Approximate Release Month: March 1993
Genre: Basketball simulation
Tecmo Super NBA Basketball has what every other basketball game before and since is missing: cutscenes.
And for good reason! It breaks up the flow of the game when Tecmo Super NBA Basketball cuts to cartoons in the middle of the action. It doesn’t happen a lot – tip-off and stolen balls and stuff like that – but it can be disorienting to pass the ball and have a scene play out for a few ticks before you realize you botched the throw.
Another issue is how every player looks the same, more or less. Of course, I’m not expecting much given the hardware, but when every player is bunched up on the court it’s very easy to lose yourself in the scrum. It’s probably for the best that Tecmo Super NBA Basketball didn’t push the Super Nintendo too hard in the graphical side of things, but a little more than what’s here would have been appreciated.
Those are minor annoyances in an otherwise acceptable basketball game. The shooting feels right (though I haven’t yet made a basket from the charity stripe yet, and I don’t know if I’m doing something wrong) and the game runs smooth and lag-free. Defense is difficult like in every other SNES basketball game, but Tecmo Super NBA Basketball‘s CPU-controlled players handle that side of the ball well enough.
The most striking part of this game is how it feels modern in some respects. The season mode, in particular, is full-featured, letting you pick any teams you want – or none at all! – and simulate weeks, months, or even seasons. The NBA license and having the rights to players not named Michael Jordan is also a then-rare feature.
Tecmo Super NBA Basketball isn’t going to wow anyone. It’s totally competent yet not spectacular. Still, it’s finally a basketball game on the SNES that isn’t garbage and at the time I imagine it had to have felt really special.