Unlike most sports on the 2600 which saw multiple titles, there were only two basketball games ever released during the 23 year lifespan of the VCS. This is surprising given the popularity of basketball and the universal appeal of the game. Whatever the reason, Double Dunk was the first update to basketball since the original Basketball which was released in 1978. Of course this is not counting the unreleased RS Basketball title.
Instead of attempting to simulate real basketball (which would have been very difficult on the 2600), Double Dunk is a two on two half court shootout. Most of basketball's rules still apply, you can shoot 3 pointers, pass, dunk, get fouled, and even set up plays if you're so inclined. However most of the time it just boils down to a standard two on two passing/shooting game. Since most rules can be turned off you really only need to pay attention to the rule that says you must clear the ball past the end line before shooting. This rule is kind of annoying, but keeps good players from abusing the ball time they get possession.
Double Dunk sports many options that let the player customize the game to their style of play. Players can choose computer or human opponent, game length by time (2-15 min) or score (10-48), allow 3 point shots, enable the 10 second clock, enable 3 second lane violation, enable/disable fouls, and even choose uniform color. With all these options available, even the most skilled or novice player can have fun.
As mentioned earlier, players can set up certain plays depending on whether they're on offense or defense. However executing these plays is tricky and most of the time they're not really necessary. Due to the limited number of buttons available on the 2600 stick, plays are executed by pressing the joysick in a specific direction then pressing the fire button a specific amount of times (each button press implimenting the next part of the play). For example, if you wanted to try the Pick and Roll you would need to press the joystick to the upper left or right, press the button to move your inside man to set up the pick, press the button again to pass to the inside man. Press it again to jump, and finally press it once more to shoot. See? Simple!
Double Dunk is an excellent upgrade to the original Basketball. Due to the failure of RS Basketball to see release, 2600 sports fans were starved for any new basketball title, and thankfully for them Double Dunk delivered. While it may not be the most realistic basketball simulation, it plays to the 2600's strengths. Just one question remains, exactly how does one double dunk?