Thursday, July 7, 2011

Street Hoop: Magic On The Blacktop

Street Slam is three on three street basketball game for the Neo Geo.  It is basically the lovable Data East Corporation's response to the popularity of NBA Jam.  Street Slam is the name of the North American version in which teams come from various US cities, but the European version is known as Street Hoop, and in Japan it was given the most hilarious title of Dunk Dream.  In both of these versions the game is international, starring teams from various different countries.  While the over-the-top basketball game concept may not have been original, the game is still very charming and fun to play.


The game being three on three instead of two on two like NBA Jam doesn't make a huge difference on the way the game plays, and making a choice between the two is mostly aesthetic.  Do you prefer kind of boring hand-drawn sprites or weird digitized or whatever sprites?  The main reason I like Street Hoop is its awesome soundtrack.  It is perhaps the only original funky hip-hop soundtrack of its day.  It's sort of like a less awesome Street Fighter III soundtrack with a bunch of vocals.  Here's a sample of what the game has to offer:

Wait, did that just happen?  Yeah, I guess Dunk Dream was the first game to drop the N-word.  And it's not something that is just on the arranged soundtrack or something.  That song plays often during the game.  I don't think it's really all that big of a deal, as it is just a reflection of the popular music of the time, but I can't think of many games that have used the word nigga, in the context of music or otherwise.  Sure there was Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, but that came out ten years later and was part of a franchise that has frequently baited controversy. 


For the sake of historical interest I searched Google for “video games that have used the word nigga,” which didn't help me at all.  While wikipedia's entry on the word cunt has a section for video games for its uses in modern popular culture, the entry for nigga does not.  All this seems to have accomplished was getting Google to think I'm racist.  I don't look forward to the hate speech I am bound to encounter in further searches.  I just don't understand how people can just sit around and hate a group of people all day, like it's a hobby.

Well, I feel like I've brought this article to a bad place and I am having a hard time getting back into explaining this video game.  Street Slam is a fun arcade basketball game.  When you get one of the crazy dunks, the backboard bends down in a well animated comical fashion.  The biggest fault with the game is the price you'd have to pay for it in an arcade back when they existed.  Like most sports games, you have to put in credits for a portion of a full game, so it could end up costing you a bunch of money, considering each credit gives you a section of play that is only 2 minutes on the quick moving game clock.  Still, it is good fun and was also the inspiration for Lucky Glauber from The King of Fighters, and he happens to be awesome.

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