NBA Street Showdown Review

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Developer: EA Canada Publisher: EA Sports BIG
Release Date: April 25, 2005 Also On: None

Electronic Arts delivers another fine handheld adaptation with NBA Street Showdown. While the box shows it to be an NBA Street V3 rip, Showdown takes some of the best parts of the NBA Street series and compresses them to a sharp PSP equivalent. Like the three NBA Street games on consoles, it does not leave much out.

NBA Street Showdown doesn’t use the same NBA Challenge mode as NBA Street V3. Unlike NFL Street 2 Unleashed (another PSP version of an EA Sports BIG game), which used the exact same system as its console brother, Showdown has a slightly unique mode called King of the Court that occupied most of my playing time.

King of the Court feels much more like a mode in a handheld game than NFL Street 2’s modes, which is a welcome addition. Basically you create a baller and pick a few teammates, then hit the courts in an attempt to gain a reputation and own some ground. Each court usually has two different challenges, starting with a set number of pick-up games and then a slightly more difficult challenge, like a “Shot Blocker” mini-game or NBA rule settings. Though it basically makes for a shorter game, NBA Street Showdown feels like a handheld game rather than a washed-up console mime.

With only six buttons to execute tricks and special moves, NBA Street Showdown sacrifices some of the flexibility of the trick system from the console versions in favor of a slightly simplistic setup that resembles Street 2 more than Street V3. Though there are fewer tricks, you can still execute huge combos to earn trick points and flashy Gamebreaker moves.

I am slightly disappointed with the Gamebreaker system. EA Sports BIG decided to go back to the old style, where you could pocket a Gamebreaker 1 and save trick points for a Gamebreaker 2, which were both essentially cut-scenes. I absolutely loved the Gamebreaker system from Street V3, which was much more innovative than simply pressing some buttons and watching your characters do a slam-dunk.

Beyond that, NBA Street Showdown’s praises continue. The graphics are simply amazing for a handheld game. The courts are filled with detail and background, though some of the onlookers that littered the courts on console have disappeared. The character models are great, but some of the clothing is slightly bland. Overall, the game is smooth and stylish.

The music has been perfectly imported from the console version (like NFL Street 2 Unleashed) and sounds clear on the PSP’s speakers. EA Sports BIG kept Bobbito Garcia as the chief commentator, much to my dismay, but some of his classic quips are back, which was a nice touch.

Overall, NBA Street Showdown is a great console-to-handheld conversion that offers a lot of bang for your buck. I enjoyed the King of the Court mode more than anything simply because it offered quick and accessible fun, though there are some mini-games and the ever-available Quick Game option. Multiplayer is available through the PSP’s Ad Hoc wireless mode, which is a nice touch, though I didn’t get a chance to check it out. Ultimately Showdown is a game that you could sit down and have a lot of fun playing, and is definitely worth the $50 sticker price if you do not already own the three previous Street games on a console.

Graphics: 9.5
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 8.5
Creativity: 7.5
Replay Value/Game Length: 9
Final: 9.2
Written by Cliff Review Guide

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