Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Continental Circus [Amstrad CPC] - Beeping Reviews

The Hindleyak bandwagon rolls through town once more! More racing capers this time round, and an inability to read the instruction manual. Bear with me on that...

This is one of the better Amstrad racing games and most likely deserves a proper review so who knows? I may do a scripted version of this if I manage to beat all the tracks.

Let's go!

Friday, 17 October 2008

GTA: San Andreas [PS2] - Road Rage video

A project donated to the Illogicopedia. Go there for some fun!


Music by Catatonia, copyrighted.

International Superstar Soccer [N64] - strategy guide

Recently I've been revisiting some old games for various consoles, particularly the N64. This weekend I'm bored so I'm going to try and give you some tips for succeeding on level 5 of International Superstar Soccer 64.

Preamble

Upon its release in 1997, ISS64 was immediately hailed as a revolution in football gaming. Whilst the graphics are a bit ropey by 2011 standards, the gameplay was unmatched and this is why the game still holds up well in today's realism-obsessed gaming society. I expect that pretty soon, as the game approaches its 15th birthday, it will squeeze onto the radar of retro gaming (Wii Virtual Console, anyone?) to such an extent that ISS64 can reach a whole new generation of video gamers. This is a good thing, because there are so many bad 'modern' football games it's unbelievable.

Teams

(See also: Detailed Teams Guide)

ISS has thirty-five teams to choose from, each with their own strengths and weaknesses reflecting their real life counterparts from 1996. On level 5, the gap between the best and worst is remarkably evident in match situations: Brazil will outrun you and smack in headers with unbelievable consistency whilst South Korea will get tired after about three minutes.

I always used to pick England, who are one of the best teams in the game, but wanted a bit more of a challenge so switched to Wales and won a few cups with them. I'm currently playing as South Korea. Yeah, don't ask why... I think it's because they've got the lowest stats in the game, with quite a deficiency in stamina, shot accuracy and goalkeeper strength - a bit of a challenge playing with them, you might say.

I'm not saying you should pick these guys, because winning the World League is a big enough task in itself, even with Italy, France or Argentina. In fact I would advise against Korea as they suck royally. However, for the purpose of (most of) this guide I shall playing as them in my quest to capture the prestigious World League trophy. Am I mad? Maybe. In a warm up game I lost 3-2 to Norway so the signs aren't good. Still, you've got to get used to a new team before you can select tactics accordingly, and it often takes a few games to get it right. On level 5, formation, team line-up and marking are vitally important, so take a bit of time to figure out the best formations before saving them to your controller pak. A few exhibition games should give you the opportunity to do this and stand you in good stead for the tougher (toughest?) task to come.

Here's a few pointers.
  • The Paraguay goalkeeper, Leone, is also an attacker(!) He's pretty good at free kicks - you could set him as your default taker but it's a bit of a risk. Always fun in a multiplayer game though!
  • Brazil's curling and crossing ability is unreal. You can't really beat them in the air so might want to play low passes. Allejo (Ronaldo) is the game's best player, rated 90 - if he gets the ball, pray he misses.
  • England have some awesome players. R. Banks is the game's best goalkeeper and T. Keegan will rip you apart given the chance.
  • Argentina, France and Italy are very dangerous, all-round teams, especially when computer controlled.
~~~~
For more detailed team info including statistics,
see the Retro Yakking ISS64 Teams Guide.

~~~~

Now, go and win everything

Hold on a minute there! First of all you've got to assess your squad. Some teams have strong benches, whilst for others (such as South Korea), reserves are just as bad as --if not worse than-- the rest of the team so some squad rotation can be employed. Throughout the course of a season you will end up using all sixteen of your players, save maybe the sub keeper - for some reason goalies never get injured, or at least I've never experienced it.

Often you'll be tempted to play the sub keeper in the outfield when your team is injury or suspension-hit, and sometimes you'll actually have no choice. Never mind, I've scored loads of goals with goalkeepers played up front. If you follow the rest of this guide, hopefully your skill will override any player's inadequacies, even the really crappy ones.

