Review by ThoughtFool1
Reviewed: 12/03/12 | Updated: 12/20/12
A Layup Rather than a Slam Dunk
All-Pro Basketball is a 1989 Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) 5-on-5 basketball game. The game looks amazing with the beautiful cinematics on massive dunks really standing out. It also ends up being great fun to play and suffers from no slowdown and not too much flickering even with the 10 players on the court. All-Pro Basketball supports 1-2 players, with 2 players having the ability to either go head-to-head or play cooperatively together against the computer. However, the gameplay is not very intuitive and it takes a bit to pick up and get used to. It should also be noted that the game does not have NBA licensing.
> Graphics = (a slam dunk) 9/10
The game really looks great. All of the players look good and you can even tell height differences between the different players. However, your eyes will pop out of your head when you see the amazing dunk sequence cinematic (which looks even better than the ones in Double Dribble). The only slip up in the game's look comes with the player's standard running animation. The designers only created one running animation so every player on the court runs with one of their hands dribbling an invisible ball. Overall however, the game was the best looking basketball game released at that time.
> Music / Sounds = (bench warming) 5/10
The music of the game isn't bad, it sounds exactly like generic sports game music, but is fun and obviously fits the game. However, there is only one song that plays during the games and it gets a bit repetitive after a while. The sounds effects are where the game really takes a hit though. The main factor here is the fact that the game makes an annoying beeping /chirping sound everytime you switch players on defense or switch passing targets on offense. It ends up getting really annoying eventually since this actually happens frequently (sometimes your passing targets switch a couple times in just a few seconds) and everytime that loud, annoying beeping / chirping noise lets you know. At the end of the day, the music and sound effects work...but get annoying the more you play.
> Gameplay = (not intuitive / flawed, but decent once you get used to it) 6/10
When you first pop in this game...expect to lose. This is a game is not beginner friendly and certainly requires a bit of getting used to. The first thing that requires getting used to is the game designer's decision to use a vertical style of court rather than the standard horizontal style. However, instead of just having the player run up and down the court (away from and towards the screen), the game designers (a company called Aicom) decided to do a screen switch / reversal every time the player with the ball crosses the half-court line. This not only disorients the player reversing the direction needed to run and totally changing their court vision...but even when the player does get used to the court switch it still serves to break up the game flow. Nothing really takes the excitement away from a quick fast break like a pause...black screen...then a totally new screen showing a different side of the court. This really takes a bit to get used to as the direction the player needs to move and their court vision totally change everytime this happens.
Another issue is the camera, the game's view only shows anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 of the court usually (depending on the player's position). This is a problem when you are going back on defense since your player will usually be running around off-screen. It also causes issues on offense where you oftentimes won't be able to see the player you may want to pass to. Compounding the issues with passing is the fact that the D-pad switches your passing targets...at the same time it moves your player. On top of these technical issues it should also be noted that there are no difficulty settings and the default AI will frustrate newer players with their constant steals and punishment of player mistakes.
Outside of those problems (which do seem to be a lot...but not so much as to ruin the game), All-Pro Basketball actually ends up being pretty enjoyable. The ability to play 5-on-5 with or against a player is great, and, even though it doesn't have any licensing, for a game to have 8 playable teams all with different overall playstyles (not just jersey colors) is great. After you get used to the somewhat clunky vertical court, playing the game comes a lot more naturally. It features real basketball rules such as fouling, travelling, back passing, and you can even substitute your players in and out of the game. It has a great league mode where you play a 35 game season (5 games against each team) and even has a sports reporter relaying news inbetween games. Overall, there are some issues with the gameplay that should be noted, but the game still comes out as being a fun, well-made basketball game for its day.
Replay Value - Moderately High
With 8 different teams to play as and the ability to play with or against a friend this game gives you a couple reasons to come back.
> Reviewer Opinion = (surprisingly fun) 6/10
I'm generally not a huge fan of sports games, but I was surprised by this one. After losing horribly my first game (I lost by 40-50 points), I started to get the hang of it and quickly found myself having fun. There are certainly some major and minor flaws with this game, but a lot of them can be overlooked or adapted to and, at the end of the day, the game ends up being pretty entertaining. If you love sports games, especially basketball ones, I'd definitely recommend this game. I'd say it is worth a try for most people as long as they are willing to sit down and take some time to get used to it.
===> Overall Impression = (not bad) 6/10
There are obviously some issues with the game...the camera, vertical court, and passing most notably. With those problems, the game is not something most people can pick up and play straight away (or at least play enjoyably). However, after getting used to it, the game ends up being fun, it looks unbelievably great, and features great multiplayer possibilities!
Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Product Release: All-Pro Basketball (US, 12/31/89)
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