TV Sports Basketball logo

CINEMAWARE £29.99 * Joystick and Keys

Taking a rest from their usual style, 1940s serial-orientated games, Cinemaware have once again turned to the US TV sports channels to bring us a second sports sim, TV Sports Basketball.

Following in the same veins as their previous sports release, TV Sports Football, the game places you as a player or manager (or even both) in an American basketball league. You can either opt to play as an established US league team complete with its own set of players, or perhaps design your own team from scratch.

Those not wishing to take up any exercise - be it computerised or otherwise - can just watch their team carry out the set tactics and shuffle the figures around depending on the results.

If you feel left out of the action you can always jump in and start controlling the team directly, if, on the other hand, you feel like putting yourself in the shoes of a single player and following him through his career then you can select the 'role playing' section.

The pattern of play in the league follows very closely the pattern of the actual American basketball league, the top teams from each division qualifying for the play-offs, which may even lead to playing in the World Series - but only if you're good enough!

GRAPHICS AND SOUND

As you would expect, Cinemaware have done the business in the presentation department. The intro screens are humourous, the animation is superb and the music is atmospheric. All the usual touches such as the wacky promoters and charismatic TV presenter have been included, as well as extra features like cleaner sweeping up pieces of broken backboard in the distance. The overall feel is very much in the American TV mould - even the programming credits read like the end credits of a TV show!

LASTING INTEREST

The wealth of options initially presented to the player makes it seem as though there is a good deal to keep you playing, but unless you have a large supply of friends to play against in the league or you prefer watching the computer plays the games for you then you'll soon wander off find something else to lavish your attention on.

The whole thing is rather like watching a cartoon of a game of basketball rather than actively taking part - the computer does far too much, which prevents the player from getting seriously involved. Only dedicated 'manager' fans will find the game enthralling enough to capture their attention for more than a few hours.

JUDGEMENT

The dividing line between an accurate simulation and a playable action game is often considered a narrow one. Unfortunately, Cinemaware's latest offering falls the wrong side of the line. TV Sports Basketball is packed with information to make it one of the most stunningly accurate sports simulations ever, but the actual game sections are severely lacking in gameplay. Stopping the opposite team storming past your players and scoring every time is virtually impossible - a task which isn't helped by the unruly and badly-implemented control system.

It's hard to believe that the team that brought us the superbly-presented and wonderfully playable TV Sports Football can have come up with a product that's enough to put people off the game of basketball for life.
Nice graphics, a myriad of setting and options and slick presentation are all very well, but look a little deeper and all that is left is nothing more than an expensive and frustrating basketball manager game.


TV Sports Basketball logo Amiga Joker Hit

Traurig aber wahr: Wirklich gute Sportspiele sind am Amiga bis heute immer noch die berühmte Ausnahme von der Regel. Aber wenn sich Cinemaware an das Thema wagt, ist der Erfolg fast schon vorprogrammiert!

Das Game beginnt, genau wie der schon fast legendäre Vorläufer "TV Sports Football", mit einem einfachen kleinen Auswahlmenü, nur dass diesmal ein Basketball als "Cursor" verwendet wird. Der Anfang wirkt noch relativ bescheiden, aber wehe der Sportfan taucht erst mal hinab in die Tiefen der Optionen, Modi und Auswahlmöglichkeiten!

Das sich bei einer Sportsimulation in puncto Spielablauf und Regeln nicht mehr viel verbessern läßt, muss man zwangsläufig das Drumherum aufpeppen - und da hat sich Cinemaware auch diesmal wieder einiges einfallen lassen. So kann man mit einem Adapter (wenn man einen hat) vier Joysticks anschließen, und die Länge der einzelnen Quarters lässt sich ebenso einstellen wie die Zahl der Spieler (von Two-On-Two bis zu fünf).

Der oder die Spieler können aus 28 aufgelisteten Mannschaften wählen und sie nach eigenen Wünschen verändern: Sowohl die Namen von Mannschaft und Spielern, als auch die Eigenschaften der einzelnen Cracks können bis ins Detail editiert werden (es gibt sechs verschiedene Werte, auf die man eine gewisse Anzahl von unkten verteilen kann - schon fast wie bei einem Rollespiel!).

