'NBA Courtside 2 Featuring Kobe Bryant'
By John Robinson
"NBA Courtside 2: Featuring Kobe Bryant" represents Nintendo's sophomore attempt at a pro basketball game. With new gameplay modes and better graphics than last year's offering, Courtside 2 scores a lot of points in its favor and only commits a few fouls along the way.
NBA Courtside 2 features a complete NBA license and special endorsement from Los Angeles Laker star Kobe Bryant. Bryant was motion captured for the game so you can be sure that his shooting and dunk animations are the real deal.
New for this year is a fast paced Arcade mode that is similar to NBA Showtime except that you have all five players on the court instead of just two. There are no rules and the players can do all kinds of crazy things like the sonic boom dunk, which causes all the players on the opposing team to fall down. There are also colored stars that pop up on the floor that allow you to score extra points if you hit a shot from that spot.
Other game modes include practice, exhibition, season, and the all important create-a-player mode. There is also a career mode that allows players to take a created player through the ranks. A three-point shootout mode is also available and is a good way to practice sinking those long shots without having to mess with playing a full game.
The controls in "NBA Courtside 2" are fairly smooth and are quite simple so the beginner can jump right in. The control scheme can be made more complex to allow the experienced player to have more control. Player movements are controlled by the analog stick and appropriately respond to the pressure you apply.
"NBA Courtside 2" sports some fairly crisp, medium-resolution graphics that make it a little easier to see the action on the floor. Curiously, the 4-megabyte expansion pack is not supported, which makes one wonder what the game would have looked like in a higher resolution. The camera angles are configurable with a total of nine cameras to choose from. You can also adjust the zoom level if you aren't happy with the default setting.
Player animations look smooth although they can sometimes be a little on the slow side. The animations mainly slow down when you are doing special moves or dunking but that really doesn't seem to affect gameplay too terribly much. The player's faces look better than ever and even include a small assortment of facial expressions. Overall, the player models look very good and are right on par with "NBA Live 2000" from EA Sports.
Up to four players can play simultaneously or you can play against the computer. Be warned though, the computer players are very good and you should expect to get blasted off the court the first time out. Even the rookie level computer players are very smart and will give you a good run for your money.
The Nintendo 64 has rarely been heralded for its superior sound and "NBA Courtside 2" doesnt do anything to change this reputation. Muddy sounding music and sound effects combined with uninspired play-by-play aren't too much to get exited about.
Given the fact there are a lot of choices this year for professional basketball games on the Nintendo 64, "NBA Courtside 2" does a good job of offering a fairly well-rounded title. It offers players a game that is easy to play but offers enough of a challenge to keep even serious fans of the sport happy. Additionally, the wacky arcade mode is a fun departure and ultimately it adds a lot of depth to a game that would have been just average without it.
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