I would recommend a 4-3-3 formation, especially for weaker sides, but when you are more assured and comfortable with your team's players, tactics etc. you'll want to tinker with your own. Have the front men central, close to each other (you'll have to use the 'place' formation tool) so that you can score from any rebounds - there'll be loads of these, especially against rubbish goalies and fatigued defenders. Set your side backs to join the attack and place them slightly ahead of your central defender(s).

Have a backup formation of 5-3-2 (saved to the controller pak, of course) in case one of your defenders gets sent off so you can move a midfielder to defence and take a man from the attack to put him in midfield. Or, if you prefer, lose a midfielder and go more central - you'll be surprised how often this works.

Next, marking. I usually set my central midfielder to mark the equivalent opposition player and the side backs to stick with my opponent's attackers. It isn't a complete necessity to mark up but I prefer it as I play to pressure the man with the ball as much as possible. Don't bother with the rest of the stuff (preset strategies etc), it's too complicated and I can't get it to work. Besides, you shouldn't need it.

OK, you're ready

Now it's time to play some football. As you enter the first World League game you'll have maximum stamina levels (indicated by the yellow bar to the left of the player's name). This will be a luxury rarely afforded you on level five, but don't be overly worried if you lose as there are plenty more games to make up for it - 69, in fact. I reckon you'll have to get about 150 points to win the league - that's the equivalent of 50 wins. It's different every time, however, as the whole thing's random but you will find that Brazil, England etc. are usually in the top eight.

Check the other team's formation. It's usually a five man midfield but occasionally a team will pack the defence. I hate it when teams do this as there are so many defenders to beat. Don't get het up though, you can beat these guys if you remain positive. Look on the bright side, you can afford to dwell in the midfield a bit and maybe play an extra man up front.

But what about scoring goals?

I'm getting to it, jeez. Before you can even score you've got to get the ball. The more you give the computer possession, the more likely you are to lose.

Basically there are two types of tackle: soft and hard.

  • Obviously, hard (slide) tackles are more likely to give away fouls but I would say that, used correctly, both are just as effective. If the opponent is running with the ball and you are also moving, use hard tackles - you have to time it so that you are aiming for the ball rather than the man or you may give away a foul.
  • On all other occasions, use soft tackles. Usually the computer will auto select the man nearest the ball. Move your player directly adjacent to the opponent with the ball and repeatedly tap the button. About 50% of the time you'll come away with the ball, and this percentage is increased if the opponent is stationary. If in doubt, use the soft tackle button.

Be alert, as often the computer (even Brazil and Argentina) will make some completely stupid passes in their own half/penalty area enabling you to tackle them and be in on goal in no time. In the first half, you can sometimes get the ball straight back when you've been tackled by using a soft tackle.

As your players tire, though, they will be less able to react to a tackle, usually falling like a sack of spuds or stopping statuesque for about 5 seconds. Remember this works both ways, though: bring on some fresh legs in crucial positions (such as central midfield) and pressure the defence like mad.

That stupid Allejo, the %&*^%"#!

It's not all easy. Often you can't even get close to an opponent in possession, resulting in some almost unavoidable goals (stupid goalkeeper). What is important is that you score more than the other team. Well duh, that's the point of football, you might say, and you are right. You live and die by your decisions in front of goal - this is where the game is won. You can't really experience this in the training mode so you'll have to do some exhibition games to practice.

There are lots of ways to score but, as in many footy games (FIFA Soccer, PES etc.), there's a really cheap way of carving out an opportunity that results in a goal more often than not. It involves outrunning the goalkeeper, which is really quite easy once you get the hang of things.

Approach the goalie head on and he'll come out to challenge you. Just as he is about to dive, change direction suddenly by jerking the analogue stick (cough cough). Running diagonally often suffices. Having cleared the keeper, quickly revert back to moving towards goal and press the shoot button to score in the open net.

As you might already know, though, some of those pesky defenders may follow you all the way; I suggest shooting as soon as you beat the keeper for best results.

