I guess the idea was to give each side a head-on look at the basket. Unfortunately the rotation effect is disconcerting at best and becomes nauseating over time. You can pretty much forget about converting any fast break opportunities. And the players are so tiny! You can't tell the bigs from the smalls because they're all small.
The ball-handler's name is displayed on the bottom and I was glad to see old favorites like Detlef Shrempf, Anfernee Hardaway, Chris Mullen, Kenny Smith, and Hakeem Olajuwon. Don't look for Michael Jordan as he was "retired" when this was made. The action on the court is precise but so stiff that running into a defender will stop you dead in your tracks. If you're not wide open your shot will miss badly or get rejected. On the other hand, when you do get the rare chance to slam the ball it's all the more satisfying.
I wish the team names were displayed on the scoreboard instead of just "home" and "visitor" because I always forget which one I am. In what can only be considered a hilarious glitch, the ball will randomly transform into a green apple. Even famed commentator Marv Albert comes off flat, delivering muffled lines like "hits the three!", "rejected!" and "what a play!" NBA Action '94 feels too clinical, lacking the energy and natural flow that makes the sport so much fun. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
The menu music in this game has an infectious "rubber band funk" sound only the Genesis can pull off. The controls are easy to grasp, with A as speed burst, B to pass, and C to shoot. In contrast to the last game, NBA Action '95 is very offensive-minded. It seems like every possession has the potential to be a fast break. There's a lot of follow-on dunks which is very cool, but the overhead view tends to undermine the sense of elevation.
On defense it's a good idea to keep a player guarding the hoop or the CPU will drive to the basket every time. There's no three-second violations but you will see calls for over-the-back and traveling. It looks funny how between free throws the shooter has to retrieve his own ball. I love the fast pace but the animation quality around the hoop is so rough, it's not always clear that the ball passed through the net.
The crowd sounds more like dogs than people. They tend to be totally silent or in full bark mode. Marv Albert livens things up with energetic remarks like "Oh - he was mugged!", "Jams it home!", and "He served up a facial!" Although unbalanced and sloppy at times, NBA Action 95 gets by on the strength of its loose, up-and-down style. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
Live is not especially realistic, but it certainly is fun. Before each game, you're treated to a dramatic starting lineup introduction as digitized photos are displayed. The action is fast and fluid, with plenty of fast breaks, alley-oops, banks off the glass, razzle-dazzle slam-dunks, and spectacular missed dunks. The jump-pass is an awesome new move that lets you draw in the defense before finding an open man.
On defense you can block shots and even crash the boards. Steals are meant to be performed automatically, but running into the ball carrier will usually knock the ball loose (turn down the fouls frequency first). Pushing opponents out of bounds is another cheap but effective strategy. There are some funny animations, like players shaking their head after being knocked to the floor, or pointing their fingers after a slam-dunk.
Option menus let you customize every aspect of the game, and "sliders" let you fine-tune the frequency of offensive and defensive fouls. Four players can participate at once with the EA multi-tap, which is an absolute riot. NBA Live even tracks individual "user" statistics, allowing participants to compare performances after the game.
NBA Live's music is memorable and funky, but the action on the court is relatively quiet. The game has a few minor glitches like being called for a backcourt violation when a steal occurs at mid-court. Since the rebound button is also used to shoot, occasionally you'll toss the ball the length of the court after pulling down a board. But if you're looking for a five-on-five basketball game that's fast and fun, NBA Live 95 is the way to go. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Otherwise NBA Live 96 offers the same fast, frenetic action as its predecessor, although the frame rate seems a bit less smooth. The players look slightly more refined, and new moves include a spin move for more agile players. Other minor additions include more play strategies, trivia questions between periods, and the ability to create your own player.
One reader informed me that the create-a-player feature has an "easter egg" of sorts. Should you try to create an unlicensed player like Jordan or Barkley, their statistics will "magically" appear. Other than that there are the usual quirks, like the CPU's uncanny ability to toss up full-court three-pointers as the clock winds down. NBA Live 96 provides the same up-tempo style of basketball fun the series is known for, but I prefer the 95 version. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
The action seems a bit faster, but not necessarily smoother. The box claims there are new moves like behind-the-back passes, crossover dribbles, and reverse lay-ups, but you'll rarely notice these. One significant new feature is the "manual stealing", which let's you press the A button to initiate a steal. Although it's much-needed, the execution is seriously lacking. EA should have incorporated a slider for steal frequency, because you can pretty much steal at will.
