April 21
Also on Xbox 360

Video game basketball hasn’t been improved upon much lately. Arcade basketball games haven’t gotten better in 15 years.

Double Dribble. NBA Jam. Barkley: Shut Up and Jam! There’s your peak folks.

NBA Ballers: Chosen One featuring Dwight Howard isn’t at that level. It’s not addictive. It doesn’t have that classic video game feel. It’s got good graphics, a lot of nicely rendered players and great sounds. Like every video game (except Wii titles).

Don’t read too far into this review. Ballers isn’t a bad game, it’s just drawn that way. It sells itself as a pick-up-and-go arcade basketball title, but it’s so clouded with fancy controls and RULES that you lose sight of virtual reality.

Fouls. There shouldn’t be fouls in an arcade basketball game. Better yet, there should be, but the other player should have to call his foul on you like in street ball. And the more he calls fouls on you, the worse his player shoots. That’s a great idea.

Goaltending. GOALTENDING. Why is there goaltending in this game?

The game’s most honest attempt at originality is “act a fool” combos. You start by holding shoulder and face buttons together while standing near a player. Buttons appear onscreen and you have to press the corresponding ones on the controllers as quick as you can before the other player (or, rarely, the computer AI) does. Successful combos leads to bigger and better dunks. The problem is that it’s way too complicated for a simple arcade

Make it simple. NBA Jam got famous for (among other things) the “he’s on fire” mode — and all that took was three made shots in a row. — Gameplay leads to better gameplay. And in a modern arcade basketball game, every, single slam dunk should be spectacular and off the freaking wall.

Ballers isn’t off the freaking wall. It’s very much on the wall — of your local game store, and it’s staying there as its Ebay stock falls from $40 to $10.

Let’s get a little plug in here. I saw a demo of 2K Sports’ NBA 2K9 at E3 a few weeks ago. Hold off and buy it when it comes out.

About The Author

John Guilfoil is the editor-in-chief of Blast: Boston's Online Magazine and the Blast Magazine Network. He can be reached at [email protected]. Tweet @johnguilfoil.

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