Genre: Sports Developer: Sculptured Software Publisher: Tecmo Players: 1-2 Year: 1993
Tecmo NBA Basketball was a great game to have late in the NES’ lifespan in late 1992. Not too long after, Tecmo brought it to the SNES in early ‘93 and then to the Genesis late that year under the name, Super NBA Basketball. Other than the graphics and audio, the game plays the same with the same mechanics and features. Outside of a few issues, it is one of those pre-NBA Live titles to get a hold of.
One of the things I love about Tecmo Super NBA is that it offered many ways to play a sports game. Super NBA retains that stuff from its 8-bit releases and gives you a unique experience. There is the pre-season, season, and all-star game, but you pick the choice on how you play. You want to coach? Go right ahead. Pick your game plan and hope you don’t lose players to fouls. I can play as any team I want, especially in the season mode, or I can watch any game where the teams duke it out against each other. For the 16-bit era, no one other than Sega attempted Tecmo’s approach (NFL ‘93 and ‘94, though with some limits compared to Super NBA).
All things considered, there are 27 NBA teams, each comprising of 12 players for each team based on the 1992-93 season. With deadlines on sports games, some players could not be swapped out for others, so you’ll see a few like the late Reggie Lewis and Michael Jordan without their names and a generic 99 jersey number. They don’t have every guy that was in the league at the time, like the rookies of the 1993-94 season, but the ones that are in it vary in regards to how they perform, ranging from how good they can steal the ball to the range in their shot-making.
Graphically, the game looks fine. The cut scene ones are great and the crowds are decent. The players are represented well, and their animations are decent compared to the early EA Sports games. Team data images are a nice touch and the court looks good enough. The music may not have that basketball vibe, but it does have that sense of energy to get out and go for that win. Sound effects are minimal, and most of the time you’re hearing the crowd and the dribbling of the ball. Voices are minimal as well, but they sound a little clearer compared to other Genesis games.
As far as the controls go, they are easy to grasp. Offensively, you pass to other players that have an arrow indicator on them or shoot the ball. Defensively, you can switch players closest to the ball on the fly with the same arrow indicator. You can also attempt to block, which works very well, and steal the ball. Intentional fouling can be used at any time given certain circumstances. The game follows the rules of the NBA well. There are the various clock violations, and fouling, free throw attempts, and even goal tending making the list. Players get tired, and they provide substitution before the next possession begins. It’s realistic but with a bit more playability compared to the early EA Sports games.
The season mode is brilliant for a 16-bit game. As mentioned, you can play as many ways as you want at your discretion. You can play an 82-game season, which follows the actual 1993-94 NBA season, or have a shortened season. You can even choose to skip the season and head for the playoffs without playing a regular season game. That being said, injuries can occur in this mode. They are similar to Tecmo Super Bowl in that it only takes a few games to heal. There is a leaders section, but it’s not too in depth compared to Super Bowl.
In regards to the options, there’s not much. Instant replay is in when doing substitutions. There is a speed selection. Difficulty can be picked in the pre-season mode, though the impression I get is that it’s cranked to the hardest on regular season even if you have it on easy or medium. Music can be turned on and off. The amount of time per quarter can be adjusted with a handful of minute selections. Team data allows you to pick your starters and choose the kind of strategies that fits a team in the playbook section. Sculptured Software really gave an effort for Tecmo’s offering for the Genesis.
There aren’t too many complaints I have regarding Tecmo Super NBA. I like that there are player animations, but it is a little hard to know if someone is going to foul or when a ball gets stolen. It feels very sudden, and at times you give the ball back to your opponent. Slowdown is present, but it doesn’t ruin it and it usually happens when a bunch of a players are together; it’s not a deal breaker. Other than a few regular season things, that’s about it. You’re getting a good package.
A game shouldn’t take long if you are on the lowest number of minutes per quarter. Look to 10 minutes to possibly an hour of playing a game. Definitely check out Tecmo Super NBA Basketball. It’s not too common, but shouldn’t burn a hole in your wallet compared to other Tecmo games. It’s the kind of pre-NBA Live game that showed basketball can move at a decent pace without having any issues. A game to have among the plethora of Genesis B-ball games.
Score: 7 out of 10