Review - White Men Can't Jump
Posted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 9:49 pm
Loosely based on the movie, and I mean loosely (theme, title, and … um? ) White Men Can’t Jump is a 2 on 2 half court basketball game that favors rough street style play over the real deal. Fouls, goal tends, and unrealistic dunks are all in ample supply. While it should have succeeded in providing a much needed boost to the Jaguar's small sports library, it really didn’t succeed. Now I certainly don’t agree with the many critics (and even a surprising number of Jaguar fans) who say that this is the consoles worst game (In my opinion, Fight for Life ends that argument quickly) but I will readily admit that the game isn’t very good. The best it can (lame pun alert ) shoot for, is average.
The game has many of options and gets an early plus for offering plenty of teams to pick. Better have a manual handy though if you want to know what the bars under the player’s names stand for …shot accuracy, energy, and speed for those who lack it (this info really should have been included) The courts, while not as numerous as the players, are truly different, and I appreciate the amount of visual variety. A tournament mode offers longevity that single games lack, and a versus mode is always welcome (this game supports 4 players, as it debuted the team tap) Things seem okay to start.
The graphics may have you whistling a different tune though. The appearance of the “Breakleg Brothers” (they move the lame story along, as you need to win money in matches to pay them back) sets the stage for disappointing visuals. Ignoring their cheesy clichéd appearance (ugly 80’s sports coat, smokes hanging from their mouths, dark shades, etc...) they have little animation, and the stand out like cardboard cutouts with pop-up book movements.
Once you actually start playing … I’m not quite sure how to describe it. The graphics are rather ugly, yet at the same time almost ambitious for a Jag game (if that makes any sense) Somewhat of a mixed bag, I’ve boiled my main issues down to 2 things.
1 - The graphics are simply much too dark (this is a trait I’ve notice in many Jag games, sadly) Seriously, It looks like the Shadows of Babylon 5 fame invaded this cartridge I found it was often difficult to even just find the ball in this game's drab appearance, and thought long and hard about adjusting the brightness on my television.
The game actually does have an interesting look with some good detail, large characters, solid colors, texture mapping, etc ... but it's so hard to appreciate what you can't see well! This very unfortunate darkness element is frankly much too severe to overlook, and any who’ve played this game can surely testify to this awful choice.
2 - The moving camera is a burdensome issue. While it tries to be helpful, it ends up moving too much. Its jerkiness made me lose orientation several times. Between this and the aforementioned darkness, I found myself developing a headache after a few matches.
On the audio end, I think I was a couple matches in before I actually even noticed the game’s music. I’m tempted to give props to the generic tunes, if only for not distracting me, but I think they were just drowned out in the sound effects and speech. Speaking of which, the speech is nice and clear and fits the game very well. I think it adds to the package myself, but if you play for a lengthy time you may find yourself getting a bit annoyed, as it does repeat.
Control is not what it needs to be for a sports game. The players move too slowly and passing is a chore. Rather than tapping the button, you need to hold it down. Not only does this slow the action, but it is counterintuitive as it bucks the trend of nearly every other basketball game, whether a simulation or arcade style. As a result, I often just stuck with one player, which isn’t nearly as much fun.
As long as I’m griping, I did not care for the dunks (although I’m guessing this was to be a selling point) For a game that seems to be trying to present a semi-realistic approach to street ball, the dunks from beyond the 3-point arc stood out in a poor way. I’d much rather play NBA Jam for the Jag!
This game is tough to play for extended sessions, and it also doesn’t prompt much in the way of repeated plays. So yes, WMCJ is a poor game … but it is playable, and far from the Jag’s worst in my honest opinion. If you are a fan of basketball (I am) and love multiplayer games (I do) than this game may offer a bit more to bump it closer to average. Just make sure to keep the Bayer nearby.