Kobe Bryant in NBA Courtside Review

Courtside easily adds up to the best basketball game on the N64, which, unfortunately, isn't much of a feat.

If you're unfamiliar with the name Kobe Bryant, it's your own fault. This Laker is considered by many sports writers to be the next Michael Jordan. Most people want to be like Mike, but Kobe actually is.

Visually, Courtside looks like most 3D polygonal basketball games, complete with overly boxy players that move with a smooth lifelike motion. Compared to the only other five-on-five basketball game for the N64, NBA In the Zone 98, the graphics of Courtside are incredible. This is due to the game running in what Nintendo calls a "Mid Hi-Res mode." This mode lets games look sharper without the blur that lots of N64 games have. And even though Courtside looks good compared to the pathetic graphics of NBA In The Zone 98, compared to the standards of the latest crop of PlayStation basketball games, the animations and graphics overall in Courtside are a little plain.

Courtside features seven different camera angles. In addition to the seven different views, the distance of the camera from the players can be changed at any one of the preset angles. So you can take the view of the game from right behind the back of Kobe or any other player, to a view from the camera on the ceiling of the event center. All this flexibility with the camera views really help out when trying to play a game with four people, since somebody always complains they can't see the action.

The sound effects of NBA Courtside aren't going to win any awards. But the sneaker squeaks and grunts of the players that are in the game get the job done. The funky music at the beginning of the game along with the commentary skills of Vic Orlando deserve some praise, though.

Playing NBA Courtside with the analog controller feels a little sluggish and unresponsive at first, but in no time, you get a feel for the control, and it isn't too bad. The best aspect of the game control is that it's fairly easy to learn, you can play at first just using the A and B buttons. Then, once you get a feel for the game, you can experiment with some of the special moves that are refreshingly easy to do, like a crossover dribble, setting picks, and a spin dribble. The D-pad is used to set up plays, you just push the direction on the pad that corresponds to the play you want to call.

Play calling is nearly required in Courtside, since the AI of the computer-controlled players is pretty good. The three levels of difficulty (rookie, pro, and all-star) give a good challenge that isn't just a constant battle to see who can steal the ball. In fact, some plays the computer executes on the all-star level are almost a bit too good.

The game as a whole is solid, but really isn't anything special. The overall speed of the game could use a little boost, and the graphics could use some cleaning up. And it would be nice if you could use the D-pad to control the game. But with all the categories the players are rated in and all the variable options accompanied with the overall presentation, Courtside easily adds up to the best basketball game on the N64, which, unfortunately, isn't much of a feat.

The Good

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The Bad

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