If I told you
that you should be excited about a port of a 9-month old PS2 game,
and one that features minimal enhancements at that, would you
believe me? This is one case where a virtually direct port of a PS2
title should give GameCube owners something to cheer about, as NBA
Street arrives as one of the best games yet to hit the system.
gameplay is sort of a mix between typical NBA games and NBA Jam…only
set in the outdoors. NBA Street is basically the SSX: Tricky
of the basketball world, featuring 3-on-3 competition between
players from all 29 teams and a fantastic point system based on how
well the game is played. It’s NBA Jam in that players can pull off
exaggerated dunks, shots, blocks, etc., but it’s also pure street
ball in that each game is played to 21 points. Behind the arc shots
are worth two points, with everything inside being worth one. And of
course, the winning team must win by at least two points.
Of course, in
street ball it’s all about looking good out there, and NBA
Street emphasizes that with an awesome trick system. By
combining different actions with use of the three turbo buttons (L,
R, and Z), players can pull of dribbling tricks, different types of
dunks, etc…each rewarding the player with different amounts of
points. Playing good old fashion D will also yield some points, but
the meat of the point system is found in pulling off incredible
offensive combos. Pulling off a simple block by itself will reward
the player with a mere 750 points, but combo-ing that with an outlet
pass an around-the-world dunk will result in thousands of points.
So why are
points important? Simple…collect enough points, and you’ll go
into Gamebreaker mode. This is basically NBA Street’s version of
being "on fire", although it only lasts one shot here.
Gamebreaker shots can literally make or break the game, as each one
successfully made results in an equal number of points being added
and subtracted from each team. So if you’re down by six and hit a
three-pointer (which is worth 2 points in street ball) while in
Gamebreaker mode, you’ll gain two points while the other team
loses two points. Thus you’re only now down by two, and back in
the game. Unless the opposing team blocks a Gamebreaker shot, it
will always fall. Gamebreakers are hard to come by, thus encouraging
the game to juke, jive, and look as good on the court as possible
while at the same time playing enough fundamental ball to not fall
hopelessly behind. Concentrate only on building up trick points and
you’ll get mowed down by the opposing team, but find a good
balance and a Gamebreaker will serve to put the game away rather
than keep you in it. It’s this mix of over the top elements and
good old fashion basketball that make NBA Street an awesome
gameplay mode is City Circuit, in which you’ll take your team
across America (from East to West) playing different NBA teams on
their own home turf. This mode is basically set up like a ladder in
most fighting games, with each region’s teams being played at the
same time. The player can choose which team they want to play first,
but they have to play and beat them all in one region before moving
on to the next. After beating each NBA team, the player will get to
choose one player from that team to add to their own, or take
development points (for the Create Player mode) instead. In
addition, in each region there’ll be a local legend that’ll
challenge the player after beating all the NBA teams in that region.
For example, the first local legend is Biggs, a British brute with
maxed-out power skills. Once the player beat Biggs’ team, he’ll
be added to the team. Other modes include Hold the Court, Street
School, and Create Player. Hold the Court is where one or two
players try to set the winning streak for each court in the game.
Doing well in this mode can unlock special items not unlockable in
the City Circuit mode. Street School is where Joe "The
Show" (the announcer) teaches you the basics of the game, and
finally Create Player is the now standard create player mode found
in every sports game.
Really, the only
thing disappointing about the gameplay is what was left out. The
lack of a four-player mode in this kind of game is inexcusable,
especially since the GameCube has four controller ports built right
into the machine. It would’ve also been nice to see some kind of
additional gameplay modes and/or features, other than updated
rosters, a new court, and a few other minor things. If this is
essentially the same as the PS2 game, then why’d it take so long
haven’t been enhanced much over the PS2 version, as a lot of the
texture work in particular looks subpar when compared to other
GameCube titles. Court backgrounds are at times blurry and pixelated,
and player models have a lower-poly look to them GameCube-only
owners won’t be used to. On the other hand, the animation work and
player texturing done on the PS2 remains intact, as the player
models are silky smooth and always look great performing any move.
Each court is highly detailed, right down to debris blowing across
the court and dust kicking up under the players’ feet.
Additionally, there is a good usage of special effects to highlight
outstanding dunks and moves. While it’s obvious that not a lot of
graphic enhancements were made, everything here still looks good
enough that it doesn’t offend the eye.
The sound is
also another high point, with a superb soundtrack and quality voice
acting. The soundtrack is made up of a bunch of generic (no big name
stars) urban beats, and yet amazingly they all sound really great.
The voice acting is good too, with spectators on the sidelines
uttering a bunch of phrases in reaction to what’s happening on the
court. Players will talk to even talk to each other, with some
actual player voices (most noticeably MJ) used in the game. The
announcer (a guy with a bullhorn) can be annoying at times (the word
"playa" is included in virtually everything he says), but
most of the time his comments are both hilarious and timely. In
particular, hearing phrases like the announcer telling you to up the
difficulty level after whipping up on your opponent or "I told
you, you need more turbo!" makes for a humorous experience.
- NBA Jam
for this generation, with an awesome trick system to complement
some outstanding arcade 3-on-3 b-ball action.
soundtrack is awesome, and the voice acting is excellent and
perfectly fits the surroundings.
- A ton of
different players, courts, etc. to unlock.
- The local
legends are creative, and really put the player’s skills to
stereotypical in both characterization and locations, although
it’s obviously intentional.
- Graphics are
subpar for a GameCube game, but it still looks good.
nothing new added to the port.
is exactly the type of port the GameCube needs to see more of. It’s
fast, it’s fun, and it fills a small but important sub-genre with
style. Perhaps more importantly it’s slanted towards an older
audience than games like Luigi’s
Mansion. While I'm disappointed that it’s virtually a
direct port of a nine month old PS2 game, it still comes highly