Friday, March 10, 2017

Tecmo Super NBA Basketball (Sega Genesis)

The NBA season is dwindling down with less than 20 games to go for just about every team. Let's take a look at Tecmo Super NBA Basketball. Originally, it was released for the NES in the fall of 1992. During 1993, 16-bit versions with Super added in it were brought in. For the SNES, it was early in the year while the Sega Genesis received their version in the fall. It stands out among a line up of basketball titles and has a smoother and fun playability compared to the early EA Sports efforts. It's not going to replace NBA Live, but it holds its own.

All three versions were not made in house by Tecmo. Instead, it went to Sculptured Software, who had a hand with other licensed games such as Tecmo Bowl on Game Boy, The Simpsons, and Super Star Wars. What is given is a lower difficulty compared to Super Bowl, but retains a lot of the things that made the NFL offering have a lot of depth. Three modes of play are given to the player. Rumble with a pre-season match-up against any team you want. Second is the season mode, where you have the choice to do anything, which will be explained very soon. Last is the All-Star mode, which features the best of both conferences.

In Tecmo Super Bowl, one could play in many ways. Super NBA retained that idea. If you wanted to coach in any mode, you could. Watching a game was something to do, especially when it was on the NES back then as well. Or you can play a four quarter game. In the season, you can play as multiple teams and you can affect the outcome of a season. It is based on the 1993-94 season rather than 92-93 or the Nintendo versions of 91-92. You want someone to lose, you can pick that team and make sure they don't smell playoffs. Overall they played to the strengths of previous Tecmo sports games.

Heading onto a new territory of 16-bit, the graphics are good. The models of the players are fair, but provide a bit smoother animation compared to early Genesis sports games. Cut scenes and crowds are of the typical Tecmo flair. Still images of players are a nice bonus and the court is passable. With the audio, it's music is not something I'd associate with basketball, but the vibe makes it feel like you should put in the extra effort to beat other teams.  There isn't too many sound effects and the crowd is a step up from other sports offerings. Voicing is a bit clearer as you can hear the pronunciations considering the Genesis sound chips.

At it's disposal, there are 27 teams to choose from and both All-Star teams. You get 12 players per team, and the rosters reflect who was around for the 1992-93 season. In the 90s, deadlines were strict on cartridge systems, so a few players have been changed to position and team such as the late Reggie Lewis. It will be obvious that it doesn't have very player on it as they did not put in rookies from for the 1993-94 season. Like Super Bowl, they all have varying features that they either excel at or struggle badly in.

Controlling players on the Genesis is simple. With the ball, you can shoot with the B button and pass with A. You can call plays with C and the directional pad. Passing is giving the ball to a player that has an arrow indicator above him. Without the ball, A is like passing, but with switching players. Jumping is used with B, and C attempts to steal the ball from the opponents. There is a feature by using B and C to intentionally foul a player.

The tip-off is very hard, but the match-ups play mostly like an actual NBA game. Rules are relegated to clock violations and whether the ball goes out of bounds. Fouls are given for things like charging or shoving one to the ground. Six fouls on one guy and he is done. Foul in the act of shooting and free throws are given. Goal tending can also occur, though that is pretty rare. Fatigue is a given. You will be constantly putting in fresher players off the bench, so picking the best strategy of players may be vital against some of those tougher teams like the Chicago Bulls.

Getting deeper into the season mode, you can play a full 82 game season that is directly based on the 1993-94 season as mentioned earlier. There are two other schedules that shortened to either 41 or 26 games. Similar to Super Bowl, you can skip the season and head directly into the playoffs. However, not everything is fine and dandy. Injuries can happen to anybody at any time. On the bright side, it does play to the idea that they will be healthy in short time.

Options are a little slim, but there is enough. On the court, you can pause to call time outs, substitute players and watch a small replay of the game in action. In the menus, you can pick a speed selection to move very fast or slow. Pre-season mode allows a difficulty mode. Season mode doesn't have that, but it seems to be on the hardest. To be fair it depends on the team you play during the season. Also included are turning music on and off and picking minutes per quarter. The team data allows one to pick their starters, check out their stats, and look at the playbook. Each team is offered a variety of plays and you have to choose a select few before playing a game.

I would say there's only a few flaws with Super NBA Basketball. The animations are nice, but it is difficult to notice whether you still have the ball and get stolen and vice versa. There is barely any time to react, especially if you wind up going out of bounds or have a backcourt violation. At times, there is slowdown, but it doesn't ruin the game. It is noticeable, though. Typically, it comes when all the players get up close together.

Would I recommend this game? Yes. It is uncommon, but shouldn't set you back much. Tecmo Super NBA Basketball gives you that playability that wasn't seen until NBA Live and moves at a good place. Check it out. You're not going to be sorely disappointed.

Final Score: 7 out of 10

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