Retro Profile: Double Dribble (NES)

Man, I still remember that night back in 1989, when my brother came home with dad from the local toy store. He was holding a small white bag with a clown’s face on it, and he was very excited about what he had in it. What was inside, of course, turned out to be Double Dribble. Minutes later, we popped it into the NES, and had a blast within the first 5 minutes of getting into the game. The first thing that jumped out at me was the presentation. I still like viewing the opening scene after you press start, and seeing the crowds flood into the stadium, while a shortened, 8-bit rendition of the nation anthem plays…and Konami even threw in a blimp and some balloons for fun.

Before there were player stats, fancy cross-over moves, heavy strategies, and substitutions…there was just good ‘ol 5-on-5 basketball. That’s something else that I love about this game, and I’m sure that many others liked about it too…the simplicity of it all. Now, I’m not harping on the advancements of modern-day basketball gaming, but sometimes I just enjoy playing a basketball game without all the extra stuff that goes into it. All of the teams play almost exactly the same, except some are slightly better at shooting 3-pointers or performing dunks than others. It’s very satisfying to hear the ball go into the hoop when you successfully make a 3-point shot. And while it’s great to make a nice 2 point jumper, nothing quite compares to the joy of seeing the camera switch to a close up of your player go in for the slam dunk. As a kid, I swear that was the most realistic thing that I had ever seen in a game up to that point. I simply loved it!

The graphics in Double Dribble can mostly be regarded as simple, even for its time. Most of the visual detail shows up when going in for a dunk and”¦well that’s about it. Even so, the playing arena is realistically sized and lined with cheering fans and a few cheerleaders on the side for good measure too. Speaking of which’few of us can forget the amusing halftime show featuring Konami cheerleaders shaking their cute little 8-bit tushies and making different shapes and formations with their cheerleading squad. It’s like something straight out of Gradius, actually. And while that’s going on, the 2 team’s mascots will stroll out in the back ground, and look at them like, “What the heck are they doing”? Good stuff indeed.

Play or Stay? To put it quite simply, Double Dribble is one of the best sports games on the NES…period. Konami struck gold again with its simple gameplay, and fun factor. It’s more than just a good trip down “nostalgia lane”…it’s a classic among the many finely tuned Nintendo and Konami games. This game is pretty easy to find online and perhaps even in your local used game store. It shouldn’t cost you more than $10…and that’s on the high end. If you don’t have it already in your NES collection, give some thought to adding it in there. Even if you don’t generally like sports games, I think many gamers out there would enjoy this one. Hopefully in time, this title will be released on the Virtual Console as well.

Jamie Alston is somewhat of an unusual gamer. While most people crave the visual delights that can be found in many of the current generation consoles of today, he actually prefers the 8-bit & “super 8-bit” (SNES) glory days of yesteryear. This is probably due in part to the fact that his brother chose the Nintendo Entertainment System over the Sega Genesis back in 1989…or maybe it had more to do with that time when he fell and hit his head on the blacktop in elementary school. Whatever the reason might be, Jamie has an undying love for those unnecessarily big cartridges he spent so many summer afternoons playing. When he’s not raiding trucks that “have started to move” for rations and key cards, he stays busy supporting his gaming hobby by working as a Policies & Procedures Analyst for a financial company in Baltimore, Maryland. And when he’s not working for “the man”, he’s working on the next retro review for the week. And when he’s not fighting off writer’s block and much needed sleep, he’s raiding trucks that “have started to”—well, you get the idea. Currently living in Randallstown, MD, Jamie sums up his life long dream this way: “If I one day find myself driving on the highway in a 2004 Honda Accord with an NES directional pad for a steering wheel, you can bet that I’ll be holding the up direction for that turbo boost on the straight-aways. That’s when I’ll know that I’ve finally made it in life”.