He’s on fire….again!
John Tesh – the one time host of Entertainment Tonight and the source of endless
material for comedians everywhere. Did you know he wrote the NBA basketball
theme for NBC? Seriously! Now every time you hear that tune, you’ll shudder
with fear. But that shouldn’t stop you from getting into some digital two on
two, should it?
Two on two basketball,
no goal tending, five fouls and the opponents get a free throw. So states the
rules of NBA Showtime. If you’ve ever played NBA Jam, then you
already know the basics – the familiar cheap computer opponents, the lackluster
single player mode, and the endless back and forth gameplay. Nonetheless, the
Dreamcast version manages to capture the arcade fun, despite some noticeable
Indeed, single player will get boring. It’s fun for a quick full 4-quarter
game, but I’ve never thought of NBA Jam/Showtime as a game to play for
hours on end by yourself. While you can save your game records under a name
and pin I.D., there is no season mode.
When you shoot for the hoop, oddly enough, your computer-controlled teammate
will jump as well; after you drain the three-pointer, that same teammate might
grab the rim from his airborne descent. Maybe he was waiting for the alley-oop,
but it’s as if there’s something not quite right with the drone member of your
team. The same problem has shown up in the arcade version, but other than the
complete weirdness of it, it doesn’t deter the gameplay.
New to the Midway b-ball series is a Create-a-Player option. As incentive
to keep playing, you can build up a player’s statistics. The more you win, the
better the player you can create. Unfortunately, you’re limited to the set faces
and mascot heads you’re given. There’s no way to put a reasonable facsimile
of yourself among the ballers of the NBA. And mascots can only wear their original
At the end of every
quarter, the camera arcs around the stop-motioned players in a pseudo bullet-time
effect. The freeze frame shows one of the graphical problems of the game’s engine
– collision detection. I’ve seen a goal tending call when the player jumped from
behind the backboard to put an arm straight through a basketball. One time, the
camera froze on Chris Webber riding Kobe Bryant piggyback. Now that’s something
you’ll never see in a real game…well, maybe with Dennis Rodman…ahem… The
point is, the effect could have been altered so as not to blatantly show these
On the Dreamcast, the graphics really shine. This looks like it came straight
off the arcades. From the outrageous jams to the flash bulbs going off around
the stadium, the port is done well. The overblown characters fit well with the
less than serious nature of the game. The animation isn’t nearly as good as NBA2K,
but it isn’t expected to be. This is simply the prettiest version of NBA Jam
on a console yet.
As in previous games, there’s a wide range of witty remarks, including a few insults and color commentary. And yes, even John Tesh’s signature tune is in here. Bet you’ll wanna go out and buy all of his new age classical CDs now. The other music in the game is mostly background filler – trying for a hip-hop style beat to complement the action.
The additions of free-throws keep the game from becoming a shoving match,
adding some balance to the multi-player. Add in the updated rosters and familiarity
of the classic Jam mechanics, and you’ll find the Dreamcast edition a
worthy title. Despite the stop-motion glitches and the erratic drones, playing
with a gang of pals is fun. While I can’t quite say the same for the other versions
of the game, if you’re starting to get somewhat Blitzed
out and are looking for a change of sport, then it’s Showtime, baby.