Let us get one thing straight. Basketball is about cruising across the wooden floor, bouncing that big ball, dodging those suckers with long legs and clumsy arms. It is definitely not at its best when some beefhead launches himself at your torso, gives you a crack on the nod, and then zips off with the ball. That just is not basketball. Not cricket, as they say.
But the writers of Future Basketball do not reckon on it working that way. They figure basketball is best when the good players are getting turned into pancakes and all the slobbering gits are crashing around scoring baskets. In their future, lots of people are unemployed and so become loonies who like to watch basketball played the Oliver Reed way.
In Future Basketball the general idea is to don Robocop suits, go out, go berzerk and if by some happy coincidence you end up with the ball, go towards the basket. When you are close enough to the target, stop dead, lob the ball netwards, and jump around stupidly when the darned thing is home. Of course all this requires some heavy duty joystick waggling and fire-button slamming, but you get the general idea.
To add some variety to this exercise, there is also three different 'playing surfaces' which have the novel distinction of being almost exactly the same. There are also some inexplicable little flying bits which get in everybody's way for no apparent reason whatsoever. These saw blades and bombs are supposed to take down the other team, but prove a far greater hindrance than help.
As you may have guessed, playing Future Basketball does not require a degree in sociology. As in most computerised team sports games these days, the computer decides which player is closest to the ball and four big arrows start flashing over him (it is all seen from an overhead perspective). That player should then be directed at an opposing player (preferably the one with the ball). Press the fire button, crash towards the fool, and come out of the encounter with the ball. No problem.
Then go forward the basket, avoid the suckers and get yourself in front of the net. Leave the joystick on dead, dire the button (there is no need to aim) and - surely not, what a surprise, knock me over with a fanzine - the ball is in the net. Do this several times and you will win the match.
GRAPHICS AND SOUND
There is an awful lot of Speedball floating around here and graphically it is by no means a bad job. Players will usually go in the direction you point them, but footspeed is a problem on all levels. Annoyingly, all players run at roughly the same speed, so if you are chasing someone in full flight, you are going to stay that way until the computer chooses an idle player to take over.
The worst aspect is impact detection. Once you attempt a tackle the chances are you will win the ball, and it works in much the same way for the computer or human opponent. If there is no competition, why bother?
On the sound front there is nothing to say because as soon as you hear the dreadfully cliched 'Amiga action computer game music', you will switch the volume down, or at least toggle the effects.
The amusement level of such violence plummets after about half an hour, even if you are playing against someone whose face you would love to carve in. All the pushing, shoving and grunting wears a little thin on the fun front after that. The league option, which features an editing facility, does help the game hang on a little while longer, but it has not got the legs for a long run in the big league.
Future Basketball looks like too many other games. The original concept suffers from flawed logic: basketball with contact is rather like boxing with baseball bats: mindless fun for a while, but the real skill vanishes. Technically, it suffers the odd glitch where players refuse to do what they are told. It suffers from a lack of depth, but worse, it suffers from a serious lack of fun.