Barkley Shut Up and Jam, I think that pretty much says it all and Accolade should really know better. This game is pretty much a direct copy of NBA Jam (that’s a lot of Basketball preserve…) but with the added endorsement from one Sir Charles Barkley. Exactly when the queen bestowed this honour upon him is unclear although I have sent a telegram to Buckingham Palace.
If you’ve seen any Accolade game (Bubsy and er…Double Dragon immediately spring to mind) you’ll know that their quality fluctuates. A lot. Barkley’s intro screens are grainy and lack polish, although they’re functional. The game has three modes – exhibition, series (a best of, one-off play-off type thing) and a tournament. You might as well just go for the exhibition as you’ll be bored within 20 minutes. Barkley is pedestrian at best. The graphics are blocky, although it does score points (maybe not 3) for having multiple “stadia” with only one being a stadium, the others being on the “street” although Wikipedia indicates no such hardships for young Charles…
For a game produced a year after NBA Jam, everything looks blocky and unrefined in comparison. The street courts are comprised of horrible, massive, four-shade grey pixels. The sprites too are less well drawn than in NBA, with the particularly amusing side view of Sir Charles (where he looks like a crazy bald man with a monobrow) being an unwanted highlight.
The action feels stunted and the game is ridiculously easy. You can sprint to the byline and shoot three-pointers all day long. Sir Charles is the only licensed player in the game with the rest made up of fictional street characters with varying abilities. In exhibition mode, you can only choose who you want to play as and your teammate –the opposition is randomised? You’re rewarded with the credits when you win an exhibition match – you wonder if Accolade looked at NBA Jam at all. The terrible sound and repetitive music are the rancid cherries on top of a woeful cake. The occasional Barkley soundbites like “time out” and “game over” failing to mask the awful FX.