NEKKETSU STREET BASKET / Technos / NES
 
 
Everyone likes River City Ransom and Super Dodgeball. And there were other good games in the Kunio (Nekketsu High School) series. But the games like Nekketsu Street Basket are object lessons in the ol' "too much of a good thing." There was a point in the mid-to-late life cycle of the NES (and the early days of the SNES) where Technos seemed like they were pumping these games out about once every three months, at least in Japan. The majority of them were never localized for a Western audience, not surprising because there's no possible way you can keep quality up on a production schedule like that.
 


Street Basket looks like they pretty much just took the engine of Nekketsu Kakutou Densetsu and added a ball and some hoops to it. Since it's wacky no-holds-barred basketball, there's actually up to four hoops piled on top of each other - it's possible to shoot a bucket in the topmost one and have it fall down through the other three for bonus points. The games are 2-on-2, you can attack the other players, random weapons get scattered about in the playfield as well. The story is that Kunio wins some game show and gets a free trip to America, and Riki and co. hide in the landing gear as there's a street basketball tournament with a big prize that they want to enter. In single player mode you can only play as Team Kunio and have to challenge the eight American teams in the order of your choosing; in multiplayer mode you can pick any of the teams.
 


The unconventional basket situation and the combat and all that are fine on their own, I mean there's no reason that concept can't work. But the game is just full of little gameplay hinks and oversights such that I wonder if it was rushed through the polish / Q&A stages. Partner AI in single player mode is the first and biggest problem. As with Kakutou Densetsu, some of the stages have little background features you can use to advantage. In New York, for example, there's two subway entrances you can run between at either end of the court a la Pac-Man. The problem is your dopeass partner apparently thinks these are way more fun than winning the game and will continually run through them even when he has a clear path to the hoop. I have never once seen the partner even try to pass to you, regardless of what strategy you set. They also never shoot for the higher baskets regardless of settings.
 


That last problem compounds with another problem - the rims can be knocked off and have to be shot back into place. The problem is that the computer can take your rim and run off to their side of the court with it; if they get over there without you scrolling the screen along with them, somehow they huck it entirely off the playfield and you can never get it back. If the bottommost rim goes, your partner seems to not be aware of it and keeps attempting shots there anyway. You also can't scroll the screen to chase an absconding CPU player without them coming along with you, which they won't if they have the ball, they'll just keep trying stupid shots at where the rim used to be. It wouldn't be a total gamebreaker except that, again, the partner also never seems to want to shoot at the higher rims, so if the bottom one goes off you're screwed every time your partner touches the ball.
 


One other absolutely horrible gameplay decision that I can't even believe is in the game - if you're facing the opponent's rim when you press the shoot button, even if you're way across the court, your character will automatically huck the ball *toward their rim*. If it goes in? Points for them. That's just an embarassingly terrible bit of design. Forget fadeaway jumpers in this one.

Unless it was a total rushjob, I dunno what the hell Technos was doing with this. It's like they couldn't figure out how to implement any sort of play balance or difficulty curve to prevent a totally new player from torching the CPU 100-0 (as evidenced by Nintendo World Cup), so their janky solution was to just blatantly fuck the player over. Like many of the Kunio games it's probably more enjoyable with 2 to 4 players but the solo experience is almost completely worthless.
 
 
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