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NBA Hangtime (Nintendo 64) artwork

NBA Hangtime (Nintendo 64) review

"One question pops into mind when playing this game - How can a game that was so fun, so fast, and so easy to play be turned into THIS hideous awful crap?"

One question pops into mind when playing this game - How can a game that was so fun, so fast, and so easy to play be turned into THIS hideous awful crap? It boggles the mind.

NBA Hangtime originally came out in the arcades. It was ported over to the Nintendo 64 early in its lifespan, coming out in February of 1998. It was one of the first games to pretty much require a controller pak, if you wanted to save any data.

Taking allowances for the fact that it is a first generation Nintendo 64 game, NBA Hangtime is STILL awful. It fails in comparision to two Super Nintendo games released, NBA Jam Tournament Edition (which is 3 years older) and NBA Live 97. Perhaps the most frustrating thing is that only a few things make the game maddening to play.

If you're unfamiliar with it's predesscors, NBA Hangtime is two on two basketball with no rules, excluding goaltending and traveling (which you can't do, making it a moot point). Pushing and shoving is encouraged (good way to steal the ball), and there are outrageous mind-blowing inhuman dunks.

Sound like fun? Well, it is, when executed right. Ideally, there should be high-scoring, fun games, with utter chaos erupting on the court. However, NBA Hangtime's difficulty factor TOTALLY ruins this.

How so? Well, it's quite simple. You can't win by more then ten points. EVER. No matter what difficulty you're on, if you lead the computer by ten points, it will IMMEDIATELY storm back.

Think I'm exaggerating? I played the game at all difficulty settings, and never did I lose. A perfect 10 wins and 0 losses. I never beat the computer by more then FIVE, not to mention TEN. My all-time record including all Jam games is 408 wins and 3 losses.

This makes every game tightly contested and somewhat exciting, but sometimes you don't want a tight game. Sometimes you just want to beat the computer by a hundred points and make it scream for its mommy. NBA Hangtime takes away this basic right from the consumer.

And the way it does it is particularly infuriating. The computer will go rabid on you, shoving and pushing, when just a second before it was tame. If it gets the ball, it shoots a three (not before clearing you out though) and makes it, of course. If you're lucky enough to get up enough on the court to take a shot, it will almost never go in unless it's a very short jumper. All three-point attempts will miss, and dunks will be blocked. Once it gets up by a couple points, the computer will go back into the passive mode.

This makes the rest of the game a moot point. You can execute some nifty shots. Fadeaways, hook shots, leaners, they're all in your shooting pallete. Just don't get ten points up on the computer.

Another point about the gameplay - playing defense on an opponent who's off the screen is impossible. This has been a problem since the original NBA Jam in the early 90's, you would think they could do SOMETHING to allievate it by now. It doesn't impede the computer in any way, as often you'll be shoved by a computer opponent who you can't even see down the court.

All rosters are current to the 1997 National Basketball Association season, with some notable exceptions. Shaq, Charles Barkley, and Micheal Jordan are all missing, mainly due to the fact that they had exclusive video game contracts with other companies, a process that would not be repeated again after such games as ''Shaq Fu'' and ''Chaos in the Windy City''. Thankfully, the Toronto Raptors and Vancouver Grizzlies both made it into the game. Well, thankfully for the Raptors, maybe it would be better if the Grizzlies weren't in the game...

Each team has five players ranked in various categories, such as shooting, blocking, and speed. Unfortunately, these abilities don't have a large influence on the game. An average player can hit a three-pointer with Dennis Rodman, or block a shot with Mugsey Bouges. With turbo, any character is fairly fast. Also, two of the attributes (rebounding and clutch) are hidden, with no explanation given as to why. You can make substitutions at halftime to rotate in some fresh bodies.

The main play mode of the game has you enter your initials or code name and a pin number. You pick a team and go head to head against the other thirty-one NBA teams, one by one. After each game you play, you can switch teams if you wish, or just stopping playing. When you want to play again, you just enter your code name or initials and your pin number. Each time you play a game, your stats (win and losses, world records held, teams defeated) are displayed. Pretty nifty, and well-executed.

The other mode of the game is the ''Create-A-Player'' function. This is pretty fun. You can customize all the abilites of your player, including height, weight, uniform, and head picture. Head picture is particularly fun, with choices ranging from a chicken to an old man to Penny Hardaway. You use your created player as you would any other user ID. Just enter your code, and your pin, and you have your player. Everytime you win four games you gain two more attribute points to use on your character. Too bad the game stinks so much, otherwise you might actually want to create a maxed-out character.

NBA Hangtime has the customary options you'd expect in a game. Difficulty is supposed to be adjustable, although it doesn't really matter what you put it at. Computer assistance seems to have absolutely no effect on the gameplay. You can adjust the clock speed - fast to slow, although, why didn't they just make it so that you could change the length of the quarters? Another unanswered question.

Graphically, Hangtime is not bad. The players are scaled very well. As they get towards the bottom of the screen they become larger, towards the top of the screen they get smaller, creating a distance effect. However, the same crowd is used for EVERY game. It's the little things that can get on you...

The sound in Hangtime is excellent. Gone is the morgue feeling prevalent in the earlier efforts. It is replaced by a bouncing vibrant theme, and even a full rap song during halftime. Sound effects are also strong, with each bounce of the ball being heard.

Overall, NBA Hangtime fixes some of the defencies of earlier Jam games. Rosters, graphics, and sounds are all done superbly. However, it denies itself that which made the earlier games so much fun - high intensity, high scoring, fun two on two basketball.

sgreenwell's avatar
Community review by sgreenwell (Date unavailable)

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