If it’s not bad enough that EA cranks out largely pointless yearly updates to their standard sports franchises, they’ve now got us on the consumer hamster wheel of buying yearly updates to secondary sports franchises – that were largely derivative to begin with. If you can play any installment of NBA Street and not feel the ties to 90’s b-ball front-runner NBA Jam, you’re a stronger person than I.
V3 adds a little pinch of this and a little sprinkle of that but, on the whole, it still feels pretty half-baked. The visuals move well, even if the backgrounds aren’t in any way awe-inspiring. Special jukes, fancy dribbling, and nifty dunks can be interlinked to score combo points and build up to a Gamebreaker special – the equivalent of being ?On Fire’ in Midway’s seminal roundball series of yester-decade. If you liked the last game (Vol. 2), then you’ll probably like this one. If not, then move along.
There is a decent selection of authentic players from an array of real NBA teams. The guys you like, and loathe, the most can likely all be found here. Five from each team are available, and any three can play in a given game.
From there, it’s pass-shoot-steal-rebound without such nuisances as penalties and rules. The turbo meter gets you around the court quicker, enables bigger jumps and loftier dunks, and can also give a ball-hog a bit of a nudge to loose that sought-after orange sphere.
The generic staples of gameplay modes are here, including things akin to career mode, quick game, dunk contest, character creation, and custom teams. After extensive menu searching, there appears to be no way to remap buttons or adjust any presentation options. There were, however, tons of little things like a court builder, V3 store, custom shoes, special moves, dunks, etc. to be purchased with combo points. It’s just not terribly exciting. Even the character creator only lets you create black male or female players. So you can be a woman, but you can’t be white or Hispanic or Asian? Are there really no non-black ballplayers left? It’s a little confusing as to why race selection was so obviously omitted, especially since a walk past any playground or park will reveal every color and creed fighting passionately over possession of that little rubber ball. Race exclusivity along with the strictly hip-hop soundtrack may lead to a degree of alienation for some people.
You can also scratch the idea of online play for the GameCube – now and forever. Its inclusion might certainly have added something to this game, or any sports game for that matter. To compensate, Nintendo threw in Mario, Luigi, and Princess Peach as a team unto themselves. They’re not any better or worse than the other teams, though they do sport Mario-specific sound effects whenever something happens on court. It’s also kind of adorable to watch them run around the court with real NBA players twice or three times their size. However, this addition brings to light the simple fact that Nintendo should just do sports games featuring their catalog of bankable franchise characters. It worked like a charm in Super Smash Bros. and Super Mario Kart. Watching Link, Samus, Kid Icarus, and Mario hopped up on Fire Flowers throwing down in streetball would be a trip. Not here, though. When a game makes you think only of how much cooler it could be with a different vision, the work at hand begins to whither considerably.
After a couple of games in NBA Street V3, you may well be ready to hit the showers. Unless you’re hardcore about basketball, it’s hard to imagine that you’ll feel much different. In conclusion, if you are a dedicated baller, V3 might keep you company through the cold winter months when street play is hard to come by (at least north of the Mason-Dixon Line), but not for much longer than that.