Basketball Nightmare (Master System Review)

Tommy drew the short straw to get the ball back
Tommy drew the short straw to get the ball back


Basketball Nightmare is an apt name for this game –I’m still waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat thinking about it.  It’s a 1989 basketball game and let’s be honest, they’ve all been dog awful previously so why should this be any different?  The Master System suffers from a lot of rushed titles and this is definitely one of them.  It also feels like it was developed by a team whose sections had no communication with each other!


Uh oh...
Uh oh…


Your task is to navigate five stages, each a minute long that comprise one course.  The stages and courses get progressively more difficult and as with all coin-op conversions of this sort seem to go on forever.  The acceleration of the bike is incredible and the three frames of animation serve the purpose well. The premise of Basketball Nightmare in the one-player mode is to control a human team and defeat six different animal teams (the first one comprised solely of werewolves).


The versus mode allows two players to choose from several human teams but I couldn’t see the monster teams on there.  Sounds like a pretty good idea.  Or it would be if the basketball wasn’t so terrible.


You come up with a caption for this!
You come up with a caption for this!


Initially it looks like a zoomed in version of the horrendous World Soccer, complete with tiny arrows above the players you’re controlling.  It looks colourful but blurs almost instantly.  The “1” button changes player, shoots and also tackles, I think, whilst the “2” button passes the button.  Nothing seems to make sense.  When you press the pass button, it chooses a teammate completely at random which is really annoying.  The select player and tackle button never seems to work.  The first CPU opponents will score and score and score on you, they never miss.  Which means that when you’ve got the ball you’ve got to score.  There is a “trick”, whereby you can lose the CPU player by running up and then toward the net, double tapping the shoot button.  This brings up an impressive cut scene of your player (or the opposition) doing a nice somersault and dunking the ball (see earlier comment about team cohesion).

There is no reason to pick this game up again after the first ass-whooping.  The CPU demo mode didn’t seem to work on the version we got.  At least watching the thing would have only been half as frustrating.  If you’ve spent money on this game then you may have a slight reason to persist with it.  If there’s still a chance you can return it, do it, do it now.




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