NBA Playgrounds brings back the classic arcade sport game along with a load of fun.
This game was hot on everyone’s radar as it brings back the nostalgic feel of the famous NBA Jam. I got my hands on the version for the Nintendo Switch as I was excited to be able to pick it up on the go.
You get 3 packs right out of the gate to open of random NBA players. These players can be used in an exhibition match or a tournament match. Tournament wins unlock more playgrounds or courts to play on and exhibition is just a basic match where you can play locally or against the comp.
First thing I noticed was the horrible graphics on the Switch version undocked. It looks decent when docked by not near as good on the PS4 or Xbox One. Saber has already
confirmed a patch for this and online play.
Off the bat, the controls are pretty hard to grasp. Offering little tutorial, the AI takes no mercy and begins to straight murk you like the Spurs did the Rockets in Game 6 of the Western Semi’s. Pushing, swatting, and stealing almost every possession thanks to the completely useless AI teammates. He basically just stands around and watches you until you pass it to him and control him making it extremely difficult to win against an already tough CPU opponent. Even on Novice I had a tough time getting my first win.
Like every game, however, you get used to the controls and do slightly better. There is no confirmed method to perfecting a jump shot. There is no meter and releasing at the same point each time is extremely inconsistent. The dunks and layups are the same way. Timing is critical and there is no documentation on how to perfect it. I found myself missing easy breakaway dunks with Anthony Davis which is sad. Combine this with the efficient CPU opponents doing crazy dunks and steals, the game feels like a three point contest. Meaning I have to pull up and just shoot 3’s to stay in the game. It’s still very fun to shoot 3’s but I would hope to do cool dunks and ally’s as well.
The game is still super fun and cool to see modern players on the court playing street ball. The players faces look exactly like them with a comical look.
One of the worst features besides the AI is the displaying of the scoreboard and shot clock. I couldn’t tell what was what. Game time or shot clock, I couldn’t tell. The have the scoreboards located somewhere in the corner or in the middle hidden somewhere making it very difficult to see how much time you need for plays.
Things get extra sticky when your opponent gets a Power Up and cuts the shot clock to 12 seconds. Basically you have just rush each shot and hope it falls. Speaking of the power ups, each team gets a meter to be filled by stealing, dunking or shooting. Each power up really can change the game.
Each player also has a stamina bar which is really hard to read and doesn’t make any sense at all which bring me to my next point. The buzzing or vibrations of the controller when the stamina runs out, which is a lot.
The buzzing is extremely loud and very annoying. If you plan on playing in a quiet environment you have to go to the console home screen and turn off ‘Rumble’ as there is currently no fix in-game.
I can go on and on about how hard the CPU is and that they rarely miss a shot or dunk and always seem to steal the ball or push you and the worst times but It’s time I mention what I do love about this fun game. The roster is deep and has a lot of legends of the game and current superstars. The fact that you have to play matches to boost up your profiles experience points to unlock more card packs or players is a huge plus. This makes users come back for more and makes it worth playing. Winning tourney’s, as mentioned before, gives you new courts and a golden pack which guarantee’s a ‘legendary’ player. Each legendary player comes with there own special move which can be used during a match multiple times.
Wrapping up, NBA Playgrounds isn’t as deep as NBA Street, Ballers or Jam, but the cartoonish gameplay and arcade feel really make this game one to pick up with your friends or at a party. Earning packs and courts is very rewarding and keeps it interesting along with pretty fun gameplay and moves.