Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Video Game Review: Harlem Globetrotters - NES

For this entry I am going to be reviewing an old Globetrotter video game from 1991 titled simply "The Harlem Globetrotters". Instead of "Generals vs Globetrotters 91" Like I would have called it.

This game was released for the original Nintendo NES way back in the day. So is it a bit of vintage goodness? Well first of all, here are some of the things I liked the most about this game.

It is for one or two players and if playing two player mode you can choose to be opponents or team mates. You also can choose how long each quarter is, making them as short as 1 minute a piece if that's how you roll.

It's true five on five basketball, not two on two, not three on three, and not technically five players but two from each team stay on one side of the court.

The Globetrotters do perform several trick shots, behind the back passes, and a fancy slam dunk could be done by the Globetrotters. They even have the magic circle in the title screen.

I am not sure how you make the trick shots happen, it seemed to be random. You could also do layups as either team if you shot from close inside the basket, and you could also perform a more traditional slam dunk as the Generals. It seemed to happen if you broke away, which was hard to do.

But the thing I like most of all, it allows you to play as either the Harlem Globetrotters or the Washington Generals. Guess which team I chose?

It did have it's down sides however.

The game is insanely hard. Even on "rookie" mode it is incredibly hard to beat the game. I have heard that it is a bit easier to win if you play the Globetrotters. I tried that and maybe it technically was a bit easier, but not by much.

That isn't surprising actually, NES seemed to think that making games insanely hard to beat was how players got their monies worth. I won't argue if they made it too easy it wouldn't be fun. But after 5 games you should not still be losing 146 to 78. Even for a Generals vs Globetrotters game that is crazy.

Stealing the ball from the opposing team requires you to be directly behind the other player and time it just right. So you will almost never pull it off, where as the computer will have no problem stealing the ball from you almost at will. Ironically those flaws almost made the game more realistic since I was playing as the Generals, but I am sure that is not what they were going for.

I also have no idea how fouls work. If you run straight into the opposing player you do get fouled for charging, but in the 5 games I played I only saw a free throw happen once. And I still have no idea what the foul was.

On a final note the color scheme bothered me. For one thing the Globetrotters were purple. I know that the NES had a limited color scheme to work with, but the title screens had the Globetrotters wearing blue. So I am not sure why they had to be purple in the game play.

By the same token, the Generals were white, but the player you controlled actually was green. (the Globetrotters controllable player was yellow).

I don't remember off the top of my head whether the Generals uniforms were predominantly green or gold at the time. But as noted, both of those colors were used for the selectable players. So I am not clear why they felt the Washington Generals uniforms had to be white.

You also could only play as only two teams, the Trotters or the Generals. Kind of understandable given the premise, not like the Globetrotters are part of a league. They seemed to have used some of the space they would have spent making multiple teams to enhance the game play. But even for NES that was a pretty limited options and cut down on the replay value.

So was it worth it? Honestly, as a whole I would have to say no. Even taken into the context of when it was made, the game has a lot of flaws. It also lacks the replayability of other sports games, where once you beat the game there wouldn't be much incentive to play again.

If you have an old NES and were looking for a fun game, I would go with Double Dribble. Definitley a better basketball game for the NES.

Still, it does have some features other NES basketball games lacked. And to date it is the only video game version of the Globetrotters to feature the Washington Generals. Much less allow you to play as them.

So if you have the patience it just may be worth snagging at that flea market. Just don't let anyone convince you this vintage game is worth a "collectible" price.

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