Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
£24.99; 2 players
Coach! I can't keep playing, I've got this big white arrow in my head!
Dubba dubba dubba dubba dubba dubba dubba...
Anyone who's wanted to join the Harlem Globetrotters but is only four feet tall should welcome this chance to dribble in public. Great Basketball is the Great series' contribution to the art of a bunch of very tall men running round in shorts putting a big orange ball into nets. It's netball for real men, essentially.
If you've never even heard of the game, all you have to do is get your ball into the basket guarded by the opposition. The ball is moved around by continually bouncing it, although you can also pass to other members of your team. Simple.
Before beginning, you have the option of having a straightforward one-on-one game between you and a chum, or entering the World Championship against seven other computer teams.To win you have to beat all the opposition; lose two games and you're out. Pick your preferred nationality, and it's straight to the game. First you go into the face-off, where two team members face each other in the centre of the court as the ref throws the ball into the air. Both players have to jump and try and tip the ball to one of their own team. The player who gets the ball immediately comes under your control and can be guided around the court. If you go for a pass, the ball is automatically thrown to the player with a white arrow floating above his head.
If the opposition are on the offensive, you can try a tackle by running up to the player with the ball, stealing it, then running away again. if you get the timing right, you should come away with the ball.
Each match is split, just like the real thing, into two three-minute halves, (er, or is that three two minute halves..? No, don't be silly, how you have three halves?!?) with a performance by the cheerleaders at half time!
Great Basketball is really a simplified version of Basketball Nightmare. This isn't really an enormous drawback, since it keeps things nice and simple and you get a much faster game. Where the Nightmare game suffered from trying to be too clever, GB is really very nice and easy to play, and has a very high 'sit down and do it right now' factor.
Your team mates are a bunch of dimwits, because they don't ever tackle the opposition - you always have to do that yourself - and they very rarely get possession of a free ball.
Graphically, Great Basketball is still in the stone age, with titchy sprites, poor animation, plain backgrounds (there's no excuse for this) and no real frills.
Play gets very confusing with all the little players start milling around together, you can't tell where you are. The tackle is also annoyingly tricky: you can only attempt a clean tackle when you're directly facing the opposition, and it's very difficult not to keep fouling them.
Despite all these little niggles, GB offers a keen game of basketball - especially against a chum - and is more than adequate for a quick and easy game! Obviously you get a much better game in two player mode, but the Sega doesn't cheat too much so you still get a good game even if your buddies are all out doing something more interesting, (sob!)
Tackling is too difficult, although passing and shooting are a doddle
A dead audience, mutant cheerleaders, stiff player animation and a wild perspective on the court!
Average sampled speech, but a frenetic soundtrack add to the swiftly-paced action
It's a fast non-stop game, so you gotta be quick to stay on top!
Run around, pass and shoot - not much to it, really...
Challenge a mate, or play the Sega - it’s pretty good fun either way!
Basketball - but that’s all. One bell, half a whistle and nothing else. Neatly done and fun to play.
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