Another new feature is the ability to "lock" a player so you can retain control of him for the duration of the game. NBA Live 97's graphics are noticeably more vibrant and colorful than previous editions, and I like how the score is permanently displayed in the lower corner of the screen. Informative text is sometimes displayed across the bottom like "Bulls are on a 6-0 run". But what happened to the benches on the sidelines? They're gone! Especially in sports games, details like that really do matter. NBA Live 97 is a solid entry in the Live series, but not necessarily the best. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
The TV-style presentation has returned, with a single anchor behind a desk providing analysis before the game and also at halftime. The court includes an elaborate scoreboard where the scorer's table should be, flashing animations during the game. Michael Jordan is nowhere to be found, and the black referee from the first three games has been replaced with a white one.
The previous two EA basketball games were offensive-minded, but Showdown takes the opposite approach, tightening the defense to the extreme. Every game is a "block party" - any shot attempted with a man in your face will be rejected. The end result is less razzle-dazzle and more emphasis on strategy. Like past games, NBA Showdown is weak in terms of audio. Besides the bounce of the ball, the only sound you hear is "put it up!" as the clock ticks down. All in all, NBA Showdown was a positive step for the series, but it wasn't quite up to snuff -- yet. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
I will admit however that the animation is so silky smooth. You'd think the wide spacing of players would make passing easier, but the controls suck. You would not believe how complicated the control scheme is. In the instruction manual an entire long paragraph is dedicated to throwing an overhead pass... in seven easy steps! Needless to say, my first and only attempt resulted in a 10 second violation.
And the controls are so delayed! Even when you hit the turbo button it takes your player a full second or two to respond. Simply making a shot at point blank range feels like a colossal achievement. That's a shame because it looks cool when the CPU dunks! Man, I wish I could do that.
Then there are the glitches. After one opening tip-off the CPU player was blocked from crossing half-court... by the referee! The lone highlight of NCAA Final Four is its excellent 3D-style free-throw shooting screen, which is sadly wasted. Smooth but slow and unresponsive, this game couldn't even make the NIT much less the Final Four. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.
The SportsTalk guy has been unceremoniously axed in favor of a PA announcer who doesn't say much besides "first down!" and "touchdown!" Basically anything that ends with the word down. The new kicker meter looks funny. It's a diagram of the kicker's leg swinging on his body like a freaking pendulum. That brings back memories of Electric Football!
Without a commentator the game is forced to flash text recaps like "55 yard kickoff returned by blah blah blah..." These tend to linger on the screen for too long, and when you hit start to expedite the process it just takes you to the pause screen. Ugh.
You now hike and pass with C, changing receivers with A. Why pick two buttons that are so far apart? That said, the passing game is more forgiving this year. If your receiver is only covered by a single defender there's a good chance he'll pull down the pass. Zipping the ball by holding in the button will also improve your accuracy.
The running game is easier because your players can execute speed bursts to give them room. I also noticed it's easy to "pick up blockers" on offense, mainly because players tend to stick to each other. This can work against you, especially when you're "hung up" at the line, running in place but not quite tackled.
Visual glitches including "dead spots" along the sidelines where players become invisible. The fact that there's nothing behind the goal posts as far as the eye can see looks awful. The player animation is choppy at times.
One fun new feature is your ability to "talk trash" during and after certain plays. I think it only works with the six-button controller, but it's fun to shout "where you goin'?", "see ya!", and "I'm gone!" repeatedly. NFL '95 has its moments, and the fact that it's so offensive-minded helps smooth over its flaws. © Copyright 2022 The Video Game Critic.
The game assumes a vertical perspective that allows you to see a good distance down the field. Players are realistically-proportioned but kind of tiny! NFL '94 reprises the "zoom" feature of Joe Montana II, and players look impressively realistic up close.
The SportsTalk commentator has also returned! I always thought he was a great feature, and now he'll exclaim "oh my!" after a big hit and refer to a losing team as getting "embarrassed". Still, it annoys me when he says "zip" instead of "zero" when updating the score.
The new play-calling screen sure is complicated. I still struggle to wrap my brain around it. Once again there's no audio cue when you select a play. The passing game suffers from floaty passes, resulting in jump-balls if you don't hit your receiver in stride. Interceptions occur early and often. Why can't I complete a pass?! The kick meter is a mystery as well.
