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Slam City with Scottie Pippin (Sega 32X) artwork

Slam City with Scottie Pippin (Sega 32X) review

"Slam City - Population: None"

You know, as much as I make fun of the FMV games that crawled onto the Mega Drive add-ons to act as the ballast that sunk them, kicking and screaming, beneath the waves of irrelevance, at least some of them make sense. FMV shooters where you can just line actors up and have them fall over when mowed down makes some kind of sense, right? Some of those adventure titles aren’t awful awful. They were still mostly bad as games, but their conception wasn’t wholly head scratching. Even that one where you just pasted together different video clips to a few C&C Music Factory tunes made a warped kind of horrible sense regardless of how dull it was. What I’m saying is that if you’re going to shoehorn FMV into a one-on-one basketball simulation, you’re probably not moving along the lines of logic. You’re just desperate to find some way to make FMV relevant. I feel for you, hypothetical developer; you’re doomed to fail.

Slam City (featuring Scottie “I’d be starring in that awful Bugs Bunny crossover film if it wasn't for glory-hogging Jordan” Pippen) is going to get its limited praise early in this review so I can get on with making fun of it. So let’s talk about Ace -- that’s you -- who has strolled into a grungy underground B-Ball court dripping with 90’s ghetto cliche. Why, yes, it does offer slow pan shots of colourfully graffitied walls and, of course, there’s a small troupe of kids breaking out fly hip-hop moves in the corner courtesy of a boombox. It also has Scottie “I can’t believe the only thing I’ll ever headline is this awful 32X game” Pippen chilling out nearby, telling you that if you own the court, he’ll consider giving you a game.

So, own the court you shall! All you need to do is beat four ballers wearing saggy muscle shirts and sporting silly 90’s names -- like Fingers and Mad Dog. In a shocking twist that spits in the face of FMV game actors everywhere, most of these fellows can dribble a ball and have something approaching charisma enough to make them an engageable cast. They’ll clown around with each other on the bleachers and sling smack talk around without prejudice. Oh, they’ll slander anyone’s lack of ball skills will this crazy lot, telling colleagues that they run down shot clocks because they’re too busy posing for photos, or suggesting that poor Ace take up a more suitable sport. Have you ever considered tennis, one smugly inquires.

Ace will receive the lion’s share of mocking, seeing as you’ll spend a large portion of Slam City (featuring Scottie “I only agreed to do this because they let me rap over the game’s intro” Pippen) trying to figure out what the hell to do in sessions that never seem to end. Viewed in a weirdly slanted third person view, your camera is placed directly behind Ace as he takes on his four challengers. It… doesn't look awful. In fact, due to the lack of awkward loading times, the action is almost seamless and often looks like it’s actually two people playing basketball against each other. I was not prepared for that.

I’m going to have to start talking about playing the game soon. I’m running out of nice things to say. The soundtrack was done by the same guy who worked on Toejam & Earl, so that’s pretty good?

Turns out the best way to have your FMV game look fluid is to not have all those jarring little pauses while the game loads up the animation that corresponds to the player’s interaction. The best way to achieve this? Have as little interaction as you can. This is slightly unfair to Slam City (featuring Scottie “even Charles Barkley got his name slapped on a better basketball game than mine” Pippen) that does do a good job of splicing all their video together without being overly obvious about it, but you still don’t have a lot to do. While attacking the net, you can shuffle around trying to make room for yourself, giving yourself the option to either attempt a hook shot, be less styling and pull off a jump shot or, if you feel the opportunity is there, break away from your marker. Pull this off and Ace will hit an overly elaborate dunk, which will either contain more flips than is physically possible or look like he was fired out of a cannon towards the net, omitting the bit where he plainly lands flat on his back in either a pile of concealed padding or spine-breaking, wheelchair-inducing agony. It is ludicrously entertaining -- it’s a shame you’ll probably never see it. Breaking away from your marker doesn’t seem to follow any kind of set rule and, if you attempt it and fail, then you lose the ball.

It should make some kind of sense. Take part in a practise game, and you’ll get an on-screen prompt letting you know when the situation is conducive for leaving your opponent dead and slamming it right in his face via gravity-defying overkill. Play around with this long enough and you get a feel for when these windows of opportunity will present themselves. Take your training to the court and… find that it doesn’t seem to work as often as it should. It soon becomes obvious that the risk involved in attempting a break isn’t worth the hassle when you can just shuffle around a bit into some room then try and pull off a jump shot. Odds are you’ll win the rebound should you miss.

Not that losing the ball is a big deal; defending against your opponent also only offers you three actions (kind of -- shot blocking and ball blocking are two different actions, yo) but it’s easier to just shuffle around in front of the other player and wait for the shot clock to run down so you can recollect the ball. Then repeat the entire cycle endlessly because these one-on-one games seem to drag on towards eternity. All those endless games help you nail the game’s obtuse timing, sure, and it means you do get to hear some of the better heckles over and over again until even that wears thin but… was I working towards a positive here? I don’t remember what it was.

Slam City (featuring Scottie “the guy who had severe words to share with his agent about the quality of products he’s willing to slap his name on after this game was released” Pippen) can be learnt. You can battle against the humdrum repeatedness in order to soak up exactly no rewards of worth while even the few commendable features lose more and more worth by the soul-wrenching second. You can learn to own the court and eventually earn your solo game against Scottie Pippen, just as he promised. The real question is why the hell would you?


EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (August 09, 2015)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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Masters posted August 12, 2015:

Ha, funny review. I like Pippen's numerous 'nicknames.' Did he really rap in this??
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EmP posted August 12, 2015:


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