There's variations on this rule but the basic concept is the same - get yourself in a position to draw the keeper whilst still staying far enough away to evade his greedy clutches. Easy, yeah? No. Often it will result in too narrow an angle to shoot so you've just got to keep trying. One way to avoid this is to sprint across goal around the penalty spot area and once you reach the far post take a shot. Once you get the hang of it you are laughing. If you have, say, 20 shots on goal, about 5 of these will be goals, so keep trying it, and refer to the video below for some pointers.



Other methods

Set pieces
  • If your players have poor stats, don't bother trying to score directly from free kicks; it never works on level 5 because goalkeepers are too good. Instead, put a low pass just past the wall and have a player run across the penalty area to shoot. Often it'll be a defender as they are generally unmarked from set pieces. This method will get you a goal 1/8 times, as opposed to never with the direct shot. That is, unless you have a curler in your team, in which case you can aim to swerve the ball into the top corner of the goal. This requires some practice so use the free kick training option to try it out.
  • Corners can be handled the same way, but, just like Stoke City, it's more successful to get the ball in the mix and hope it goes into the net. Use the cross button (Left C) and set the meter to 3/4 power; aim for about halfway between the penalty spot and six yard line; frantically mash the shoot button as the ball enters the penalty area and hopefully by some fluke you might get a head to it, or it goes in off a defender or something.
  • You can't score from a goal kick (well, I've never done it), but try and get the ball as far up the field as possible. Don't bother throwing the ball from the keeper's hands, always kick clear - you don't want to chuck the ball to an attacker, gifting them a goal. You could drop and run (Down C) for a second or two but still wallop the ball forward with Left C.

Long balls

Recently I've been having some success with long balls. Every time you get the ball in your own half, blast it up the field towards the general position of your attackers. Since you've got a bunch of them grouped around the centre, it's likely one will be waiting, and even if an opposition defender gets the ball you can quickly tackle them and advance towards goal. It all happens pretty fast but you won't get blisters from constantly passing the ball about. Good if you have terrible midfielders.

Passing/Through balls

Don't bother passing too much in your own half of the field, instead clear as soon as possible. The Up C button can often produce some brilliant through passes in your opponent's third of the field. If you're playing a passing game it's worth using it. A lot.

The regular pass button gives the ball to feet which can actually be just as effective sometimes, but watch out for the pesky offside trap. I'm sure the game's logic on the offside rule is flawed - not surprising, given its complexity. I'll bet even Alan Hansen sometimes struggles to grasp the 'two defenders' concept', despite the confident front he exudes when 'chatting' with Lawro and Lineker.

Penalties

Penalties, as in real life football, are a matter of pot luck. In any case, I've never found a sure-fire way of scoring every time, but try this:
  • Have a player with good shot accuracy take them (via the team line up screen) and aim for the corners.
  • Hit shoot then swiftly and decisively change to an opposite corner - with luck, the goalie will be rooted to the spot and it'll go sailing in. It doesn't always happen this way, though, because sometimes the goalie will be too good for your crummy South Korean penalty taker anyway!
From a rebound, I think I've only ever scored once because the goalie always, without fail, manages to get to it first. The exception to this is if you hit the post or bar, in which case there's a chance you can follow up and score while the goalie's still on the ground.

In shootouts, the best line-ups are usually the default ones, but make sure your players with the best shot accuracy are in the first five, preferably (and most often) attackers. From then, order them according to shot accuracy. Remember that defenders have a larger shot area so are generally less accurate.

Ah, brilliant. I won my first game!

Well done! Remember, though, it's a marathon, not a sprint. You may have won but your star striker is injured and your midfield general got sent off. In addition, your defenders were run into the ground and as a result have dangerously low stamina levels for game two. The real challenge starts now - playing with a depleted squad, that is. Well, I can't help you out much personally (I can't play football for beans, plus I think I left my shin pads in my locker) but I can offer advice on how to minimise injury.

Check your players' stamina levels at half time. If someone has zero stamina, sub them or put them in a relatively inactive position. For example, if Croatia are mainly playing down the right channel, put the player in the left back position.

