basketball-video-games-1990

Basketball Video Games 1990 – 90s Video Games, Episode 8

Basketball Video Games 1990

Basketball video games of 1990 – In this post I take a closer look at the basketball games released in 1990. Some of them are better, some of them are bad, enjoy!

Games: Arch Rivals (NES), Magic Johnson Fast Break (NES), Ultimate Basketball (NES), Takin It to the Hoop (Turbografx-16), Pat Riley Basketball (Genesis), Basketbrawl (Atari 7800), Punk Shot (Arcade), Harlem Globetrotters (DOS), TV Sports Basketball (Amiga).

Release date: 1990

Platforms: Nintendo NES, Turbografx-16, DOS, Amiga, Arcade

Arch Rivals (NES)

You compete in a two-on-two basketball game with a twist: there are no fouls. That means, players on both sides can really go at each other – punching, shoving or doing whatever it takes to win the game. Sounds interesting? It really was on the arcades! However, this NES port for me is nothing like the original. Best part about the game was it’s hilarious graphics but graphics of this port are nothing special (even for the time). The game gets repetitive and boring pretty quickly. There isn’t many moves and those few moves are hard to pull off. Offensively you can only pass and shoot, defensively you can hit, push and jump. Screen moves awkardly and uncomfortably and it makes really difficult to hit your opponents. 

Magic Johnson's Fast Break (NES)

basketball-video-games-1990-fast-break

Once again you compete in a two-on-two basketball game. This time no hitting or pushing, just regular basketball. Graphics are nothing special but they are not the worst either. I like how Magic Johnson cheers you when you hit the basket. In overall, there isn’t much to do in this game – so it gets repetitive even faster than Arch Rivals. You can shoot and pass, defensively you can switch players and jump. However, what I like about this game is the overall gameplay – screen moves smoother, players are more responsive. That means it is much easier to find your opponents and defend. The game is very easy – you can pick harder difficulty and but it doesn’t get much harder. It’s easy to like the game but the fun doesn’t last long.

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Ultimate Basketball (NES)

This time, a regular 5-on-5 basketball game. It reminds a bit Double Dribble – only it’s not even nearly as good. I mean, the game isn’t great but it’s not as bad as they say. First of all, graphics are impressive – dunk animations, shot animations, in game animations, colors and sprites. It looks much better than Arch Rivals or Magic Johnson and the soundtrack rocks. Also, in this game you can choose your team (from non-existing teams), and decide the period length. Problems start with the gameplay. There are some great ideas – possibility to block the shot during the animation is awesome. However, passing is problematic – it is too easy to pass the ball directly to opponent for an easy layup. Also, too many passes end up out-of-bounds. It’s nearly impossible to hit a 3-pointer. So better go for a dunk!

Takin' It to the Hoop (Turbografx-16)

A 5-on-5 basketball game, very similar to Ultimate Basketball – only it’s much better. Graphics are better (16-bit obviously) but the game also plays much smoother! You can choose your team, substitute players, block shots in the middle of dunk animations. Passing also works much better compared to Ultimate Basketball and it’s much easier to steal the ball. And the best part, you can easily hit 3-pointers. This game is like Ultimate Basketball 2.0 – everything looks better and runs smoother. I don’t like the it’s “cartoonish” graphic style, however.

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Pat Riley Basketball (Sega Genesis)

Is another 5-on-5 basketball game, that is similar to Ultimate Basketball and Takin’ It to the Hoop – only it’s even better. This graphics are better and not so childish, game runs smoothly and is enjoyable, for a very short period of time (gets repetitive). It’s the first basketball game on Genesis and like the other games back in a day – didn’t have NBA license. So all the teams and players are fictional. Features awesome dunk animations, 3-point shot animations and more – however, all the black players look the same, all the white players look the same.

More Basketball Video Games of 1990

Basketbrawl (Atari 7800)

Time for 2-on-2 street basketball game with no fouls, this time on the Atari 7800. Suprisingly the game itselt doesn’t look bad at all – colors are nice and graphics are sharp. Different arenas (rooftop, junkyard) and awesome characters spice things up a bit. Gameplay is smooth, players are responsive and it’s fun to play. Problems start with audio – like you can expect, it’s Atari 7800. The audio quality is horrible! But if you turn the volume down, completely – They game is actually pretty good! You can pick up things (lightning) from the ground to speed up. Unfortunately there are no dunks in the game, but those punks have other tricks!

Nintendo NES Mini

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Punk Shot (Arcade)

basketball-video-games-1990-punk-shot

Another 2-on-2 street basketball game with no fouls, this time on the Arcades. It is pretty safe to say – this is the best basketball game of 1990. It has amazing graphics, sound effects and the game play is just so much fun! First of all, you can hit and kick your opponents or toss them on the ground. There are in-game dunk animations that look very cool. You have three different play fields: Downtown, The Park and the Harbour – all having different obstacles for the players. There is a crate smashing you into the pavement, a bird conveniently flies in the way of the basket to prevent you from scoring, a dog runs on the court and pulls your pants down and much much more. Characters look cool, street punks who are more interested in fights than basketball I suppose as you can completely knock out you opponents.

Harlem Globetrotters (DOS)

A 5-on-5 basketball game on DOS. It is pretty safe to say it is a complete disappointment – graphics are lame, gameplay is weak (probably you will get blocked every shot), sound effects are non-existing. Hard to say what I liked about the game?

TV Sports Basketball (Amiga)

I don’t know from where to start! First of all, graphically it looks so much better than any other computer or console basketball game in 1990 (punk shot of course is completely another league, but it’s arcade). It has smooth animations, bright colors and it’s realistic. And it has so much more to offer! You can pick a team from any NBA team, you have players to manage (however, rosters didn’t looks correct and contain made up players), you have statistics – so you can score only with specific player if you like and make him superstar. You can shoot, you can dunk, you can pass, you can rebound. You can foul out and substitute – so it’s a real basketball simulation! However, sound effect are really minimal – little soundtrack wouldn’t hurt. Otherwise the game is very enjoyable!

Basketball Video Games of 1990

To sum things up, out of these basketball games you can find something for every taste. You can find aggressive street basketball kind of games with no rules, or you can play quite realistic simulations with teams and players (none of them have real teams or real players, however). Or you can play something, else. Unfortunately, none of them would be considered a classic these days – as basketball video games got better and better by every next year, these games have been forgotten, mostly.

The best of those basketball games – Punk Shot!

Nintendo SNES Mini

Nintendo SNES Mini has the same look and feel of the original system only smaller and comes pre-loaded with 21 games. Step back into the 90s and re-experience some timeless classics!

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