Commodore User1st December 1987
Published in Commodore User #52
Street Sports Basketball
Street Sports Basketball is the second in Epyx's Street Sports series, the first being a playable, street-wise interpretation of America's most popular spectator sport, baseball. Basketball is in a similar vein, with certain rules being discarded in favour of making this more of a simulation of how the sport is played by American kids on the street.
The inlay credits the original program and design to Andrew Spencer, which explains why Street Sports Basketball plays so similarly to International Basketball. Epyx have basically tweaked the original and improved the graphics.
You can play against either a human or computer controlled opponent. The computer's team plays at one of three difficulty levels, although only the most difficult proves any challenge, so think again unless you have a friend to hand.
The match takes place at one of your different 'venues': a school playground, a back alley, a street in the suburbs, or a parking lot. Each court contains its own advantages and disadvantages - for example, patches of oil and high kerbs are obstacles best avoided. The backdrops are colourful and detailed, but disappointing. Given that Street Sports Basketball is multi-load and that Epyx are renowned for including cute touches, it's a shame there are none - not even the slightest twitch from any of the backdrops.
Contrary to tradition there are only three players to a team, selected from a choice of ten, before play begins. As with International Basketball, the player under your control is highlighted by a lighter coloured jersey. Passes and shots are easily made by pointing the ball in the right direction, and pressing the fire button, with control being transferred to other players on your team by holding down the fire button.
The ball is stolen from opposing players by simply pushing against them and pressing fire. However, by taking such a casual approach to a sports simulation, Epyx have made compromises which are marginally detrimental. For example, while the basic gameplay adheres closely to the real thing, you are never penalised for fouling, so you can send the opposition sprawling to the floor time and time again.
The players supposedly have their own characteristics, but this hardly becomes apparent during play - the only real differences between players seems to be visual, and this isn't overly obvious. Still, Street Sports Basketball plays well enough - although it's not quite as playable as Andrew Spencer's original incarnation. International Basketball has nine skill levels and more realistic gameplay - and when it was released nearly three years ago, it cost £5.99. Mind you, it's well nigh impossible to get hold of a copy now, so if you want a decent basketball game you'll have to settle for second best at a higher price.