NBA Playgrounds tries to be the reincarnation of the highly successful NBA Jam.  You may remember it from the mid 90’s in the arcade or from the SNES version of 2007. Either way, you are more than likely to be drawn to play this based on those classic qualities than knowing much about this game. My NBA Playgrounds review hopes to help you decide if the classic fun of NBA Jam has arrived along with this game.

With a version on the PS4, Xbox One, PC and what I based my review around: Nintendo Switch. What do we get as a result of looking back into the past for inspiration on a modern sports-arcade game?

Well, it turns out the whole package is largely average, even the fun is somewhat watered down. See my thoughts below, and don’t forget to Share This on social media too before you go. I’d also like to know which OTHER sports game could make this style really work! Drop me a note in the Disqus comments at the end… a return to FIFA street anyone?

Look and Feel – “High school basketball”

NBA Playgrounds is a straight up 2vs2 basketball arcade game.  The characters have the cartoon caricature look alike of the current NBA players.  The game uses street basket ball courts and sees the players jumping ludicrously high and slamming the ball in the basket.

Much like classic arcade action back in the day.

NBA Playgrounds Review image 1

The moves the players can do sometimes verges on defiance of gravity and realism.  Putting this aside the game looks fun, but wait here.

Those seeking the nostalgia of the NBA Jam series might want to hold back as this game doesn’t some how manage to deliver the fast fire basketball experience.

Story/Game modes and Gameplay – “You keep what you unlock”

The purpose of the game is play 2vs2 basketball and unlock more players from the roster.  You can  play in several gaming modes which still mirror the format.  The missing is the online mode is also now here on Switch bringing with it the enjoyment of playing with your friends.

I have been waiting to deliver my verdict on the full game and finally it is here! It does add a layer of extra fun playing online, but the overall gameplay still holds Playgrounds from ever being something to really enjoy.

NBA Playgrounds Review image 2

The gameplay mechanic that really changes the game, is the accuracy/timing that is required for shooting the basket.

Once you work out the timing its possible to sink plenty of points.  The more actions you do correctly the more lottery points you accumulate allows access to the silliness and crazy slam dunks. At the end of the game points for experience are aware and new moves can be bought for players and new players can be bought from the store in the form of trading cards.

Controls and Switch Gaming Modes

The game was played in both docked and handheld modes during the review using joy-cons and pro controller.  There was no major difference in the controllers used, the game plays the same as it doesn’t support motion controls.

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TV mode shows a sharper image than the slightly blurred handheld version.  The controller vibration feels a little to harsh with an almost hooting vibration sound akin to other Switch titles.

The game supports local 4 player, but each player will need either a pair of joy-cons or a pro controller.  The game doesn’t support one joy-con in horizontal mode.

Overall – “Seven days without shooting hoops makes you feel week”

The game feels a bit lacklustre and rushed. It fails to deliver the expected arcade basketball experience.  The long loading times are a down point between games and the menus are over complex.

The end to end basketball fun of NBA Jam is missing and the game feels frustrating sluggish. The graphics tend to become a bit blurry and i sometimes the players weren’t followed by the scrolling camera.  Sadly this game doesn’t deliver the nostalgia trip that i was expecting.

An online patch makes the game better than I would have given it now but it’s still a very average game off hoops. No 3 pointers in sight! Check out my scores below and don’t forget to comment too!

About This NBA Playgrounds Review

Game Reviewed: NBA Playgrounds, Digital Edition Provided by Publisher
Review Format: Nintendo Switch
PEGI Rating: 3

Games & Series:
Developers & Publishers:
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NBA Playgrounds Verdict
  • Graphics - 6/10
  • Story - 5/10
  • Game Modes - 6/10
  • Gameplay - 6/10
  • Fun Factor - 6/10
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Rossco is the co-founder of MGL and loves a game with a good single player story. His nickname "Respawn Rossco" comes from his inability to play online shooters, yet he continues to try! His articles are all about enjoying gaming no matter the format you play, he updates MGL daily with news, reviews and in-depth articles.

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