I am not a big fan of basketball games on gaming systems. I have never really liked them much because unlike other sports titles, basketball relies heavily on computer-controlled players to help you win. I always feel far removed for the action. There is one basketball game that I always enjoyed a little more than others because it was not really traditional basketball. That game was NBA Jam. Why do I bring this up? Because NBA Showtime is NBA Jam, just with a different name. It is made by the same team that created the original Jam and NFL Blitz so if you like those types of games, Showtime is the game for you.
NBA Showtime carries the NBA licenses so you will get to play with your favorite players (including Shaq) and even the mascots. Take all of the rules out of basketball and play two on two and that is what you get with Showtime. Huge dunks, outrageous blocks, and no regards for any rules make this a fun game to play with your buddies but it may get a little frustrating to play against the cheater computer.
Make no mistake about it. This game is NBA Jam. I know that there is another game out on a different system that is actually called NBA Jam but the truth is, this is the REAL NBA Jam. Everything from the menu interface to the announcer to the gameplay are 100 percent Jam so if you liked the original Jam games, don't bother with the other recent versions.
If you have never played NBA Jam, it is basically a two on two basketball game that has no regards for rules. You push, shove, and dunk like there is no tomorrow. There is nothing that even remotely resembles a basketball simulation here. It is pure arcade action that is non-stop. Showtime takes this formula to the next level with awesome graphics but the gameplay is virtually unchanged since way back to the days of the Sega Genesis.
This game is all about the extremes. There are extreme dunks, extreme blocks, extreme steals, and extreme shots. There are at least four star players for each NBA team that you can choose from and they are ranked in various categories. The higher they are ranked in dunks, the more spectacular the dunks will be. The higher they are rated at three-pointers, the better the three-point percentage will be. They did a good job of modeling these attributes after the real life players so you will have a good idea of what to expect from players if you follow the NBA.
As with the old Jam games, players become on fire when they hit three shots in a row. Once a player is on fire, every time they shoot the ball, a trail of flames follows. When a player is on fire, their shooting percentage increases so you want to make sure that that player is taking all of the shots. They will remain on fire until the other team scores a basket. It sounds like it would be easy enough to get a player on fire but it is very rare that it happens and it is really neat to see. If you play games alone, the fun is had by creating a player and trying to build up his attributes. You gain player attribute points by winning three games in a row. I spent the majority of the time trying to build up my player to see if I could create a dominant player. This took quite a while but it was really fun and I did get attached to my guy. There are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to the look of your player. You can use the face of existing NBA stars, NBA mascots, and even a horse. There is nothing more entertaining than going up for a dunk as a horse.
I did have a couple of complaints with this game. The first is that if you do not have any buddies to play with, the game gets boring fairly quick. Once you have seen all of the dunks and blocked all of the shots, the game gets pretty repetitive. If you play with friends on the other hand, the game is a blast. Another thing that annoyed me about the game was that the computer cheated. Just like in Jam, they make sure the games stay close. That means if you get ahead, all of a sudden the other team starts stealing the ball and blocking all of your shots until the score evens out. If you are very competitive and hate to lose, this will really get your blood boiling. Also, I thought the goaltending calls were cheap. The computer almost never got called for goaltending on blatant infractions while I got called constantly.
The first time you play this game, you will absolutely be amazed at the player models. The faces look incredible. The players really look like the players. You know, with the Dreamcast basketball games, I almost feel embarrassed for all of my old PSX reviews where I said the players look like the players because looking at them on this system really showed me what players should look like. Everything from the animations to the crowds look great. Very impressive.
If you are looking for a game to play with your friends, this game is a blast. If you are looking for a game to play by yourself, you will not have as much fun in the long term as in the short. There are some really cool dunks and dunk animations but after you play a dozen games, you will have seen most of them. The player faces are so real it is almost unbelievable. I guess if you are looking for some fast paced, arcade action or if you loved the old Jam games, you should be in heaven.