I know I'm in a minority of one, but I normally hate sports simulations. If they're not realistic, they're a waste of time and even if they are realistic, why don't you get out and play the real thing instead?
Basket Master may yet have converted me, though. Nothing to do with wickerwork (or being a loony) it's a product of Spanish maestros Dinamic, and so features a guest celebrity one Fernando Martin, who is apparently something big down Madrid way. Rather than try to create a full team game, the programmers have sensibly opted for a one-on-one format which makes it possible to concentrate much more on the animation and computer player intelligence.
The cartoon-style graphics show you and your opponent, human or computer, facing off across the court (field? pitch?) The crowd jiggles with excitement... the ball bounces centre court... the match is on!
The players jog convincingly towards the ball, and from then on it's a case of jostling for possession without performing any fouls. If you capture the ball by pressing the Fire button when the proximity indicator shows that you are within range, your next task is to prevent your opponent from tackling, to do this, you must turn your back to him while you run, by selecting a direction control then pressing the function button. He can't try to tackle you from behind without risking pushing you, and conceding two free shots at the basket.
If you get near enough to the basket to risk a shot, one press of the Fire button makes you leap in the air, and a second makes the shot. If you hit the rim, the ball will bounce back into play and you must watch its shadow, time your leap and fight for possession again. If you score a basket, the crowd goes wild, and you see a brilliant close-up slow-motion replay of your glorious victory.
One clever part is the way the computer chooses which kind of shot you make. For instance, if you are standing right under the basket, you'll make a slamdunk (ramming the ball straight down through the hoop). You can also perform back-twists, sky-hooks and straight shots, all of which look great in the action replays.
Since I don't know any basketball jokes to end on, let's just say that Basket Master is refreshingly different and playable, and you should get down to the shops and slam one in your basket at once.
(You're right - you don't know any basketball jokes - Ed)
Reviewer: Tamara Howard
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