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NBA Hang Time
Basketball arcade game NBA Hangtime was created and published by Midway in 1996. Home versions were made available for the Super NES, PlayStation, Nintendo 64, and...
NBA Hangtime: A Slam Dunk of Nostalgia and Innovation
In the world of arcade basketball gaming, few titles have left as enduring an impression as NBA Hangtime. Developed and unleashed by Midway in 1996, this game is a testament to the excitement of the NBA, combining real players, fast-paced action, and groundbreaking features. In this comprehensive exploration, we'll dissect NBA Hangtime's gameplay, its place in the NBA Jam series, and why it still stands as a classic in the realm of arcade sports gaming.
The Arcade Sensation
NBA Hangtime initially emerged as an arcade sensation, offering gamers a chance to experience the thrill of basketball like never before. Released by Midway, this game became an instant hit, drawing players into its high-flying dunks, lightning-fast gameplay, and a roster of real NBA stars. However, it's essential to understand that NBA Hangtime wasn't just another arcade basketball game; it was the culmination of the original NBA Jam development team's efforts, a team renowned for creating basketball gaming magic.
The NBA Jam Connection
Before we delve deeper into the game itself, let's address its connection to the iconic NBA Jam series. NBA Hangtime marked a pivotal moment in the series' evolution. The game's title was adjusted because the NBA Jam name was acquired by Acclaim Entertainment, the publisher responsible for the home market releases. Concurrently, Acclaim released NBA Jam Extreme in the same year as Hangtime. This shift gave birth to NBA Hangtime, which retained the essence of NBA Jam while introducing novel elements.
Innovations That Set It Apart
NBA Hangtime was more than just another entry in the NBA Jam series. It introduced groundbreaking features that set it apart from its predecessors and successors. Here are the innovations that make NBA Hangtime a standout:
Create Player: One of the most prominent additions was the "Create Player" feature, allowing players to craft their custom basketball superstar. This feature permitted the specification of attributes like height, weight, power, shooting, and defensive skills using a limited number of attribute points. Players could continuously enhance their created characters by winning games, making each match a stepping stone to greatness.
Enhanced Gameplay: While NBA Hangtime retained the core rules of NBA Jam, it introduced several gameplay enhancements. Spin moves, alley-oops, and double slam dunks joined the repertoire, adding layers of strategy and excitement. The "team fire" mode, triggered by alley-oops and double dunks, elevated the gameplay to new heights. Each team now boasted a five-member roster, ensuring that even the most dedicated NBA fans found their favorite players in the game.
Roster and Realism: NBA Hangtime featured a roster from the 1995–96 NBA season in the arcade version and the 1996–97 NBA season in home console versions. This ensured that players could select from any of the 29 NBA teams, immersing themselves in an authentic NBA basketball experience.
Combination Locks: NBA Hangtime introduced a three-digit "combination lock" feature, similar to Mortal Kombat 3's "Kombat Kodes." This allowed players to input codes on the Match-Up screen, altering the game's appearance and gameplay. These codes added an extra layer of fun and experimentation to the gameplay.
Trivia Quiz: After each game, NBA Hangtime featured an NBA trivia quiz. Correctly answering trivia questions in the arcade game qualified players for a prize drawing, while in home versions, it rewarded additional attribute points for created players. This feature not only entertained but also encouraged players to test their NBA knowledge.
Lasting Legacy: Despite being the third game in the series and not drastically different from its predecessors, NBA Hangtime's combination of features made it a standout. Notably, the "Build your own Character" concept, akin to RPG character creation, allowed players to customize their players fully. With this feature, players could access every character's heads, including hidden characters, creating a unique RPG-style progression.
In addition to these innovations, NBA Hangtime boasted an impressive roster of legendary players and teams, with the notable absence of Michael Jordan. Teams like the Rockets, Jazz, Knicks, Spurs, and even a rookie Kobe Bryant offered an array of basketball legends to choose from, ensuring that every match felt electrifying.
The 2D Marvel
One aspect that distinguishes NBA Hangtime is its visual appeal. It was the last 2D game in the NBA Jam series, yet its graphics continue to impress even today. Unlike NBA Jam TE, Hangtime embraced more detailed animation to convey actions like playing defense. This commitment to animation added a layer of immersion that elevated the gaming experience.
The Essence of Real Basketball
NBA Hangtime retained the core essence of real basketball while simplifying it for the arcade format. The two-on-two format ensured that the gameplay was fast-paced yet retained the strategic elements of the sport. Players could execute classic basketball moves like outlet passes, attacking off the ball, and coordinated plays. With real-second clocks and tournament mode (without rubber banding), NBA Hangtime authentically emulated the feel of a genuine basketball game.
A Slam Dunk Conclusion
In conclusion, NBA Hangtime remains an enduring classic in the world of arcade sports gaming. Its innovative features, including character creation, enhanced gameplay, and trivia quizzes, set it apart from its peers. While it may have been the third game in the series, its combination of elements made it a standout in the NBA Jam franchise.
Whether you're a fan of retro gaming, basketball, or both, NBA Hangtime invites you to relive the excitement of the NBA in an arcade-style experience. It's a testament to the enduring appeal of classic gaming, and its influence can still be felt in contemporary sports gaming.
So, step onto the virtual court, make those strategic calls, and relive the magic of NBA Hangtime. Whether you're an old-school gamer reminiscing about the past or a newcomer eager to experience the thrill, this game promises hours of basketball fun. NBA Hangtime may have been born in 1996, but its legacy lives on as a slam dunk in the annals of gaming history.