Sunday, 9 November 2014

Basketball Nightmare (Master System)

The night before the big game, the captain of a high school basketball team has a nightmare, where he has to play against teams of monsters. And though he's probably American, and the game was made for western audiences (the only ones still buying Master System games in 1989), a lot of the monsters are very Japanese: buddhist cyclopses, kappas, undead Japanese grandmothers, and so on. The enemy teams, being monsters, play on spooky courts, too, which happen to look pretty cool, with baskets made of bones and rocks and such.

Despite the unusual theme of Basketball Nightmare, it doesn't add any kind of fantastic elements to the way the game plays: no power-ups or special moves or anything of the sort. It's just a regular basketball game in which the AI teams all happen to be monsters. So normal is the manner in which the game plays, that in 2-player mode, and the pointless CPU vs CPU mode, the teams are all human. There's also talk online of a secret single player mode played against international human teams, though I haven't found any instructions on how to access this mode.

The game plays better than you'd expect from an 8-bit team sports game, and it's presented excellently: attempted slam dunks are shown via impressive full screen cutaway animations and the regular sprites are all cute and appealing. It does fall apart, however, when you discover the secret to winning every match: get the ball, run to the bottom right corner of the court and shoot. More often then not, you'll score a three pointer. Do this a few times, and your opponents will have no chance of catching up before the time runs out.

Basketball Nightmare is worth a look for the cute graphics, and some fun might be had from the 2-player mode (though I guess either both players or neither players would have to know about the secret for it to be at all competitive), but it's definitely not an essential game that needs to be sought out.

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