We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a look at basketball’s presence in other genres of video games.
Here at the NLSC, we cover basketball video games; you may have noticed! We were founded as a fansite for NBA Live way back in 1996, existing for many years as the NBA Live Series Center. As the NBA 2K series grew in popularity and was finally ported to PC, we began covering it as well. When we re-branded ourselves as simply the NLSC in 2011, we decided that we’d officially dedicate ourselves to basketball gaming as a whole. Be it NBA Live, NBA 2K, NBA Jam, NBA Playgrounds, or any other hoops title, it’s a welcome topic in our Forum, and something we’ll consider creating content for.
Of course, while we’re passionate about basketball games in this community, most of us tend to play a variety of other genres, too. From platform and action games to first person shooters and RPGs, our interests extend beyond the virtual hardwood. The funny thing is that basketball tends to follow us around, showing up in settings where elements such as playcalling AI, realistic stats, and accurate player ratings are of no importance. Just for fun, I thought that I’d take a look at some other games where basketball makes a cameo, despite the title otherwise not having anything to do with the sport, or any of its most famous players.
The Flintstones: The Rescue of Dino & Hoppy
This old game for the Nintendo Entertainment System is a platformer based on the classic Hanna-Barbera series The Flintstones. The object is to progress through all the levels and recover pieces of The Great Gazoo’s time machine, so that Fred Flintstone and company can travel to the future to save their pets Dino and Hoppy. Generally speaking, the game has very little to do with basketball. However, there is a mini-game between levels where Fred faces off against a gruff character who challenges him to a game of prehistoric basketball. It really shows great restraint on the part of the developers that they didn’t make a pun about “handling the rock”.
In this Stone Age variation of basketball, it’s a one-on-one, full court game. There are no fouls, so you’re free to hit your opponent with a hip check in order to steal the ball. In typical Flintstones style, the baskets are not hoops mounted on a pole; instead, that role is filled by animals, namely a couple of pelicans. Scoring baskets is therefore challenging, as the pelicans won’t always open their bills to accommodate your shot. Although primitive in every sense of the word, the mini-game actually displays some decent basketball mechanics. It’s a strange addition, feeling somewhat out of place compared to the regular levels, but it was a fun change of pace all the same.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
In between following the damn train and getting revenge on the friends who betrayed him, Carl Johnson had plenty of opportunities to work on his jumpshot. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas expanded the game world with a variety of mini-games, including basketball. While there was no competitive play outside of a cutscene featuring Sweet and Big Smoke, CJ was able to shoot around on a number of courts located around Los Santos, including a private court in Madd Dogg’s Crib that becomes accessible after a certain point in the story. He can also dunk, and spin the ball on his finger.
Although strictly a solo affair, it’s still an enjoyable distraction. It’s possible to activate a challenge in which you must score as many points as possible in the allotted time, a record that you can then try to break. The game will also record your longest field goal. I recall trying to make the longest shot possible by running out onto the road when shooting around beside Sweet’s house. It’ll end the shootaround since you’ve left the court area, but it is actually possible to make a shot standing out on Grove Street. Courts can also be found in Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, but they’re just part of the environment, and cannot be interacted with.
Basketball doesn’t play a huge role in the Fallout series, but the sport does have some presence in the games. While baseball bats are a far more common weapon, and even pitching machines have been utilised as makeshift security systems, basketballs can be turned into ammunition for the Rock-It Launcher. They’re not as plentiful as other miscellaneous items, though. As such, if you like decorating your safe house or just collecting rarer items, you probably won’t want to go around shooting them at Raiders and other enemies. Basketballs can also be found in Fallout: New Vegas, though the Rock-It Launcher isn’t around to turn them into ammo.
I like to keep at least one basketball in storage at my primary safe house, just for the sake of having it in my collection. I usually keep it in a container so that it doesn’t disappear, though it would obviously look much better out on a shelf. When moved around and bounced in the game world, basketballs even have a proper sound effect. Sadly, there’s no way to really play basketball in Fallout, though you will find some old hoops in Fallout 4, such as the one in the college ruins. Then again, between the radiation, mutated creatures, Raiders, and other perils of the assorted Wastelands, it’s not easy to kick back with some companions for a friendly game of G.H.O.U.L.
Although I play other video games to take a break from basketball titles, I do enjoy seeing my favourite sport referenced and represented in some way, or make a cameo as a mini-game. What are some other video games from different genres that utilise basketball as a playable element, or feature the sport in some way despite otherwise having nothing to do with it? Let me know in the comments section below!