournament, as I did. There are 15 different teams in the game, so you figure that you'll be placed into this insanely tough tournament where you will end up facing at least 7 of those, and maybe even a mystery team or two, right? WRONG. You play ONE GAME. One game! That's it! You win, you have just won the huge tournament. You lose, it's all over. You go back to the streets to try again. What the heck?
I remember spending so much time working on my game to finally make it to this tournament, and just when I finally got into the game, it slaps me in the face. I won the first game of the tournament by a large margin and was ready for the next round. Suddenly, I get the "Congratulations!" screen and I am trying to figure out if my Jaguar screwed up or if the game has a glitch. Unfortunately, that's it. The game is over. This is the most unsatisfying "ending" to a video game ever. It seems like Atari wanted to make this into a really nice, deep game but decided that the second half of the game didn't really have to exist. This completely ruins the experience, and you have NO reason to ever play the game again. Throw in the towel, this game is done.
That ending, and that ending alone ruins what could have been an interesting challenger to the NBA Jam games that were popular at the time. Instead, we end up with a game that is over as soon as we start to like it. This game is actually worse than games that are bad from start to finish because it had so much potential, but Atari decided that they didn't need to spend a few days finishing it off and instead rushed this horrible game to market. Don't get lured in by the graphics, sound, control or initial thoughts of gameplay. Avoid this game like the plague. It gets the overall rating of 5% only because it comes with a packed in Team Tap that you can use for NBA Jam.