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Up from (Super) Obscurity

As I've mentioned before, I have really bad taste in video games. I've found that there's a lot of big, expansive, well-loved Super Nintendo games that bore the hell out of me...yet I can play other, stupider, more rinky-dink games for hours.
I was particularly struck by that this week, when I purchased what was literally the cheapest Super Nintendo game in the store, a goofy sports-star cash-in and Amiga-game port known as Bill Laimbeer's Combat Basketball.
There is very little to recommend this game on the surface:
  • Every player in the game looks identical on the court
  • It's a basketball game with a lousy bird's-eye view, making the players look like heads and shoulders, AND making it difficult to tell how high off the ground the ball is (eventually you get used to seeing the little shadow scoot towards or away it as it rises and falls)
  • It only uses ONE BUTTON for your two offense commands and defense commands (if you're pressing the D-pad and the B button, you one thing; if you just press the B button, you do the other thing; what Thing 1 and Thing 2 are vary, depending on if you have the ball or not). You may recall that the Super Nintendo controller has FOUR face-buttons and two wing-buttons, not including the D-pad, start and select.
  • play control issues basically rule out strategic play
    1. Control automatically switches to the player nearest the ball, so you often find your down-court players retreating from your opponent because you think you're still chasing him with your up-court players,
    2. almost all passes will be picked off before they get to your teammates
    3. and you have no way of designating any plays/telling players to go to any kind of zone or area.
    4. Also, any time someone shoots at the basket, any player who the shot passes over can leap up in the air and intercept it.
  • your players spend most of the game just doing the "combat" move: leaping at each other like cybernetic mohawked frogs.
Yes, it's one of those Arch Rivals/NBA Jam "punch them to steal the ball" basketball games. Just look at these sorry game-play examples:
However, it has a "League" mode, where you can play different-colored teams during a 14-game season, for the chance to advance each season, from Division 3 all the way up to Super Division.
And between games? You can trade out players for other, more powerful players...with even goofier haircuts and facial expressions! Until one day, you can aspire to have a team made up of FIVE CLONES OF BILL LAIMBEER, Basketball Bad-Boy from Detroit!
So...I've been playing hours and hours of this game.
And while I was at the video game store, I noticed that Breath of Fire 2 was there, and it was one of the most expensive Super Nintendo games they had.
I got Breath of Fire 2 a year or two ago, and couldn't play for more than a half-hour: after slogging through the introductory movies, introductory town, introductory you-have-to-lose battles, and other introductory movies, I went to an Inn to save my game (like every other RPG I've ever played). I wasn't sure they'd actually saved my game, but hey, it was an Inn, right? It must have! I was so sure I used the "reset" button to confirm my hypothesis.
No dice: evidently the only way to save your game is to talk to the Dragon Statue in the second town. The one in the first town does nothing. But from the second town on? THAT'S how you save your game! Thanks guys!
Thus ends my only attempt to play Breath of Fire 2. But now, through the magic of me being a smart alec, I present to you an justification for my love of the stupid cyber-basketball game over a classic JRPG:
Bill Laimbeer's Combat Basketball vs. Breath of Fire 2:
A Critical Analysis
In-Game Pre-Title-Screen Introduction? XTREME vs. Pretentious
Character Customization? Team can be Re-Colored and have 13-Letter Names... vs. 4-Letter Character Names
Save Feature? Labeled "Save" vs. HIDDEN
How to save in Bill Laimbeer's Combat Basketball:
How to save in Breath of Fire 2:
If you talk to THIS Identical Dragon Statue in Town 1/Black-and-White, NOTHING HAPPENS.
If you talk to THAT Identical Dragon Statue in Town 1/Color, NOTHING HAPPENS.
Oh, and this Identical Dragon Statue in Town 2? Talk to it to save your game. HOW INTUITIVE.
Statistics? Clear and Concise vs. Really Complicated
Your Initial Wing-Man? Badass Mohawked Cybernetic Punks vs. Puppy Boy
Title Screen to Gameplay? Half a Second vs. Half an Hour
Bill Laimbeer's Combat Basketball Title-Screen to Gameplay Sequence.
Breath of Fire 2's Title-screen to Gameplay Sequence (click the picture to see edited highlights).
Who kicked off 2013 with SNES Message Board domination?
I think the winner is clear.
Any final thoughts, Pitfall Harry?
"We are going to get so much hate mail."
No worries, Harry -- that would require people to read this :D But in case you accidentally read this, feel free to post your comments below
— carlmarksguy, 2013-01-04
I wanted FF3 so badly that Christmas and was so excited to see what was obviously a SNES cart wrapped under the tree. Turned out to be Bill Laimbeer's Combat Basketball. :sigh: It might be better than BoF2, but not FF3. But we live in Metro Detroit and were big Pistons fans, so it made some sense, at least. And my parents didn't know any better.
Oh man, that sounds like a bummer! Yeah, getting "near miss" or "not very near miss" gifts is always a downer. (Though it's hard to argue that Combat Basketball is better than ANYTHING, I'm just having fun finding tiny places where it compares favorably to some big fancypants game)
Any game that opens with an eyegina and half an hour of pointless drivel is bound to be really, really slow. That's why I gave up on Metal Gear Solid 2; I was watching the game more than playing it. At least with something like a football game, there's a reason for stopping and putting the controller down every five seconds.
I love how the "Your Inital Wing-Man" screen looks like a gathering of intoxicated Egon Spengler cosplayers.
@Skinr: Yeah, BoF2 lost me in the first 30 seconds as the eyegina shouted about "being God's Strength!" But it's worth noting that I really really dislike almost all the storytelling tropes of Anime/JRPGs, so I'm not an impartial audience :) ... @Ragey: I bet most of the Combat Basketballers wouldn't collect and catalog rare forms of fungus and spores!
The numbers don't lie!
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