When Dyl asked me to write the odd Jag review for Arcade Attack I was filled with joy and was really looking forward to my mission. I felt ready for anything that was thrown at me and was willing to face anything head on. How wrong I was! I am now sitting here feeling tortured, violated and numb in disbelief. What have I put myself through and will I ever be the same again? I have just played White Men Can’t Jump. Sure, I had heard the rumours, I had read the lists of worst games of all time, but until you have witnessed this game yourself you will never quite know how bad gaming can get.
In principle this game could have worked. Here are a few areas that should have given this title a sporting chance:
White Men Can’t Jump is based (very loosely truthfully) on a great basketball film from the 90s.
The game comes packaged with a free Team Tap adaptor allowing up to four players to get their game on! (that’s pretty great – Ed)
The game was released in 1995, a whole year before NBA Jam on the Jaguar, so there was no direct competition when first sold.
But boy did they screw it up!
The game is a half court, two-on-two basketball game that really fails to deliver that three pointer! You play either the VS or tournament mode. As stated earlier the VS mode allows up to 4 players to play the game, with the use of the provided Team Tap adaptor. Unfortunately my second hand purchase of the game did not include this adaptor, so I never got to sample the game any further than 2 players. To be fair to White Men Can’t Jump, you are given quite a few different options to help customise your game and add a little extra spice to it. These include the opportunity to select from 15 teams including the Beach Bums, Cool Cats, Dirty Rats, Muscle Boyz and the Urban Angles – as in 90 degree angles, although they are spelt Angels elsewhere in the game, an obvious error in the game! You can also choose between four different courts (beach, street, city and rural) and then select if you are playing against human or computer opponents.
The tournament mode is again quite original and does try to add a little story to the game. Your aim is to play in the Slam City Street Basketball Tournament, however to do this you must earn $5,000. Unfortunately you are broke, so are forced to borrow money from the local loan sharks – the Breakneck Brothers! They are interestingly named Tangle and Cash (but sadly look nothing like Sly or Kurt). Even in times of deep austerity and poverty, I would really recommend staying clear of these bad guys, but not to be deterred from playing in your dream tournament you quickly borrow £500. With interest rates at rock bottom and a probable poor credit rating you must use all your skills and trickery to turn your $500 into $5,000 through basketball hustling. After each local game you will either add to your money or it will dwindle away, all depending if your match ends in victory or defeat. Lose too many games and the Breakneck Brothers will use more than harsh words on you. You can gamble between three amounts before each game and when you reach the $5,000 target you are automatically entered into the Slam City Street Basketball Tournament. What does Slam City have in store for you? A well devised knock-out tournament against new and more powerful opponents and a chance to show off your well-developed basketball skills? Nope, you are quickly thrown into a very underwhelming one-off final game which will determine if you are the tournament winners (booooo – Ed).
White Men Can’t Jump so far sounds mediocre, and to be fair a few original ideas were implemented. But what lets down the game so badly is the gameplay and playability. I just couldn’t get to grips with the poor controls and found it very hard to get the ball through the hoop. Truthfully, I have never been very good at basketball games and much prefer a game of Sensible Soccer or Brutal Sports Football on the Jag. However, I do enjoy the odd game of NBA Jam as it is just so easy to pick up and play against your mates. White Men Can’t Jump does not offer a similar experience. The controls are clunky, it is quite difficult to move around the court in the right direction and most of my shots either ended up in my opponent’s arms or bounced a few feet from the hoop. I guess some of my negativity is stemmed from my poor ability to grasp and properly play the game, and for that I do apologise. I just didn’t find the experience fun at all. However, saying that I did quite enjoy the violent edge to the game. With no referee on your court, you are free to win back the ball any way possible, this can including pushing and shoving!
The graphics are also very poor in my eyes. I do appreciate that the swinging vertical court camera is quite clever as it aims to zoom in and out of the action, but I felt this added to the confusion of the game and hindered my ability to move around the court. Call me old fashioned, but I much preferred the sharper (and truthfully safer) NBA Jam horizontal view.
I also feel the game tries too hard to be in your face with it’s over the top title screen, very poor and enlarged FMV sequences that are so cringe worthy it hurts and the fluorescent lettering dotted throughout the game. Although you could argue it does replicate the 90’s rad feel, which I guess isn’t the worst thing ever. The music is also very poor and forgettable and the in-game voices quickly become annoying and repetitive.
Is White Men Can’t Jump the worst game ever made? Probably not, but it is certainly one of the worst Jaguar games I have ever played. I really like the rawness of the film and feel the game should have tried to stay closer to its roots. I am a huge Jaguar gamer, and it saddens me to be so damning and scathing. It is certainly more Slam Funk than Slam Dunk!