Sometimes, though, four or five players will be dangerously low in the energy department: in this case, use the sprint button sparingly, be cautious, and pray you don't get cropped. I find that my attackers are injured the most because I play my football mainly in the opposition half. This can often result in me putting defenders/midfielders up front for a spell but it's not always a bad thing - as mentioned before they will have superior stamina levels to opposition defenders and outrun them for fun.

This goes without saying, but if you're winning 4-0 with 30 seconds to go, don't take too many risks. Make some late subs to save injuries caused by tired tackles.

And that's about it.

There's nothing much more to say, it's just a game of football. Win the World League and you will be suitably rewarded with some extra teams with which to play in exhibition modes. These all-star squads are made up of the best players in the game and you will do well to defeat them - playing in the International Cup mode you'll need to beat the formidable (but not unbeatable) World Stars team in order to unlock them all. All I can say is good luck to you, it's a tough task for the best of gamers.

After that, you can take on the scenarios. I'm not going to cover these but I'd say completing them on level 5 is harder than winning the World League with South Korea, and that's saying something. The Holland-England game will have you frustrated for ages so have some aspirin to hand.

Done all that? Well, you could try ISS '98.... or, if you fancy more of a challenge, make a team of players with zero ability points and try to win the League with that! It'd probably take you a few decades, but at least you'd be able to say you did it...

Monday, 13 October 2008

Sultan's Maze [Amstrad CPC, 1984] review

I'm really not sure why it's named the Sultan's Maze when the game takes place at Hampton Court. And I don't recall there ever being a ghost, let alone one with a pixel outline that can literally kill you.

I'm also not sure what it is with Amsoft and maze games. Essentially, this game has a similar plot to Roland on the Ropes; navigate a maze whilst avoiding its guardian(s); collect treasure/gems for as high a score as possible. Once you have completed a maze, you are presented with a new, more challenging one.

This is no platformer though - instead, Amsoft take the ambitious step of rendering the whole maze in 3 dimensions. I say three dimensions, but it's very basic 'pseudo 3d' stuff - hedges are a series of lines and this is what you'll be staring at for most of the maze. However there is a nice castle and tree-lined path that must have taken a while to code which for some reason I quite liked.


Aesthetics aside, it's painfully slow stuff; methinks this could be due to the limitations of the BASIC code; but I don't think even improved loading times could save Sultan's. The killer for me is the fact it seems your character is a weakling and can only carry one or two jewels at a time. As time goes by, your strength reduces and you are able to carry less gems as a consequence.

It may be "3D", but it's pretty inane - add to that a strange key setup and you have a rather naff video game. It's a valiant effort nonetheless, and just about acceptable for 1984. Sure, it's a rip-off and nothing special, more of a showcase of some of the stuff the CPC was capable of but heck! It's better than nothing for a tape you got free with the system. :)

Which way now? To the pub!

Breakdown


Any recommended sequels?: Nope.

Get if: you had this game in the 80s/90s: see if you have a bit more patience than you did back then. Also get if you're an Amstrad collector/junkie.

Avoid if: you want a deeper, more complex game that doesn't eat into your precious pub time.

Game info

Sultan's Maze
[Amstrad CPC, 1984]. Not available for any other console, as far as I know.
Buy this game
  • Rarity rating: [10=extremely rare] 5 - Amsoft game that came packaged with the system. Find a system, you may find a copy.
  • Buy @ eBay - about a quid.
  • As with most Amstrad games, they are pretty difficult to find on the main street. Specialist retro game stores and really big video game outlets with a large retro section are your best bets.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Road Rash [MD] crashes III

As promised, here's the third (second?) installation in the Road Rash crashes series.


Contains footage spliced from the review and a bunch of other stuff I never used.

Enjoy.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Roland on the Ropes [Amstrad CPC, 1984] review

In Spain, this game is known simply as "Fred". What a brilliant title for a game, just "Fred". Roland is somehow less fitting to describe our lead character: I see him as more of a Fred Dibnah type dude.

