Written by robin, published May 21st, 2009. 8 comment(s).
Stern has just announced their latest game: "NBA", a licensed theme featuring USA basketball.
For basketball fans -and there are quite a lot, according to the Stern press release, it was about time for another game of basket-pinball. After all, it's been over 8 years since the last basketball-themed pin rolled of the Chicago factory lines. And while many of you now probably think of one of Bally's last games, the 1997 "NBA Fastbreak", I'm actually referring to that other 1997 game: "Space Jam".
Apparently, NBA will bear close resemblance to the layout of the Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny pin.
An early preview from Pinballnews calls the game a "re-worked Space Jam" which sounds rather negative compared to the earliest actual playing report from long-time unofficial early development game test subject Wolffy. He uses the word "redone" drawing comparisons to Williams' High Speed pin, which also had a 'sequel' in Getaway II, rather similar in look and feel but still different in gameplay.
Click on the image above and see for yourself. I think there's enough originality in the new NBA to call it a proper sequel and not a remake.
20 players from that American Basketbal Association - better known as the NBA will appear in this game. Who can we expect? An overview, courtesy of the guys at BMI gaming:
Carmelo Anthony | Denver Nuggets
Gilbert Arenas | Washington Wizards
Elton Brand | Philadelphia 76'ers
Kobe Bryant | L.A. Lakers
Baron Davis | L.A. Clippers
Kevin Durant | Oklahoma City Thunder
Vince Carter | New Jersey Nets
Kevin Garnett | Boston Celtics
Dwight Howard | Orlando Magic
Allen Iverson | Detroit Pistons
Lebron James | Cleveland Cavaliers
Yao Ming | Houston Rockets
Dirk Nowitzki | Dallas Mavericks
Shaquille O'Neal | Phoenix Suns
Tony Parker | San Antonio Spurs
Chris Paul | New Orleans Hornets
Nate Robinson | New York Knicks
Derrick Rose | Chicago Bulls
Brandon Roy | Portland Trailblazers
Dwayne Wade | Miami Heat
I must admit, I know exactly 2 of these players - but hey, I'm from Europe. On a side note, it's kinda fun that's Shaq is in there.
With the game being a sequel to Space Jam, it is not strange that the game resembles that previous incarnation quite a lot. However, a very cool design element from Bally's NBA Fastbreak also made it's way in to the game: three ramps are now feeding the hoop, instead of one. One of them, fittingly called the free throw shot, will allow a ball to fly 12 inches (30 centimeter) through the air and -hopefully- into the hoop. That does sound very spectacular, but I do get a nasty flashback to the 1997 Space Jam machine. Each and every single one of 'em seemed to have a busted hoop assembly. I hope that Stern has learned and will make this hoop stronger.
NBA also features a spinning disc -a giant spalding basketball- for some wacky ball action on the middle playfield. Personally, I love this kind of mechanical action as opposed to hidden magnets under the playfield (like in the Addams Family), they're so much more comprehensible to the novice player.
As for artwork, the game borrows heavily from NBA Fastbreak. The wood texture of the basketball court and the coloring and feel is all a lot like the 1997 Bally game. It is not as spectacular as the two foot Michael Jordan image in Space Jam, but makes for a more serious look.
Some elements from Space Jam did not make it into the sequel, most notably the ramp-through-a-basketball (that was so cool!) and the shotclock above the hoop assembly. And then there's the skillshot basket right off the plunger. Well actually it's not, this rather original skill shot didn't make the cut.
I don't know about you, but I think this game's is gonna be fun! I must admit I'm not a huge basketball fan, but hey I hated the Spiderman movies and Stern's Spidey pin is one of my favourites. Let's hope it will arrive in Europe in big numbers, we need more games!