A slam, a jam, and a forbidden dunk to blow your mind

User Rating: 9.5 | Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden, Chapter 1 of the Hoopz Barkley SaGa PC
I downloaded this game expecting to just find a few slightly humorous references here and there; I mean, how good can a parody RPG be?

Oddly enough, I would rank this RPG up there in terms of fun. It's free, so the amount of entertainment you get is astounding considering you pay nothing. Most of the environments are ripped from other games (Chrono Trigger enthusiasts might recognize the sewers of Neo New York and the Necron 5) but the game is pretty interesting. Most of the music is taken from Nobuo Uematsu, so it's incredible, and what isn't taken from him helps to remind you that you're playing a game that doesn't take itself seriously.

What I actually liked most about this game aside from the humor was the gameplay. Every character has some interactive aspect to their attacks. Barkley can gain or lose defense, and make more damage based on if you hit a target, and one character has an attack similar to that of Zell in Final Fantasy VIII, where you basically choose his moveset. Combat, while hilarious with the item names and the monster names/skins, takes a bit of strategy in a few places, so the game isn't all laughs. It aims to be an actual game with the shell of parody. The graphics will take you back to the days of SNES, but the charm and dialogue more than make up for any lack in power, though I actually thought the lack of graphics made it better. There was a sort of low-budget hilarity that can only come from a 16-bit Charles Barkley head trying to move its mouth.

The best part of this game obviously lies in its use of humor; the title alone should alert you to that. The laughs start at the title screen and at the first line of the game, and don't stop until the end of the credits. Meeting with celebrities (not all associated with basketball) and the absurd portrayal by all the characters of the importance and complexity of basketball will make you nearly cry at times. The most humorous aspect of this game I found was that sometimes the game seemed to be somewhat serious for a while (well, as serious as a Charles Barkley RPG can be) and then out of nowhere you will get some line so ridiculous that it breaks the relative silence and dreary Nobuo Uematsu score, but not in a way that hurts the game.

I highly HIGHLY recommend this game to any fans of SNES-era RPGs, or just anyone looking for a good game to pick up for a little bit, play, save, and put it down with a smile on your face.