With a title like that, you might think that Roland is some sort of terrible boxer. He probably is, considering the fact he needs a gun to protect him from the clutches of vampires, mummies, ghosts, rats and dripping green ooze (!) as he explores the tombs of Tootiecarmoon [sic]. Huh, I don't think Frank Bruno would have needed a gun in such a situation, know what I mean, Fred? But, erm... [changes subject quickly] this is essentially a glorified maze game in which you climb ropes and collect treasures on your way out of the tomb.

Something you'll notice quite soon is the fact you have to be at the correct pixel perfect position underneath a rope to climb it and at exactly the right spot on the rope to jump onto a platform from it. That said, the controls seem more responsive than I remember - maybe I just had a really rubbish joystick back then. After some initial frustration you'll get the hang of it pretty quickly but this problematic necessity to be precise will inevitably crop up later as you get backed into a corner and panic. Believe me, you will at some point get trapped with a wall to the left and an advancing ghost to the right. In these cases, it's better to cut your losses and take just one hit and walk through the enemy rather than multiple hits as you struggle to dodge their movements.

Back to that gun. You will find that the enemies you most want to shoot are the ghosts: their paths are incredibly unpredictable and they can even float through walls. But guess what? Your bullets pass right through them, meaning you'll have to use your digital dexterity to avoid them. Not much of a problem, you might say - a lot of games have enemies that cannot be beaten, only dodged. It isn't that easy, however. Those blighters gang up on you, and then you've had it. That said, those enemies that can be shot, such as the mummies, make a resounding and satisfying 'poof', turning to dust when you hit them.

For all its shortcomings, Roland proves to be fun in parts. There is an element of trial and error (never a good thing in a video game) but I found myself wanting to have another go, and another - even though I had been slaughtered by a scorpion for the umpteenth time something told me that next time I might be luckier. But this is precisely were the game falls down: much of the game is down to luck, especially at the beginning. You need a huge amount of patience and collectedness because you will get lost and find yourself at the mercy of fate. Once you die, as Revolver Ocelot would say, there are no continues my friend. You have to make do with starting right at the beginning once more, but at least you get a life bar refill at the end of each level.

Indiana Jones has nothing on Fred? Well, perhaps not.

Breakdown

Recommended sequels: Roland in the Caves [Amstrad CPC].

Get if: you like maze games. It's pretty satisfying when you complete a maze, I will concede.

Avoid if: you have little or no patience - you'll get lost often. Also avoid if you are susceptible to getting blisters on your fingers (for those with a joystick).

Game info

Roland on the Ropes (Fred) [Amstrad CPC, 1984]. Also available for ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64.
Buy this game
  • Rarity rating [10=extremely rare]: 4
  • Buy @ eBay - approx £1
  • It could be pretty tough to track this game down in your local area as from my experience not many places stock old CPC games. If you can find one though, this was a pretty popular Amstrad game so they may well have it. You could have more luck finding a Spectrum or Commodore copy.

Video review
(more info)



Longplay with commentary (more info)

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Road Rash [Mega Drive] crashes compilation parts 1 & 2

This video is actually a compilation of two videos which were uploaded on an alternative YouTube account. Around a year ago I was messing around on Road Rash once again and found myself compelled to make a video or two. In recent times, because YouTube have been updating their coding and stuff, the videos tended to bunch up for some weird reason. So, here is a reupload, in avi format no less, for your enjoyment.

Crashes and Bashes & Thumps and Bumps:


Part 3, containing bonus footage from my video review of RR, is on the way.

Hindleyakking - Legal stuff

Just to cover my back....

I have no connection to any video game company or organisation, I am simply a fan making videos/writing content for other fans.

All in-game footage and screenshots are copyright their respective owners. Content is uploaded on Blogger's/YouTube's US servers and as such falls under the jurisdiction of that country's copyright laws. It is believed that a limited number of web resolution screenshots for identification and critical commentary on the games in question qualifies for fair use, as such display does not significantly impede the right of the copyright holder to sell the copyrighted material, is not being used to generate profit in this context, and presents ideas that cannot be exhibited otherwise.

