An integral part of Dime’s literary footprint is basketball-related video game news. This has become doubly important in the wake of the ongoing lockout, where getting one’s hoops fix sometimes leads to the digital world. With this in mind, Konami is prepared to launch a basketball game that will change everything. The Dime editorial staff has been provided with an advance copy, and I am privileged to give you a sneak peek. Plug in your controllers, blow on your cartridge, turn the television to Channel 3 and come with me.
The first thing you notice about Double Dribble is that the game talks. Yes, you read that correctly. I don’t know how they did it, but the developers managed to get actual words to come out of the speakers. When the game turns on, you hear “Double Dribble!” in a squeaky robot-man voice. When a player is fouled, the invisible referee screams “Fyoo Tho!” to signal the upcoming free throws.
I decided to take the 1P mode for a spin. On the options menu you are given not one, but four teams to select from: Boston, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. For some reason you are only allowed to play against Boston on 1P mode, but I am sure that is just a bug that will be worked out by the time the game hits the market.
I select Chicago and take the court with Derrick Rose and the Bulls. The gameplay is stunning: The Celtics whip the ball to each other at lightning speed. What teamwork! Kevin Garnett gets the ball in the low block, goes up to shoot, and…
ARE YOU KIDDING ME? IS THAT ACTUAL GAME FILM!?
Don’t get too cocky, though. If you don’t time your dunk just right, the ball will come clanging off the rim. And trust me – you don’t want to be that guy.
On difficulty level 1, the computer almost never misses a shot. On level 3 the computer misses frequently. The downside to level 3 is that the computer will literally steal the ball from you every time you dribble within two feet of an opponent. It is not uncommon to fall into “steal contests” with the computer wherein you keep intercepting each others’ passes and swiping each others’ dribbles in rapid succession. These frantic defensive exhibitions can go on and on, with neither team ever advancing far enough to attempt a shot. Jeff Van Gundy must have been a creative consultant.
In my test game, the Celtics built up an early lead thanks to a couple of steals and fast breaks by Rajon Rondo. I decided to put the ball in the hands of Rose. At least I think it’s Rose. It might be Kyle Korver. One of Double Dribble‘s innovative features is Anti-Racism Pigmentation Technology. Every time a player receives the ball he immediately begins to flash like a strobe light between white and black skin tones. This was done to prevent racists from only playing with a certain color player. I think. Anyway, I take Rose-Korver to the corner and launch a wild, going-out-of-bounds three that promptly banks off the glass and swishes through. I’m not sure that bank shot was geometrically possible, but whatevs, haters, that’s how I roll on the 8 bit.
As with any game, there are shortcomings. Double Dribble is by no means a perfect play. My chief complaint is with the representation of the cheerleaders, all of whom have only one, um, boob. Another point of contention, one that the basketball purists will surely nitpick about, is the small matter of why two players from each team refuse to cross half court for any reason. Perhaps this is a new rule to be found in the upcoming collective bargaining agreement between the NBA and the players. Stupid lockout.
Double Dribble, for play on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Coming soon. My sources tell me it will retail for $39.99 at Toys”R”Us.
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