I got a chance to mess around with the “NBA Street Homecourt” demo over the weekend. I put ‘Melo, A.I. and Marcus Camby against Rasheed, Rip and Chauncey Billups. I had some fun with it, mostly because the “Street” series is the polar opposite of the traditional hoops game. It’s the anti-simulator — just crazy buckets back and forth, a lot like “NBA Jam,” but without the ear-bleeding noise of the announcer that went “whoooooa … BOOM SHAKA-LAKA” when you vaulted 50 feet in the air for a dunk.
Of course, the game looks pretty solid visually, which is important since the focus is on real-life playgrounds. When one of the players reaches and hits a “gamebreaker,” their home court flashes on the screen. Like the other Street games, a lot of the gameplay focuses on flashy moves designed to make the guy guarding you look silly. You bounce the ball between someone’s legs, bounce it off their head, cross them over so they fall down, all that good stuff. The dunks, of course, are nuttier than ever — I ended a lot of games by slamming it once, catching it with my feet, tossing it up into the air, FLIPPING, then catching it and dunking it again. That counts as two.
One think I’ll never understand is why you’re allowed to goal-tend, smacking the ball away when the ball is WELL on its way down. Cheap as hell. I also didn’t like ‘Sheed practically punching my players out of the way just to get the ball — I know it’s streetball and there are no fouls, but when was the haymaker a sanctioned defensive technique? You don’t see the And1 guys or the dudes at Rucker Park whipping out the bicycle kick to D up the point guard, do you? In the end, I guess I can deal with that … but the goal-tending madness is complete crap. What’s the point in taking a jumpshot when some jackass can swat it away right as it reaches the hoop?