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Basketball (Atari 2600) artwork

Basketball (Atari 2600) review

"Shoot some hoops with me, bro."

Basketball (Atari 2600) image

You know, I'm not a very big sport fan. It's not that I hate sports, per se, but I can never watch an entire game because I tend to get antsy after the first segment. However, seeing a game on TV is one thing; actually playing a game is... uh... a whole other ball game...

I'm going to hate myself tomorrow for that one...

I enjoy playing some sports now and then, both real life and video games. If I still owned an Atari 2600, Basketball would be one of the few and proud sports games in my library. I know that sound odd, because one of the main draws to a sports title is its showcase of innovation. Because of that, retro ball games typically fall into obsolescence and are forgotten by all but those who adored them. However, Basketball's main draw for me is its lack of innovation. Above all, it's the game's simplistic play control and ability to engage in the title at your own pace that give it charm.

Basketball screenshotBasketball screenshot

There's nothing complicated about the mechanics. You jog from one side to the other and hit the button to shoot the ball, all whilst avoiding the snatching hands of your opponent. Take a shot from from just the right angle and the orange sphere--represented by a not-orange square--lands perfectly into the hoop. Miss and the ball bounces off, thereby giving your jersey-donning oppressor control of it. The game's simplicity lends itself to the old Atari 2600 rule: depth be damned, bring on the fast-paced gameplay! With only one button and a dearth of flashy moves and maneuvers, the game manages to stay evenly paced, and is thoroughly addictive once you've gotten the mechanics down.

Multiplayer adds that a little 'oomph' to the equation. Without being able to play against a pal, the game would have almost no meaning or worthy attributes. Playing against the computer is lightly amusing until you've gotten the gist of its playing style, then you can mercilessly tromp it. It eventually devolves into a celebrity boxing match between Fiona Apple and Kane Hodder, with you playing the masked maniac. The only issue is locating a friend that's open-minded enough to enjoy Atari... Once you have, you can then engage in the age old game of snark and trash-talking, all while beating your buddy senseless at a blocky arcade-style ball game.

Basketball isn't a great game in comparison to the rest of the Atari library, but its uncomplicated mechanics and overall quick pace make it a hit. Its best feature has to be the multiplayer, but the game can be a moderate joy for a while in single player mode. An ancient title it may be, but it certainly isn't waste. If you get the chance, do give this game a play.*

*...Unless you happen to be an Atari-hating whippersnapper, then you shouldn't bother.

JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (October 14, 2010)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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