Weiter darf man aussuchen, ob der Computer im Spiel das Passen Übernimmt - wenn nicht, besteht die Möglichkeit, sich anzeige zu lassen, ob die beabsichtigte Ballabgabe sinnvoll oder zu gefährlich ist. Es gibt eine Zeitlupenfunktion, unzählige (ausdruckbare) Statistiken und, und, und.

Falls jetzt jemand den Eindruck haben sollte, das wäre alles viel zu kompliziert für ihn - so schlimm ist es auch wieder nicht! Man kann auch einfach ein nettes kleines Show-Match mit Freunden machen, ohne all die Feinheiten und Möglichkeiten auszunützen. Der Liga-Modus mit seinen ganzen Statistiken ist ohnehin mehr etwas für die ganz eingefleischten Fans! Wie man sich auch entscheidet, die gelungene Steuerung während einer Begegnung garantiert in jedem Fall eine spannende Partie.

Die Präsentation ist eine wahre Freude fürs Auge: Das Game ist wie eine amerikanische Fernsehshow aufgebaut, mit Moderator, Werbung und allem drum und dran. Auch ist die Grafik rundum "amigawürdig", was ja gerade bei Sportspielen sonst eher eine Seltenheit ist. Der Sound ist selbst mit 512K schon sehr gut (der anfängliche Kameraschwenk durchs Stadion wird von aufpeitschender Musik begleitet), mit 1 MB kommt man in den Genuss von noch bessern FX.

Im Handbuch werden dem Anfänger die Grundlagen des Basketballsports erklärt, ansonsten ist es vollgepackt mit Infos zu den Menüs, Optionen, Statistiken und was man sonst noch über das Spiel wissen sollte.

Lobenswerterweise ist das Ganze auch noch in deutsch und mit Bildern illustriert. Nach soviel Lob darf natürlich die Detailkritik nicht fehlen: Cinemaware hat wie üblich auf Scrolling verzichtet, das Spielfeld besteht nur aus drei Screens, die ständig umgeschaltet werden (eigentlich sind es sogar nur zweieinhalb, denn eigener und gegnerischer Korb unterscheiden sich nur minimal!). Steuern kann man ausschließlich mit dem Joystick, und die Menüführung hätte etwas besser sein können. Die leidige Diskettenwechselei ist ebenfalls wieder angesagt, wenn auch diesmal in entschärfter Form.

Aber ansonsten gibt's wirklich nichts zu meckern, denn die Programmierer in ihr Baby gepackt haben, ist schon beeindruckend: Sogar verschiedene Fouls sind möglich! Und natürlich werden Regelverstöße im allgemeinen umgehend vom Schiri geahndet. Wie man es auch dreht und wendet: Mit TV Sports Basketball hat Cinemaware einen neuen Meilenstein für Sportspiele am Computer geschaffen! Hoffentlich kommt die amerikanische Company nicht eines Tages in Teufels Küche - wenn es darum geht, die selbst gesetzten Maßstäbe noch zu übertrumpfen... (mm)


TV Sports Basketball logo CU Screen Star

Cinemaware
Price: £29.95

Basketball is big - almost as big as Oliver North - in the land of apple pie. Many reserved Britons fail to see the attraction of a dozen men, each in excess of six foot in height, bouncing balls through nets and squeaking their Adidas trainers, but that is their loss. The rules are quite simple. Five players, no physical contact, no holding the ball for more than three seconds and all on a court no bigger than a hundred feet long.

Naturally, Cinemaware's adaptation is up to their usual, highly polished standard, and it owes more than a little to TV Sports Football. The intro sequence features a panning camera shot showing the crowded arena, followed by a message from the program's sponsors, then the ever-smiling front man, prattles on about the features of the match and its grand finale.

