Undoubtedly hoping to re-ignite the passions of old-school fans of NBA Jam, RoboDunk just can’t quite hit the mark
When I was in college in the early 90s when it came to local competitive multiplayer gaming at its best there was nothing quite like NBA Jam. Even on the SNES the degree of fun to be had playing with and against friends was unmatched. What has always seemed really odd to me is that nothing since that time has really managed to recapture the infectious spirit and fun of that title, and you’d think there would be far more people trying. RoboDunk absolutely has some roots in that basic game design, though with robots, and replacing loads of personality with a pretty elaborate system of meta upgrades you’ll be able to unlock for use as you acquire new bots for your team and try to make them as formidable as possible. The problem is, it kind of falls flat. I’d say that both offense and defense simply take some getting used to, at least to really make the most of what your players can do between power-ups and their signature weapons. I like that there’s more to defense than shoving, and that on offense you can at least try to pull off the classic alley-oop, but something about it doesn’t quite work. One issue is that visually it can be hard to determine the depth of the ball and players at times, so effectively making a steal or just grabbing the ball can be trickier than it should be. Another is that the shooting system, though novel, is just a bit odd since to get more power and score more points you’ll need to charge up, which also makes you vulnerable. The biggest problem though, and the most obvious thing missing from the formula, is the lack of even an attempt at pizzazz and excitement. Even with the limited audio recordings in NBA Jam they really elevated key moments, and smart elements like players getting a hot hand added a bit of strategy to the mix. In its place are weapons and attacks, but those simply aren’t very exciting, and the lack of anything boosting the energy level during games makes them quickly feel a bit too dull and repetitive.
Justin Nation, Score: