Realsports Basketball is the only title in the RealSports
series that was announced and never released (interestingly the
Atari 5200 version of RS Basketball suffered a similar
fate). This is odd because basketball is a fairly popular
game and you'd think it would be one of the first titles to come
out. Unlike the other games in the RealSports series,
Atari decided to contract the programming of the game to Roklan
who had recently done Crazy Climber for them. Although the
game was finalized and given to Atari, they ultimately decided
to not publish it. There's no concrete explanation as to
why this was, but there may have been some concerns about the
gameplay not being as polished as it should be.
Ball stealing in RS Basketball is seriously flawed. Simply touching your opponent will result in having the ball stolen! This coupled with the limited range of movement for your players makes for very frustrating games. Fouls are occasionally called (controlled by the left difficulty switch), but they are limited to reach-in fouls and tend to get annoying quickly. Earlier versions of the game had a referee who would run up and down the side of the court calling fouls (his graphics are still in the game code), but was taken out due to lack of space. The referee can be seen in early promotional shots of the game, so the decision to remove him must have been made quite late.
The graphics for RS Basketball can best be describes as 'serviceable'. They're a notch above the original Basketball cart, but look a bit dated for 1983. The players are rendered as little guys with blocks for heads with absolutely no detail, the baskets are a tiny net on a oversized pole, and the background consists of a single set of empty bleachers. I guess the fans didn't want to stick around and watch this sham of a basketball game either. The sounds in the game are minimal, only consisting of cheers for making a basket and a rather odd dribbling sound. Speaking of dribbling, how does a square ball bounce?
While RS Basketball is an improvement over the Atari's classic Basketball game it was too little too late. It's somewhat shocking at all the features that are missing, given that most of the other games in the RealSports series included them. There are no time outs, no shot clock, no foul line shots, no 3-point shots, no out of bounds. There are twelve different variations, but those only effect the number of players, length of the period, and speed of the players. Obviously Atari had some doubts about this title, but it remained on Atari's schedule until late fall of 1983 meaning that they may have been reconsidering releasing it. Sports games were never the 2600's strong suit, and with the Intellivision and it's superior sports lineup nipping at Atari's heals, RS Basketball wouldn't have helped Atari's cause. Atari did eventually manage to redeem itself with the superior basketball game Double Dunk, but that wouldn't happen until 1988.
|12/28/82||Very late beta
|1/11/83||Basketball EPROM Cartridge 011-01||Final version|