I nearly picked up this game on it’s initial release but then when I read a couple of reviews, I paused. No online play they said, poor graphics they said, game felt unfair they said. Despite that though, the idea of having a sports game on the Nintendo Switch was interesting enough that it never fully left my thoughts and then I got it a few weeks ago as a Father’s Day present. My initial experiences have made me glad I did – smashing your opponent to the ground as you nail an alley-opp slam dunk is a joy that could cover multiple issues!
Let me tackle those issues that gave me pause. Firstly, there is indeed no online play on the Switch version. As yet that hasn’t really annoyed me as I’m still getting to grips with it offline. Hopefully it will finally arrive before I get bored of the single player mode. Secondly, the graphics. I’m not sure what other people are seeing but it looks great to me. It’s not really a game that I am expecting amazing visuals from. What I want is a smooth-running game with tons of spectacular animations – that’s exactly what we have here.
Lastly, the gameplay. I can see why some people feel the game is unfair. The scoring system is quite varied – a basket can count for 2 points to 12 points depending on what else is going on in the game. Really though, it’s not unfairness that is the issue, it’s inconsistency. Many games are ‘unfair’ (just recently we have had a new Mario Kart game – possibly the best example of not getting what you deserve in gaming, ever) but at least they apply that consistently so you know what to expect. Here you have things like the ‘perfect shot’ mechanic, whereby an extra point is awarded for timing your button press perfectly. However, the window for this perfection is so small that I have never found it. Indeed it is different for each different player you choose on your team so you have even less chance of nailing it intentionally. As such, it then feels unfair when the opposition gets a +1 for a perfect shot but really its the inconsistency of what happens when any player is shooting that causes the issue.
They are promising a patch that will fix things like this (as well as giving online play) so hopefully that will materialise before I am ready to do a full review of this game. In the meantime I am just going to have to get better to try and counteract these dramas – and I’m happy to do so because I’m having a lot of fun with the quick gameplay, the spectacular slam dunks & blocks and the quest to collect all the players from my favourite NBA team, the Toronto Raptors.