The game has a tendency to be unintentionally funny. Once I intercepted a pass in the end zone, but as soon as I was tackled the play was ruled a safety! Another time I missed a field goal, and while selecting my next play the commentator belatedly chimed in "the kick is on its way!" There's a periodic quick air horn that sounds like a fart. You never know when you're going to hear it, but it cracks me up every time.
Bells and whistles include chain gangs stepping out on the field to measure for first downs. It's a shame the halftime show has been scaled back to a simple stats screen. NFL '94 is a good-looking title but the quality of its gameplay is too inconsistent. © Copyright 2022 The Video Game Critic.
Other bells and whistles include a season mode, statistic tracking, and player cards. The game is fully customizable, and I'd advise you to turn those penalties off! NHL 94 doesn't have any fighting or blood, but that's okay, because they would only interrupt the flow of the action.
Interesting animations include a little boy in the front row of the crowd who occasionally walks up to the glass. When a player turns a hat trick, yellow hats are thrown onto the ice, although this looks so sloppy that I initially thought it was a glitch in the game! NHL '94 has held up well over the years, and I'd take the Pepsi Challenge between this and a modern hockey game any day of the week. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
The simple three-button control scheme fits the Genesis controller perfectly. The passing is dead-on, and you can inflict some hard-hitting checks on your opponent. There are no "one-timer" plays (they wouldn't appear until NHL '94), so you need to rely heavily on second-chance opportunities (i.e., the puck bounces off the goalie in front of the net). There's fighting, but once the novelty wears off it becomes a bit annoying. I always preferred to turn off all the penalties in order to ensure non-stop mayhem.
This version didn't have all the bells and whistles of its sequels (you can't play a whole season), but it does have instant replay and that cool zamboni. In terms of sound, the exaggerated grunts are classic, but that grinding "Road Rash" theme song just doesn't fit. Overall NHL Hockey is still more fun to play than most new hockey games. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
But by far the most entertaining aspect of NHL 93 is the inclusion of blood. That's right - after taking a vicious hit a player will sometimes wallow on his back as blood spills out of his head. This unintentionally hilarious feature is chronicled perfectly in the classic guy movie "Swingers" starring Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau.
NHLPA 93 was also the last NHL game to contain fighting for a number of years. In Swingers one of the guys explains that fighting was removed because "kids were hitting each other". NHLPA 93 is a fun, fast-paced game, but it has its share of quirks. In addition to the cheap wrap-around-goal (Tuan's "world famous"), you can often score by firing the puck straight through the goalie's legs. My friend Eric has perfected this bit of chicanery, much to my consternation.
Another effective tactic is to collide with the goalie, which moves him out of the crease, opening up a second-chance opportunity. Unfortunately, the gameplay is hampered by the lack of a "one-timer" move, which wasn't introduced until NHL 94.
As the title would indicate, this edition was the first licensed by the National Hockey League Player's Association, but the acronym was proved too unwieldy and was dropped from subsequent EA hockey games. NHLPA 93 isn't the best in the series, but it's worth playing if only to see a guy's head bleed. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
There's a wide selection of tracks but they're mainly differentiated by uninteresting backgrounds. To its credit, the game delivers a breakneck sense of speed and I love the whizzing noise as you drive beneath an overpass. Newman Haas would be a lot of fun if I could play the damn thing! The low angle makes it difficult to gauge upcoming turns, and even when you know they're coming you often can't slow down in time.
This game has rubber band physics of the worst kind. You'll painstakingly weave through a crowd of cars only to screw up and watch every single one pass you by - never to be seen again! It's so hard to maintain your position! Locating the pitstop is another issue. A handy map is displayed the lower part of the screen but a rear view mirror would have been nice. Newman Haas IndyCar featuring Nigel Mansell is not a bad-looking game but its steep difficulty and long name will scare off all but the most ardent racing fans. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
The hero is a middle-aged beach bum, out to save a bunch of babes that have been kidnapped. Despite the wacky title, the gameplay is surprisingly bland and unimaginative. You attack monsters with goofy weapons (like rubber chickens) and collect beach balls for points as you progress through each level.
The single innovative concept is the "dash" move, which makes you briefly invincible and able to leap long distances. The rest of the game is pure textbook. Normy didn't keep my interest for long, and the repetitive music didn't help. Maybe I'm jaded, but I didn't find any of the zany animations particularly amusing either. NOTE: To access the level select option, hold down A+B+C on the right controller when turning on the game. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.