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GBA Basketball Two on Two (Apple II) artwork

GBA Basketball Two on Two (Apple II) review


"Shortly after my friend Aric pasted me in GBA Basketball Two-on-Two on his Apple IIgs--retribution for all the RPGs I'd solved--I found the IIe version cheap at Babbage's. I felt frugal--it probably didn't have all the extras, like the crowd that disappeared as it became doubtful I would avoid getting doubled up. But it had two-on-two play, which had to be a step up from the wonderful One on One, and the back-of-box blurbs seemed comparable, if the in-game pictures didn't. Jealousy..."



Shortly after my friend Aric pasted me in GBA Basketball Two-on-Two on his Apple IIgs--retribution for all the RPGs I'd solved--I found the IIe version cheap at Babbage's. I felt frugal--it probably didn't have all the extras, like the crowd that disappeared as it became doubtful I would avoid getting doubled up. But it had two-on-two play, which had to be a step up from the wonderful One on One, and the back-of-box blurbs seemed comparable, if the in-game pictures didn't. Jealousy and youth supplied a few other reasons, forgotten now.

What I do remember is the no-frills approach: no crowd behind the basket, stands to the side apparently filled with garbage, and faceless beanpole players. The worst bit, though, is that every possession's a ten-second violation. In the backcourt, you call plays to determine how your computer-controlled player wanders around. The computer chooses its defense, zone being the more effective choice, as defenders circle unpredictably there. Then, your c-clamp-legged players limp down the court. Even on fast breaks, where the player stealing the ball always dawdles just ahead. The first time I got one, I held the action button down too long from impatience. My player jumped and landed--traveling.

With a 24-second shot clock, then, two-thirds of the game is sloshy backcourt dribbling, interrupted by beeps when you choose your play. Except near the end, when the computer calls a time-out. You get five of these per half, and they skip over the backcourt nonsense. If the score's not close, it's worth not being allowed to set up your defense. It's kind of funny, too, when the computer calls time out with two minutes left--just as he's about to cross half-court.

The computer players can be dumb, too. Your teammate passes when you're open, but you also can't make him shoot when you have position underneath. Fortunately, your opponents aren't much better. The easiest way to win is to set up a screen offense, and if the computer plays man-to-man, your computer-guy bottles up the other two. If you're lucky, you'll dunk and get a small crunching noise. Between this and some admittedly neat behind-the-back give-and-go possibilities, you can shoot eighty percent or better and win your six-team league and the four-team playoff that follows.

I did so in my second league season--casually mentioning this to Aric, who hadn't won yet--and put the game aside. I didn't come back to it until knee surgery prevented me from the real thing. The old complaints came back quickly, but I found that deliberately handicapping myself made for an interesting game. I chose the opposite stats from my dream team: outside shooting, dribbling and stealing over inside shooting, quickness and jumping. I tried making sense of the different offensive and defensive plays and even playing with the weakest computer-companion of Kareem Ugrin, Magic Lyndon and Wilt Dulmage.

It actually got fun. I developed an outside game, almost outrunning the my own three-point hook shots and turnaround jumpers, traded passes to get my teammate open, and even defended beyond just standing in front of the other guy. When I finally hit the championship game, I busted out cheap delaying tactics that worked gloriously. Overall, it was a good replacement for pain pills when I couldn't play basketball, and less addictive, certainly.

I'm not sure I should have looked that hard to find the good parts out, but they are there. It's too bad GBA Basketball takes so long to get going. It's also too bad I can't get the IIgs version working, and not just to punk Aric one more time after winning it. I see how it could be exciting and thoughtful, and I remember fast breaks didn't take forever. But I've found enough cool old games, and GBA Basketball worked when needed.

Rating: 5/10

aschultz's avatar
Community review by aschultz (November 02, 2010)

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