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Sport: Action
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes

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Gwyn Hughes
Chris Bourne

Rachael says she's always in the mood for a bit of two-on-two, so I had to explain that this is four player basketball. You know, the game played by tall, athletic men with strange names like Dr Meadow-duck Raspberry, and short, weedy reviewers with hot Spectrums.

Last time Gamestar knocked us all for six with their Baseball simulation, and this could score even higher because the game is better known over here. So prepare to dribble (no, not down your chin, dummy) as Gwyn (Highballs) Hughes takes to the court.

If ever a game was suited to computerisation, this is it. The aim is nice and clear - get the ball into the basket - and there ain't so many men on court that you'll lose sight of the one you're controlling. Once again Gamestar have a potential winner.

There's no denying that they take amazing care with their games but it's a pity that there are still details which slip past their defences, such as a dodgy selection of keys - this is one for the joystick team.

They do give you all the options though, offering a single player game, where your partner is computer controlled, or two player versions as teammates, facing Spectrum opposition, or two sides of one human and a micro mate.

Almost ready to start, but not quite, because unless you're playing with a human, you need to tell your partner what strategy you want him to follow. This is rather like the formation picking that you find in American Football simulations, and gives you around seven seconds to choose front five attack patterns or four defensive.

Whatever your strategy, control couldn't be easier. Just use your joystick to steer and dodge as you weave past the opposition, then jab at fire to pass. Your partner receives the ball without it being intercepted and you run for the basket, then jab fire again and he throws it to you. Now hold fire longer so that you leap in the air, then release as you reach your zenith.., and you've scored!

a good thing that the game plays so fast, because you can't change the length of the quarters, which could be a bit off-putting if you're not a devotee of the sport. A twelve- minute game would have made for a much snappier affair.

There's also a lot of potential for clever sidestepping and leaping around to deflect shots from the basket, but it's rather spoilt by the Spectrum's attribute clash. Suddenly the player you thought was on your side changes colour as he steps out of the scrum!

As with Baseball, your attitude to Basketball is going to depend on how much you like to lob balls through hoops, and whether you can find a friend toy against. The one player game may prove to have a limited life, but for two players it could prove totally addictive.

Clever and close simulation of a sport which lends itself to computerisation, but limited by the long game.


Screenshot Text

As the players return from the basket, it's time to select the next play. There's nothing to indicate which one you've chosen, so that human opponents aren't able to prejudge your strategy, and you can carry on changing your mind to the last minute. The program also comes complete with a fine selection of fouls - Rachael reckoned these were her favourite parts of the game!