Next off it is time to arrange your team. Pick five players, tell them who they have got to mark and then you are away. The action starts with a tip off, in which the referee throws the ball into the air while the players try to gain possession. From there onwards the game is divided into four sections: defense, attack, midfield and the subs bench. In the defence section you have to try to pick off the passes of the opposing teams in addition to blocking their shots.

Intercepting a pass gives your team automatic possession and the chance to catch your opponents' defence off guard.

Once you have made it out of your goal area and into the midfield, rather than control players, you set up the next play. By moving the joystick you tell a player to try and break away from his marker so he becomes free to receive a pass.

Once in scoring distance it is a matter of trying to get closer for a more accurate shot, or shooting from a distance and scoring a higher - either way it is all over in the stab of the fire button. Unless the player in possession is really accurate it pays to try and get in close. Getting really close to the basket allows you to attempt a slam dunk. This involves the player physically placing the ball in the basket. It will not give you extra points, but it does look good all the same.

Sadly TV Sports Basketball lacks interaction, there is less to do than in TV Sports Football. Although the action is fast, a lot of the time you end up getting left behind. Do not let that put you off though, this game has a lot to offer and it is good fun to play.
Definitely the best of the few basketball sims available.


TV Sports Basketball logo

Cinemaware/Mirrorsoft, Amiga £29.99

From humble beginnings basketball has developed into a modern sport with highly paid professionals playing in America's NBA Championship. Cinemaware, however, have their own league: the CWBA, with 28 teams (any of which can be human or computer controlled) competing in four divisions. Teams may be edited to change players' abilities and names.

In exhibition (friendly) matches, up to four players can compete (using a special joystick adapter available from Microdeal), either on the same side or two against two. There are also options for the number of players in a team (2-5) and the length of the quarters (3-12 minutes - real-time).

All games start with the 'tip off'. Two players stand either side of the ref as he throws up the ball, and jump up in an attempt to knock it towards another player on their side. The substitution screen then appears, allowing you to replace tired players with fresh men off the bench (substitution is unlimited) as well as changing their positions and choosing which opposing players they mark. This screen can be called up during play by taking a time out.

There are two ways of playing for your chosen team: you can either switch between the players at will, or play the role of just one chosen player.

The player in possession dribbles automatically. Passing is achieved by pressing fire; the ball is aimed towards the nearest player in the relevant direction. To aid passing, the most open player is indicated by a circle, the colour of which indicates the risk of the ball being stolen by the opposition.

Hold down the fire button and the player jumps up, shooting at the basket when fire is released - shoot at the top of the jump for the optimum chance of scoring. Shots can be blocked by jumping opposing players. But with both offence and defence, care must be taken no to make illegal contact with an opponent. As well as giving away free throws, the offending player could be eliminated from the game if he commits too many fouls.

Direct control of players is only possible at the two ends of the court. When players are crossing mid-court the play-calling screen appears, allowing the offensive team to select a player to try to get open in the subsequent attack. Simultaneously, the defensive team can choose an opposing player to guard more closely.


Phil King I was slightly doubtful whether the end-to-end sport of basketball would suit Cinemaware's more strategic sports sim style. But although the action is somewhat slow paced, this is a very faithful conversion of the sport. The short game is fun, but it's only in full-length matches that the strong strategic aspects of marking and substitution truly come into effect. The prospect of playing at least 24 league games may seem daunting but, with detailed player statistics and a variety of computer teams (with different styles of play), there's tremendous long-term interest for any serious sports sim addict.
Scorelord Cinemaware's presentation is as ever excellent with good pre/post match sequences and disk access occurring only for half-time statistics. In-game graphics are attractive, but the characters are big and it's hard to judge their exact position in relation to other players - this is irritating as the slightest defensive error soon results in a goal. This leaves tactics, which are vitally important - changing who marks who can have a critical effect on the game. In full-length games fatigue and substitutions add extra depth, but it's a long time to be playing. What's more all League matches have to be full length - which could deter the less committed player.
Fans of basketball, and the TV Sports style will undoubtedly welcome this release, but the lack of broad appeal makes it a bit pricey for beings less wealthy than myself.