Switch Games That Arent Zelda NBA Playgrounds

first_img If you have a Nintendo Switch, chances are you also have The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The new Zelda is a massive, phenomenal game that you can and should play for dozens of hours. But eventually, you’re going to want to play something new on your Nintendo console/handheld hybrid. Switch Games That Aren’t Zelda is a new column highlighting cool, smaller Switch games to check out once you’ve saved Hyrule.I don’t care about sports at all. I had some fun playing soccer and tennis throughout school, but overall I find sports boring, stagnant, and overly complicated. And I straight up hate the vice grip sporting institutions have on culture.However, I do enjoy games, and if nothing else, sports are made up of some very interesting pure game mechanics. That’s why I enjoy sports video games that don’t care about being stodgy “realistic” simulations and instead take the ideas of sports in wacky, alternative directions. This puts me in the minority, though, since outside of the consistent Mario sports games the once omnipresent arcade sports genre is no longer on fire.That’s why I was so intrigued by NBA Playgrounds. If there were a bunch of other modern arcade sports games, as well as a bunch of other Nintendo Switch Games That Aren’t Zelda, NBA Playgrounds wouldn’t feel quite so special. But if things were different then they would be different. So here we are.While NBA Street fans may appreciate NBA Playgrounds’ outdoor, rule-free vibe, the game takes most of its framework from the legendary arcade basketball game NBA Jam, one of my personal favorite games of all time. You and a friend (or the AI) control big-headed cartoon caricatures of current and classic NBA players from any team in 2-on-2 games that reward spectacular dunks more than grounded technical play. On the Switch, using the two sideways Joy-Con makes multiplayer even more accessible. It’s also available on other consoles.But Playgrounds isn’t exactly NBA Jam, the original or the EA remake. The game has a casual progression system. As you keep playing as your favorite athletes, from LeBron James to George Mikan, they’ll gain experience and unlock new moves and animations. You also have an overall profile level that fills as you play matches and win tournaments. Leveling up grants you virtual foil card packs. Tear into them and unlock random new players. I’d be lying if I said the anticipation didn’t get to me every time. But while the game’s brash personality certainly evokes NBA Jam, the new commentators and their quips just can’t compare to Tim “Boom ShakaLaka” Kitzrow.On the court, the similarities and differences between Playgrounds and Jam become even clearer. For better or worse, Playgrounds is slightly more of a simulation. Timing when you press and release the button is crucial for landing shots, even dunks. It can be kind of brutal for newcomers (like my cousins), but practice quickly makes perfect. Rebounds are also tough to nail. The skill ceiling slows down the game’s pace somewhat.But again, 2K this is not. It doesn’t have a Spike Lee story mode. If anything, the game is potentially even crazier than Jam since the Lotto Pick system offers a wider variety of wacky, borderline broken powers. Fill the meter with flashy moves (while not depleting it with dirty shoves), and you can whip out skills like lightning balls that always hit their mark, special spots that double or triple points or a drastically decreased shot clock for your opponent. It’s the Mario Kart thing where the items are just fun enough to make up for the frustration that comes when they screw you over.The biggest knock against Playgrounds compared to Jam, though, is just that Playgrounds has a thin but noticeable layer of jank over the entire experience that the incredibly polished Jam incarnations do not. It’s issues like long load times or staggered online play rollouts, a bootleg theme song, weird rumble, or how much blurrier the game looks as a Switch handheld game (issues that also plagued fellow quick Unreal Engine 4 Switch port Snake Pass). It’s the general feel of the game. At $20, the game’s budget is never forgotten.Fortunately, the developers at Saber Interactive want to treat NBA Playgrounds like a platform and have pledged to offer free updates. New players, balance changes (stealing is overpowered), and other features are hopefully on the way.We’ve been playing a lot of NBA Playgrounds here in the office. The core arcade basketball gameplay is more than fun enough. And it’s not really fair to put the entire weight of the arcade sports genre on its shoulders at the moment. However, if there was more competition, I’d be less willing to forgive its shortcomings. It’s basketball. It’s on the Switch. It’s not Zelda.Review code provided by Saber InteractiveWant to learn more? 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