AGH Jaguar Review:

by Atari

To date there have been only a few sports games released for the Jaguar - Brutal Sports Football, Checkered Flag, Troy Aikman Football, Sensible Soccer, and Super Burnout. Unfortunately, only Super Burnout managed to wow critics and players - until now. The Jaguar has its first basketball game, and it ain't trash.

White Men Can't Jump is a half court two on two basketball game which features some rather innovative effects, like a floating camera, the Team Tap, and use of a rather good movie license - but more on those later.

After the opening screens you come to the Main Menu on which you have five selections - Vs. Mode, Tournament Mode, Resume Game, Options, and Joypad.

VS. MODE - Using the Team Tap, up to 4 players can compete against each other in a 2 on 2 game of Street Basketball. Choose your teams, there are 25, with names like 3pt Kings, Super Dunks, Dis Masters, and Urban Angels to name a few. From the option screen you can set everything from a timed to a point game. You then can choose from 4 different courts, Street, Beach, City, Rural. Then it's up to you and your friends. You can also play against the computer and choose its team as well. After one game, it's over and to play again you must sift through all the choices again.

TOURNAMENT MODE - This mode is far more complex than a simple two on two game. It goes like this, you and your partner want to play in the Slam City Street Basketball Tournament but you don't have any money and it costs $5000 to play. So you borrow $500 from the local loansharks, The Breakneck Brothers - Tangle and Cash - who you see after every game. Start playing hoops locally, trying to earn $5000 so you can play in the tournament. If you lose too much money and can't pay back the Breakneck Brothers, well, they're loansharks - figure it out.

If you make $5000, you instantly get entered into the tournament. You have the ability to save your game in this mode so that you can come back later if you run short on time and don't want to lose all your money.

Included with WMCJ at no extra charge is the Team Tap, a four-player joypad adaptor. The Team Tap comes in a box slightly thicker than the standard Jaguar game box and uses heavy cardboard for packing. There is a very nice picture of the unit on the front and back with a pair of Jaguar eyes looking over it.

It is a very solid design and measures just under 6 inches x 3 inches x 1 inch. Don't forget about the clearance room to use it. There are four ports on the front of the Tap (A,B,C,D), and they are all the standard size of a Jaguar port. Out of the back of the Tap runs a single cable which connects to the Jaguar joypad port.

In the case of WMCJ, the Tap is plugged into port 2 on the Jag. Ports A, B and C on the Team Tap are used for the respective number of players in the game.

The Team Tap is NOT required to play WMCJ, but it does make it more fun. Also, it is possible to use a Team Tap on each port which will give you EIGHT players for a game, but software must be written to use it first.

The graphics are sharp and well defined. Two problems, one is purely cosmetic. First and most importantly, is that the colors used in the game all have the same tone. They are all earthy toned, from the asphalt to the colors of the characters. This can cause confusion while playing as you can lose track of what is going on - see why I suggested leaving the arrow on about your guy in the Options section? If there had been a little more light in the game, it would have brightened up the scenes and made it easier to distinguish between the characters and background.

Cosmetic - only the main players are rendered in 3D. The items along the side of the court, people, fences, etc., are quite visibly flat, as the floating camera shows us. I would have liked to see them better rendered, and maybe doing something, like cheering. Aside from that, the graphics are sharp and nicely drawn. They fit into the mood of the game very well.

The music in WMCJ leaves a lot to be desired. It's not close to the tunes in T2K. They seem to fit the game but sound tinny and really lack the style one would find being played in a game of Street Basketball.

There is also a running audio commentary by the players - "Get off me chump!," "Hands on the Rim!," "It's hard being this good!" The samples are clean and there. I leave them on, but really have no love or hate for them.

White Men Can't Jump is NOT a game you can completely master in five minutes. It takes time and practice to get the feel of it. But the gameplay is there. It is really addictive, like Cannon Fodder and Pinball Fantasies. The biggest difference over them that WMCJ has is that it does not look like it could have been pulled off on a Genesis or SNES. This is 64bits, for those who can describe a 64bit game to me.

This is the best sports game on the Jaguar to date. It is fun, addictive, and allows you to really show off what a fine machine the Jaguar is. Kudos to the programmers at High Voltage. And there are more sports games on the way, Hockey, Football, Baseball. I know of two that are immediately planning for use of the Team Tap and will be released with software built in to support it.

Title White Men Can't Jump
Publisher Atari
System Atari Jaguar
Graphics 8
Sound 6
Gameplay 8
Overall 8
Reviewer Mark Santora

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