SNES A Day 25: Bill Laimbeer’s Combat Basketball

Bill_Laimbeer's_Combat_Basketball_US_box_art

Approximate Release Date: December 1, 1991
Genre: Basketball
Developer: Hudson Soft
Publisher: Hudson Soft

Bill Laimbeer’s Combat Basketball is more fun to laugh at and joke about than it is to play.

The game does a good job (hopefully on purpose) at crafting a fun, campy aesthetic for what amounts to basketball with tackling. Teams are given fun futuristic cornball names like Danger Dudes and Brothers Grim in the surprisingly in-depth League mode. You earn money for winning and you can buy or trade for better players for your team as you move up through the four divisions.

Too bad the game is a bore. The AI opponents are dumb. Once you get a feel for how to consistently score, the computer just can’t keep up. It’s easy to get into a rhythm of scoring, tackling the opposing ball handler the moment they get possession, and just going for the easy lay up over and over again. This is a very simple game.

Too simple.

Bill Laimbeer’s Combat Basketball is a one-button game. Passing, shooting, jumping, and tackling are all done by pressing the B button. You’ll pass when you mean to shoot and you’ll tackle when you mean to jump. It’s a bizarre control scheme that ignores the other five usable buttons for no discernable reason. And because there’s no button to manually change players on your team, the game just gives you control of the closest player to the ball even when it makes no sense to do so. It didn’t work in Super Bases Loaded and it definitely doesn’t work here.

There’s multiplayer, but Bill Laimbeer’s Combat Basketball is too easy to break to make any sort of competitive play fun. There’s such a great idea here, which makes this game all the more disappointing.

Tomorrow: Pitchers throw some heat in Super Baseball Simulator 1.000. Literally. The baseballs are on fire.

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