Approximate Release Date: December 31, 1992
Genre: Basketball simulation
Developer: Beam Software
NBA All-Star Challenge isn’t a traditional or fully featured basketball game.
There is no standard team-versus-team mode. There are five game modes – One on One, Free Throws, 3 Point Shootout, Horse, and One on One Tournament – and none of them have more than two players on the court at a time. Because of that, NBA All-Star Challenge looks good. The court has an impressive reflection effect going on, and the players are large and reasonably detailed. Nothing about how the game looks will knock your socks off, but it’s more than adequate considering only a third of the court is ever shown on screen.
Instead of the standard press and release for shooting, NBA All-Star Challenge is press and press again. I’ve never played a basketball game like this, and I vastly prefer the other style. And the timing window is so tight on a successful shot that it never seemed like I had much agency in whether the ball went in or not. It felt inconsistent.
The other side of the ball is even worse. You can swipe at the ball or jump. Both are too finicky about timing, just like the shooting. I earned more fouls than successful blocks or steals. I get that you don’t want defense to be overpowering, but it shouldn’t be so difficult that players give up on it completely.
One on One Tournament should be the main mode of NBA All-Star Challenge. That is the career or season mode equivalent, the mode where you pick a player and stick with him through multiple games until you emerge victorious. That should be how it works, right?
Nope. Instead, you pick four players to play as in the first round and play four games. In the second round, you pick two players and play two games. In the third and final round, you pick one player to play as. This doesn’t reward players for winning their games. The only difference between winning and losing is your player gets to advance. If all four of your players win, you have to choose between two of them. I don’t understand why it’s like this because it immediately kneecaps what should be the most interesting mode.
NBA All-Star Challenge lacks depth, like a basketball-themed minigame collection. I can’t actually imagine paying full price for a game that consists of modes that would be better placed hidden deep in the menu of a more comprehensive basketball game.
Tomorrow: We’ve finally gotten a hockey game for the Super Nintendo! NHLPA Hockey ’93 is tomorrow.