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Platform

PSP

 

Genre

Sports

 

Publisher

SCEA

 

Developer

SCE Studio San Diego

 

ESRB

E (Everyon)

 

Released

October 6, 2009

 

 

- Tried and true Basketball mechanics
- Plentiful, fun mini-games

 

 

- Stuttering framerate ruins slick visuals
- Small screen obscures action
- Finicky passing/switching system

 

 

Review: NBA 09 The Inside (PSP)

Review: NCAA Basketball 10 (360)

Review: EA Playground (Wii)

 

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NBA 10: The Inside

Score: 6.5 / 10

 

nba 10 the inside          nba 10 the inside

 

You’d think developers would have sports games down to a science by now. Every year sees a new release (or two…or three…) of sports titles, from Baseball to Football, with the occasional Hockey and Soccer thrown in, available on all major consoles, handhelds, and I-phones. In a market filled with hundreds of titles of every known sporting genre, not to mention a good ten or twenty television

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channels (more than half ESPN), it’s commendable how such a bloated medium continues to thrive in both popularity and sales charts. Not to mention a little frightening.

 

The latest portable effort in the world of Basketball games is NBA Live 10 The Inside, by SCE’s San Diego studio. There’s no explanation of what “the inside” entails, or whether it’s a place worth venturing into, but the gist of the

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game is what you would usually expect: You and your team of soulless AI caricatures of soulless real-life players must compete against opposing team for the amusement of cardboard audience cut-outs. There’s a variety of teams to choose from featuring the current NBA line-up, which means no playable Michael Jordan even though he’s the only Basketball star that ever mattered. The usual rules and regulations of the NBA are intact, along with the standard control scheme of cycling between team members with the push of a button on defense, or with the passing of the ball on offense.

 

Switching around teammates brings up the game’s first notable flaw: the PSP screen, while much wider than its Nintendolian rival, is still too small to make sense of the tightly centered action going on, and the game is awfully hokey about who you’re passing the ball to and who actually receives it. The problem also extends to the control setup, where there are separate buttons for passing, tossing the ball, bobbing and weaving while on defense, with the function of the buttons completely changed around when attempting to block the opposing team from making their shots. A helpful feature when making those long distance shots is a glowing halo around both the player and the ball to determine whether an attempted shot has…a shot…at making the net. A green color indicates an absolute guarantee that you’ll score nothing but net, while a red color spells out your futility before the ball leaves your hands. The only problem with this stoplight-style indicator is that by the time the corresponding color flashes, it’ll be too late to prevent your fumbled shot.

 

If a campaign tour and customized matches were all NBA 10 had going for it, then skipping it would be the preferred option. However, the real highlight of this title are the included mini-games; fast-paced and wholly addictive, the mini-games are the real stars of this portable package, featuring a surprisingly robust variety of basketball-themed challenges along with vaguely ball-related games, from pinball (played on an actual pinball machine) to bowling (which has you holding the PSP sideways). Other fun additions include dodgeball (complete with slow-motion Matrix dodging) skeeball, and even a puzzle stacking game similar to Bust A Move, not to mention several other arcade-style games that can be played solo or with local multiplayer. It’s an entertaining assortment of tried-and-true classics that make you forget that you were playing yet another Basketball game, or at least it would if the balls in each mini-game didn’t feature team logos.

 

nba 10 the inside          nba 10 the inside

 

As far as visuals go, NBA 10’s graphics are adequate enough, or at least they would be if not for a consistently spotty framerate; for every action taken, from passing the ball or making a shot, the game will instantly chug for a brief moment. Combine this with each match and you have an inconsistent framerate that really hampers an otherwise pretty PSP game. Real-time announcers provide the usual annoying commentary, for better or worse, while any music whatsoever is, ironically enough, only available during the mini-games.

 

If portable Basketball on the go is what you’re looking for, you could do worse than The Inside. But the real inside scoop is the fun time-wasting mini-games, which depending on whom you ask, either compliment an otherwise generic sports package, or eclipses it. Regardless, if you happen to be a fan of either style of game, this combo pack is worth a look at a budget price.

 

- Jorge Fernandez

(March 5, 2010)

 

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