Thanks to Wikipedia for the fair use wording.


Credits for console icons:

Huge thanks to the following for their excellent images:

Road Rash [Mega Drive] video review


With this video review (my first, no less), I was aiming for a spoof promo-style production. Took me a while to finish, maybe a week of editing.

[ Video transcript: ]

Enter the world of illegal street racing.

Kick the snot out of cops, fellow competitors and everything else that gets in your way. Listen to the grunts of discontent as you execute a perfectly timed kick in the nuts.

Watch in awe as a large estate powers into your newly purchased Kawasaki. Laugh heartily as you smash some guy with a mildly intimidating name over the head. Whimper as you struggle to control the most powerful bike in the game because you decided to enter a cheat code.

Make your fellow miscreants eat dust as you power your way to the California State Championship. $140? Sniff my wad!

So throw away that Need For Speed CD and dig out your Road Rash cartridge for some pure unadulterated thuggery. Say goodbye to Super Hang On, for the next generation of bike racing is here, and with a bit of luck you won't even have to bother about buying a new muffler every five minutes.

Illegal street racing? Erm, no! I was just driving to my mother's house... she's very ill you know.

[ End ]

Road Rash [Mega Drive, 1991] review

Let's face it: deep down we all want to be street thugs. We want to cane people across the skull with large truncheons, perform daredevil leaps over parked cars and generally kick the snot out of authority figures. Well, er, maybe it's just me then, constable? Please don't give me a fine for dropping litter!


Super Hang-On had taken the motorbike-em-up genre to a new level with its innovative "original" mode which saw you competing against rivals across winding cross country roads for cash. Road Rash builds on this idea, throwing in some good old-fashioned thuggery for good measure.

But this is far from Hang-On with knobs on: if it was at all possible, it out-arcades its arcade predecessor. Sure, it seems to plod along at first but once you get to buy the more powerful bikes it really lives up to the sheer speed of Hang-On. There's no slowdown to stop you in your tracks... the stupidly parked vehicles will do that just as well for you.

I shall stop comparing games made five years apart and for different formats, because in my book, Road Rash deserves to be regarded as a stand-alone classic. The difficulty curve is A1. The game sucks you in, and after about an hour you'll start to encounter bigger challenges - cows lying in the road, wandering deer and speeding estates begin to knock you off your bike more frequently, meaning you're going to have to master those brakes.

All the while you're racing along to a quality digitised soundtrack with excellent guitar sampling pretty damn advanced for its time. The game features a number of tunes from esteemed video game composer Rob Hubbard, who also created soundtracks for IK+ [Various] and the critically acclaimed Skate or Die [C64], to which you'll often be tempted to break out the air guitar mid-race. Like a good soundtrack, you'll also find yourself humming the tunes for a long time afterwards.


Your fellow competitors goad you before each race, making you want to get out on the track and pulp them into submission, both literally and metaphorically by sending them flying across the gravel and taking the first place berth to rub it in their faces. Each has a (mildly intimidating) name to add to the (non?) realism; Biff, Helldog, Viper, Broomhelga and er, Angel - they're all out to put your jaw out of joint.

It's highly violent stuff: high speed crashes, kicking people in the nuts, attacking police officers... and not a parental warning or BBFC rating in sight. Oh yes. See, in the 'old days', you could do that and get away with it. There are no 15-ratings here kids, so forget Need For Speed and get Road Rash instead.

Game breakdown


Recommended sequels
:

Road Rash II
[MD]: adds a few functions such as beating up cops, new tunes and more spectacular crashes.

Road Rash III
[MD]: a graphical update and new weapons and courses but essentially the same formula and engine as 1 +2.

Don't bother with Road Rash 3D [PSX]. Just don't, or I'll send some of my yak mates round to sort you out. Er, that wasn't a threat...

Get if: you like racing/sports games, bikes or are the casual gamer looking for some competitive action.

