Approximate Release Date: December 1, 1992
Genre: Basketball simulation
Developer: Electronic Arts
Publisher: EA Sports
Despite the implications of the title, Bulls vs. Blazers and the NBA Playoffs isn’t playoff quality. It’s D-League level at best.
The most immediately puzzling thing about Bulls vs. Blazers is there are only 16 teams available. I get that the game is going for a post-season vibe and these were the most successful teams of the 1991-92 season, but it stinks if you’re a fan of the less successful teams. Part of the fun of playing sports games is taking your team and winning a championship, regardless of how good they are in real life. Making the choice to exclude teams like Philadelphia and Orlando seems like both a poor gameplay decision and a poor business decision. People in those cities buy video games too!
Luckily, those folks dodged a bullet. Bulls vs. Blazers is a bad basketball game. In stills it looks okay; the sprites are large, the background looks nice, and there’s even a rudimentary reflection effect going on with the court. But in motion, you see how few frames of animation there are with each player. It almost looks like everyone is skating instead of running. And there’s something about the size and/or the color of the basketball that makes it very easy to lose in a group of players.
The controls are also a problem. Everything is slow and feels like it’s underwater, probably partly because of the aforementioned issues with animation. It’s basically impossible to get around opposing players in Bulls vs. Blazers, but you can throw the ball through them for some weird reason. Several times the player I was controlling got stuck in an opposing player and was unable to move until he moved first or I passed the ball.
Over the course of a few games, I’ve found the shooting to be inconsistent. I’m not the greatest at basketball games, but I understand the basics, and either the shooting in Bulls vs. Blazers is different than every other basketball game I’ve played and the game is very bad at communicating that fact, or it’s just very precise in the timing it demands from the player. Neither is great, but both could be worked around.
Chances are you won’t work around it because this is a bad game. It’s not a good sign that I had more fun playing Bill Laimbeer’s Combat Basketball than Bulls vs. Blazers and the NBA Playoffs.
Tomorrow: Will Cal Ripken Jr. Baseball be a grand slam or a quick three-and-out?