Two new Ballers start for Midway

Phenom brings NBA hopefuls from street thug to NBA thug on Xbox, PS2; PSP's Rebound snags inspiration from original Ballers.


NBA Ballers: Phenom
NBA Ballers: Rebound

David Stern is not going to like the news out of Midway Games today. The commissioner of the National Basketball Association is effectively trying to "de-hip-hop" the world's most popular basketball league by instituting new rules. In addition to stiffer penalties and fines for misconduct on and off the court, Stern is cramping the style of NBA stars by attacking their fashion. Pros who linger on the sideline dressed in anything less than "business casual" and who sport do-rags or blingy chains are subject to league penalties. Even in-game shorts can now come down only to a certain length.

Well, Stern doesn't regulate Midway or its bling-fest known as the NBA Ballers franchise. The Chicago-based publisher today announced NBA Ballers: Phenom for the Xbox and PlayStation 2 and NBA Ballers: Rebound for the PSP. Phenom is on schedule for a spring 2006 release, and Rebound's release date is still up in the air.

Phenom sets the dream of every streetballer into motion--prove the skills on the court, then get the fame and fortune while making some heads look silly along the way. As a relative unknown on the streets of Los Angeles, gamers will elevate their game on- and offline against NBA pros in one-on-one and two-on-two blacktop basketball games. This year, Detroit Pistons guard Chauncey Billups takes the reins as cover athlete from New York Knicks guard Stephon Marbury.

With enough wins under their belts, ballers will attract the attention of NBA scouts, which is nice and all, but the real rewards come off the court. Gamers can turn their newfangled fortune into fly rides, pimp cribs, and dope threads. Players can even pull a Ron Artest (no, there's no jumping into the crowd for some fists o' fury on fans) and dip their entrepreneurial fingers into a clothing line, a record label, and a movie deal.

NBA Ballers goes mobile with Rebound for the PSP. Based on 2004's NBA Ballers, the game brings the same rags-to-riches story and one-on-one action to Sony's handheld.

These are the first arcade-style basketball games developed under the deal negotiated between the NBA and game publishers in March. In accordance with the terms agreed upon, Midway and Electronic Arts will alternate yearly possessions in the extreme-basketball genre on multiple platforms, with Midway tipping off 2006. The latest in EA's extreme basketball series, NBA Street V3, was released earlier this year. Simulation basketball games from EA and 2K Sports, NBA Live and NBA 2K, will continue to be released in yearly editions.

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