Avoid if: you prefer a more 'honest' type of bike racing game: go for Hang-On instead. Also avoid if you hate racing games or bikes in general - you may find yourself falling off a lot. Pays your money, takes your choice.

Game info

Road Rash [Mega Drive] - also available for Amiga, Atari ST, Game Boy, Game Gear, Sega Master System
Buy this game
  • Rarity Rating [10=Extremely rare]: 3
  • Buy @ eBay - a couple of pounds usually, might cost a bit more for sequels, especially RRIII which is a bit rarer.
  • Your local retro games store may have a copy but they might want about a fiver. You know what those shops are like, they price the games according to quality, usually.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

NBA Jam [Mega Drive, 1994] review

Strangely, despite growing up in the United Kingdom, where football is king, and miles away from the nearest basketball court, I was something of a basketball fan.

Not that I ever went to watch any games; my closest local team, the Manchester Giants, played 25 miles away and I much preferred a day at the football. But, I did class myself as something of a follower of the sport, mostly because of NBA Jam.



I must have first heard about the game on Head to Head, a British video game show on now defunct Sky channel The Children's Channel (video above) and subsequently rented the game from my local newsagent. Let me just say that I actually finished up renting it enough times to cover the cost of actually purchasing the game.

What is presented here is a caricature of basketball: cartoony big headed players performing unimaginably huge dunks and length-of-the-court three pointers, with the standard five-a-side format overlooked in favour of a two-on-two jamfest.

But what Jam lacks in realism it more than makes up for in arcade brilliance. I never played the original - I read that the console versions are decent ports, but unfortunately I don't think I would have been able to persuade one of the arcades at Blackpool to buy the game in, seeing as I was about nine at the time.

This bending of the boundaries allows for such concepts as the hot streak. If a single player scores three baskets in a row, he is 'on fire'. Until someone else scores, the player is granted unlimited sprint, increased accuracy and a range of 'superdunks', the ball glowing bright orange all the time the player is in possession of it. This, along with sinking an at-the-buzzer downtown Hail Mary to scrape a contest, must rank as one of the most fun parts of the game.


Or maybe not, for multiple player games bring two, three and four times the fun respectively. There's nothing better than taking the mick out of your opponent by passing to your partner whilst twenty feet in the air midway through an ultra dunk and seeing him shoot a flawless uncontested three-pointer. This, you can guarantee, will lead to much verbal taunting, high-fives and the other team sulking into their Reeboks.

And then there's the sonics. There is no option to turn them off, but I doubt you'd want to; superb digital sampling provides the commentary which can, at times, be impressively fluent. Slightly clearer on the SNES, no doubt, but still mightily good and a decent range of catchphrases for a game released in 1994. You'll find yourself repeating "grabs the rebound!" and "is it the shoes?" as you shoot some hoops down at the local recreation ground.

It was only years later that I actually bought the game for the Mega Drive and fully realised what fun it was: having played other similar games such as Barkley's Shut Up and Jam [MD] and such five a side conversions of the sport as NBA Live '98 [PS], none could live up to the frantic dunk-a-minute orgies of Jam (though I have to admit Live 98 was fun).

Breakdown-town


Recommended sequels: NBA Jam T.E. [SNES, MD]

Get if: You're a fan of arcade style sports games. If you like basketball, you most likely have it already ;) It's very easy to while away whole afternoons attempting to beat all the NBA teams, and when you've done that you can do it all again in the uber-hectic 'juice mode'.

Avoid if: You prefer realism in your sports games, if you detest basketball, or if a wide variety of tunes is a top factor in your ideal game.

Game info

NBA Jam [Mega Drive] - also available for Arcade, Super NES, Game Gear, Sega CD, Game Boy
Buy this game
  • Rarity rating [10=extremely rare]: 2
  • Buy @ Ebay - costs approximately £2-3
  • This was a very popular game, check your local Cash Converters or retro video games store. You could also get it cheaper from a boot sale, perhaps haggling as low as 50p if the seller knows nothing of video games :)

Dunks video:
(more info)