Review / Test:
I played quite a fair number of basketball games in my life, but I don't remember playing any as bad as NBA Courtside 2002. I played quite many on 16 bit, so my memory is maybe not that good anymore; yet, I can't figure a single basket game which left me such a disagreeable impression of failure. I owned the first NBA Courtside on Nintendo 64, it was a fine game, nothing terrific, nothing you regret to have bought either; the gap with the GameCube version though seems awful. Sure enough, the game's graphics have been improved and, although I don't think the faces are so great as it was commonly said at the release, I admit it's all good enough. Actually, what I probably like the best about this game is the visuals of the menus, the mechanic style, and I have to insist on visuals because I hate the menus otherwise.
Maybe faces of the players were praised because they are indeed quite good but also because the rest is not so. The crowd, some digitalized people, is weird; animated very choppily, probably for the sake of the frame rate, it doesn't look really nice, and the same guys are always repeated. Waiting substitute players are well done, realistic, maybe more than players on the court. The problem with them is that they look quite stiff. The hands are disastrous, like some stuffed apes hands, fingers widely opened. Their gesture are not so natural either. During a game, it's ok, dribbling and dunking is realistic enough though you can hardly make your player walks, he tends to run even when you hardly push the stick. Compared to NBA Courtside on Nintendo 64, I don't think the animation is much better. Some animations feel awkward (motions), some are good (free-throw) and some feel absent (cheers). It's a mix bag. We'll notice also that graphics tend to be a bit fuzzy.
That's not the major complain though, if you want to hear about that one, let's talk more about the menus. Menus are very important in basketball games, you trade, you check your stats, the rosters, etc. Personally, I'm fond of all those stats things so I spend quite much time there. On Nintendo 64, I remember it wasn't a great aspect of NBA Courtside either, but it wasn't so lame ! It's so badly organized in this GameCube version. It looks more messy than some amateur web sites, you don't know which button to press, you can't find what you're looking for, and once you finally found it, the presentation is so unfriendly and unclear, that you don't feel like checking further. It just looks like they threw all the stats and numbers they had without putting them tidily. Sure the mechanical menus are nice looking, the mess inside them make it totally insignificant though. Trading never been so annoying, it doesn't save the default position of the cursor so you always get confused and lost. The season stats are put in a very unpleasant presentation as well.
Another shocking revelation with this game is about the gameplay. Once again, I've never seen something like that, never seen a basketball game where it is so hard to score. I don't use the best players, but come on, if they can't score anything, they shouldn't be in the NBA. The ball kept missing the basket so many times. I made a player with the maximum in 3-points ability, 99, some other excellent features, and the results on the court were far from impressive. I played in easy mode with one created player and some good players, my percentage of missed shots was unbelievably high. Never been so high in any basket game that I played. To score well, it seems it's necessary to use the adrenaline gauge, with L, to improve your abilities. Stealing is not working any better, it provokes a foul or the ball goes out of bound or is kicked, only steals performed by the computers seem to work or stealing by accident. Some players are also too slow to react when you control them, their jump for blocking feels like some slow motion.
Computer players behave rather realistically. Sometimes though, they turn a bit crazy and do strange things like many consecutive fouls or going out of bonds. It seems it's just here to say: "see, you're in easy mode". The Arcade mode, which would better be called the NBA Jam mode, puts you on the roof of a building (bad graphics) and play 3-on-3 matches with extra rules and powers like mega-jump dunks. Among the new rules, you can make some 6-points shots and other high score shots by standing on "hot spots" which appear here and there on the court. It's funny for a while, but does not add much to the central game. There's also a Skill mode, with a practise session, nice but shallow, and a 3-points contest, which feels even more shallow and boring. Basketball has a limited interest when you're not a hardcore fan.
Last but not least, is the sound. Aah, the sound ! Probably the horror you'll notice first. It starts with the awful introduction rap *puke* why the hell do they think they have to stick that crap of rap with basket games ? Fortunately, it's not too difficult to stop it: Z > Preferences > A > Music > right > 0 . Pfff, done. It's the only "music" of the game anyway if you don't count organs cheers. The real problem with the sound comes from the comments. There are 2 commentators, who are fine, with quite much text, even for a specific player, and some bad jokes. But, in addition, there's a third commentator, the local one, whose voice is heard in the stadium. And my, this guy is a disaster, the way he calls the names is absolutely, totally, ridiculous. Whether he says them slowly on a monotonous tone for the opposite team, whether he says them on a falsely happy tone for the home team, it all sounds terrible, unconvincing and grotesque. His voice is tasteless, and he lacks intonation. Try to say: "Keeeviiin Gaaarneeett", slowly and without any feeling in your voice, you'll have an idea how he sounds.
Sport games have reached high quality standards throughout the years and on the new consoles they top in the realistic category. These games are mostly improvements over the past versions and so it's easy for the makers, who don't have to restart from scratch, to work on these titles. NBA Courtside 2002 doesn't feel like an achievement in its genre, maybe because the general quality of basketball games on 128 bit is very high, maybe because it's simply not a great game. Despite many modes, it feels incomplete like on Nintendo 64, and also not polished in many aspects. Some strong shortcomings make the game sometimes very irritating to play. Lack of innovations and real style definitely make of NBA Courtside 2002 a game to be quickly forgotten. Left Field quit Nintendo with what seems to be their less interesting and motivated work.
Samurai Nintendo thinks this game is suitable for everyone (kids over 7, teens and adults)