reviews\ May 5, 2002 at 8:00 pm

NBA Street - GC - Review

A long time ago, on a basketball court far, far away, a war began among the local superstars.  Princess Playa was in turmoil, so Dunk Skywalker and Obi-Ball Kenobi came to her rescue.  However, they were unable to stop the Street Lords from completing their battle station, called the Death Court.  Now it would only be a matter of time before Darth Baller and his army of Clonehoopers struck again...

And so, NBA Street was born.  (Note: Star Wars does not really have anything to do with NBA Street.  But that sure would make a cool b-ball game, don't you think?)  NBA Street is the opposite of every simulation basketball game.  There are only three players on each team; it's possible to slam dunk a ball after catching it while flying 20 feet in the air; there are two meters at the top of the screen that unrealistically enhance your player's abilities (more on that later); blocking is not only legal, but encouraged; and the game automatically ends when a team scores 21 points (except in the case of a tie).  All of those things may sound crazy to the average b-ball fan, but to a gamer, it's the flavor of the week.

A point that I always try to stress in reviews is that the fun should always come first, then realism.  Electronic Arts has mastered both, and the unique thing about NBA Street is that its unrealistic gameplay is done in a way that's believable.  I can picture street ballers playing in my head, and my vision closely resembles this game.  The players' nonchalant attitude never changes.  They pass the ball and do amazing slam-dunks as naturally as they would sit at a computer and type.  Their half-cocky, half-laid-back style is exactly what you'd expect from a master street-baller who is playing just for the sake of playing -- and bragging rights -- as opposed to a five million dollar salary.

Each of the game's 13 locations were modeled after or inspired by real street courts.  I'm not overly familiar with the real locales, but I know of Rucker Park.  Based on the pictures I've seen of the real Rucker Park, I'd say EA did a good job.  Rucker Park looks like Rucker Park.  The only thing missing are the hundreds of fans screaming in the background.  We probably won't see visual effects like that until the PlayStation 3 or 4 is released...

No EA Sports BIG game would be complete without a "big" list of tricks to perform.  NBA Street does not have as many tricks as SSX Tricky, but the ones it has are great so I don't care.  You will perform each of them at least a dozen times per game, if not a hundred times!  It never gets repetitive though.  That's because the tricks are (1) really cool, (2) fun to perform, (3) they can be used as an attack move to knock down your opponents, (4) they award you lots of points and (5) they raise your boost meter.  When the boost meter is full, two turbo buttons can be held while shooting or dunking to perform a Gamebreaker.

Gamebreakers are special performance shots that give you more points than any other trick in the game (trick points, that is, not goals!).  During a Gamebreaker, the screen lightens a little as if something magical is about to happen.  To enhance the shot even more, your shot/dunk is shown from three different angles.

Gamebreaker shots give you 25,000 points, while Gamebreaker dunks give you 50,000 points!  75,000 points are awarded to you for dunking the final goal of the game.  Points are then used to create your very own NBA Street player.  You won't be able to use any of the points earned from the games, but the amount of points you receive is dependant upon your final score.  So do your best to out-trick the rest, and before you know it, you'll be playing with a 7-foot woman named Queen B.

EA is definitely the leader in simulation sports games, and now that they've gone "extreme," they've proven that there is no sports genre that they can't tackle.  NBA Jam rocked the house ten years ago (it may not have been that long ago, but it sure feels like it), but for now, NBA Street is the only street baller I need.  I wish this had been a full-fledged sequel though, or even a half-sequel.  NBA Street is a great game, but I beat early last year on the PlayStation 2.  Now I'm beating it again on the GameCube, and aside from the NBA players, little has changed.  Love NBA Street and would highly recommend it to anyone who has never played it [to death] before.  If you have a PlayStation 2, get that version instead.  It plays slightly better and currently sells for less than the newly released GameCube version.

Reviewer's Scoring Details

Gameplay: 8.5
NBA Street plays nearly identical to the PlayStation 2 version.  For the most part, this is the most perfect basketball game ever made.  It is a port...but I love it just the same.  Hopefully this port will open up NBA Street to a whole new audience.

Graphics: 7 
NBA Street hasn't changed much since its release on the PS2 last year.  None of the players look like their real-life counterparts, but the street ballers look great.  The backgrounds are pleasing to the eye as well.  However, all of this has been seen a million times before.

Sound: 4
NBA Street's phat beats are rather flat.  Last year they were an average annoyance.  This year, they're pure torture.  I think that one of the songs is new, and that just happens to be the worst one in the game!  The bad sound doesn't stop with the music though -- the commentary is horrendous.

Difficulty: Easy
I only lost one game when I beat NBA Street last year.  I didn’t lose at all this time around.

Concept: 6.5 
As an original game, NBA Street deserves a 9.  As a port, it deserves a 5.  But since the rosters were updated and the gameplay is still great, it deserves a 6.5.

Multiplayer: 7
At the heart of every sports game is its multiplayer mode.  As of late, most of them have included a four-player mode.  Unfortunately, developers are still releasing sports games that only allow two people to play simultaneously.  To all of the developers out there who are planning to release another two-player game this year, please don't!  Add a good four-player mode and THEN release the game.  Or better yet, an online multiplayer mode.  Aside from fighting games, two-players just aren't enough anymore.

Overall: 8
Attention all wannabe street-ballers out there: NBA Street is the game for you!  That is, assuming you haven't played it before.  NBA Street's greatest flaw is the fact that it is a port.  It seems as if every great third-party GameCube game was released on the PSone or PS2 first.  NBC airs commercials that say, "If you haven't seen it, it's new to you!" to promote re-runs of their hit shows in the summer.  It's best to apply that logic here.


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