Throughout the history of video games, there have been fewer fan bases as spoiled as those of basketball games.
From the fun and exciting NBA Street series to the powerhouse that is NBA 2K, basketball games sure have seen their fair share of gems.
Unfortunately, everyone only seems to want to remember the great games. But why not ruin everyone’s day by bringing up some of the worst pieces of garbage games ever created.
We’re talking about games so bad that they become the jokes of a genre. Titles that made you feel like you’d rather go play in a busy intersection instead of spending just five more minutes with the game.
Oh, and we know it’s going to be brought up so let’s just get it out of the way. We didn’t include Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City in this list solely because it wasn’t presented nor supposed to be viewed as a sports game.
Anyway, let’s get going with the Top 10 worst basketball games ever made.
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NBA In The Zone ’98
Back in the 90s, with the switch to 3D graphics by almost everyone, games had looked better than ever. And while it’s easy to say that most of the games from then didn’t hold up well visually because of the improvement in technology, some were terrible even for their time.
Enter NBA In The Zone ’98.
Everything looked blurred and distorted in some way, shape, or form which would gave players like myself headaches after a short time with the game. But if you were able to overlook the visual issues, then the gameplay was sure to push you away.
It was a hard game to control on the court, and the AI rarely missed shots. If you weren’t perfect on the court, you weren’t winning. You can say it was the game that began the death of Konami’s involvement with basketball games.
Pat Riley Basketball
With the importance of Pat Riley to the game of basketball, it’s hard to believe he’d license himself to this abomination of a game.
With no NBA license, Pat Riley Basketball needed to rely on great gameplay to make it worthwhile. Unfortunately, it didn’t have that either.
The game basically forced every player to run down the court and attempt a dunk just to score any points. Jump shots were as inconsistent as anything else in the game, and, for some reason, the developers thought it would be a good idea to have a cutscene play on nearly every shot.
That’s really the only “enjoyable” thing from this game. Filled with glitches, Double Dribble was a game that was just too easy to play once you learned how to exploit the game. And because the NES was still pretty new at the time, programming for it wasn’t mastered by many, thus the console would struggle to render the sprites in the game. This lead to seizure-endusing flickers of the players or just flat out disappearing players at times.
Ever want to play a streetball game where you only get to choose from three characters like you’re playing Streets of Rage? No? Well that’s too bad because we have just the game for you!
Jammit was a game that offered no redeeming value at all for players due to the lack of players and piss-poor gameplay.
Every time — and I mean every…single…time — you tried to attempt any sort of shot near the basket, an animation would trigger that left you screwing up the rest of your shot. If you tried to put the rebound right back up, guess what? That’s right! That animation would happen all over again. To top it off, if a foul occurred, you had to actually pause the game and call it yourself.
Talk about stupid.
RapJam Volume 1
Continuing with the stupid, next up is Rap Jam: Volume 1, a game that allowed you to play basketball as one of your favorite rap stars.
Choose from the likes of Flava Flav, Naughty by Nature, LL Cool Jay and even Queen….Latifah and take to the ugliest courts in the world for some no-holds barred streetball. With no fouls and the ability to throw elbows, this game made you want to have someone throw elbows at you so you didn’t have to remember ever playing it.
The game’s were one-on-one and took place on a full basketball court. The characters didn’t resemble their hip-hop counterparts in the slightest, and there were only two modes available to play — exhibition and tournament mode. You know, in case you wanted to play more than one minute of this piece of garbage.
The funniest thing is they named this Volume 1, as if to think a second one would ever come out.
Jordan vs. Bird: One on One
You know what sounds fun? Playing a game of basketball with the only option being Larry Bird or Michael Jordan.
This game only gave you the option of playing mini-games rather than actual full games of basketball. You could play a one-on-one game, use Jordan in a slam dunk “contest”, or having a three-point shootout using only Bird.
The players felt like they were sliding on ice, and the gameplay often left you questioning how certain shots went in while others missed. The game just felt like a lazy cash grab based on the superstar status of the two players than anything else.
It’s still surprising to see that EA was behind this game back in the day….or is it?
Bill Laimbeer’s Combat Basketball
This game was weird. The idea of a futuristic basketball game sounds pretty interesting, but they way Hudson Soft developed it threw that idea completely out the window.
The game took fouls out of the game and presented players with a top-down view of a court with players in suits of futuristic armor who could punch, tackle and use weapons on their opponents.
The character models looked like they were designed in the earliest days of MS Paint, and the “basketball” looked more like a beach ball of some sort.
The game had so much potential to be a fun time killer, instead it became a game that should’ve just been killed.
White Men Can’t Jump
Remember the Atari Jaguar? Well if you do and you were one of the unfortunate souls to own one, hopefully you didn’t get stuck with this pile of junk as well.
Coming out three years after the movie of the same name, White Men Can’t Jump tries to capitalize on a pretty damn good movie, but fails miserably at everything other than being a laughingstock of a game.
The game had nothing to do with the movie and didn’t even have the likenesses of the main characters in it. The gameplay is unresponsive and the visuals look terrible, even for mid-1990’s standards.
Even worse were phrases like “Steal” and “Brick” showing up in the middle of the screen, blocking players from being able to see what the hell was going on.
Slam City with Scottie Pippen
At one point in gaming, digitized visuals was the “next big thing” in graphics. Rather than use custom sprites, developers thought it would be cooler to just take real people and digitize them inside games.
While some succeeded — see Mortal Kombat, though the game wasn’t fully digitized — Slam City was the posterboy of how terrible this idea really was.
Presented as a basketball game, this was more an interactive movie that had you take the role of “Ace”, a streetballer who was tasked with playing a number of ballers on the court before going toe-to-toe with Pippen himself. The “game” featured terrible acting with the only gameplay seeing you press a button to trigger a cutscene.
Seriously. The best thing to ever happen to gaming was the death of Full Motion Video.
NBA Elite 11
Expecting something else? The worst basketball game of all-time is one game that was so bad, it didn’t even see a full release to the public and almost killed an entire division of EA Sports.
NBA Elite 11 was a game that was riddled with an unheard of amount of bugs and glitches. There were hotspots on the floor where ever shot would drop as well as an area of the court that would force players to go into a cross pose.
When the team at EA Sports released a demo, it became a laughingstock in the gaming world. It was so poorly received that people spent more time memeing and mocking the game than actually playing it.
What do you think was the worst basketball game of all time? Let us know in the comment section below.