Saber Interactive provided me with a copy of their game, NBA Playgrounds, for the Nintendo Switch. I walked into this game not knowing what to expect. Being a Digital Download only title, I had not heard of it and sports games, aside from FIFA, are not my usual cup of tea, so I did not know what to expect. Nevertheless, I was pleasantly surprised to find a quirky basketball game that brings back my childhood memories of NBA Jam.
You do not immediately have access to every available player. The game starts off by having the player open card packs. These packs contain some of the players available from each team. Each player has a varying stat for eight different attributes. Certain players are labeled as EPIC or LEGEND, and have near-perfect stats for some of their attributes while the others may be lower than average. More player packs can be earned through winning the local tournaments and exhibition games. This facet of the game reminds me greatly of FIFA’s Ultimate Team, where you can only use the players you get via the player packs. I think most players would find it extremely satisfying to open a pack and see one or more players with EPIC or LEGEND to be played.
There are three game modes- Exhibition, Tournaments, and Online. The Exhibition game mode is fun for when you are trying to play locally with other people or just polish your skills against an A.I. Tournaments mode is the “single-player” mode. You play through six tournaments. Each tournament has four matches with special objectives in each match. The special objectives start out fairly easy and progressively get harder. Once a tournament is unlocked, the court that it is played on is also unlocked for exhibition play. The Online Match game mode is unlocked once you are able to beat all of the tournaments in Tournaments Mode. In the time I had to play, I was unable to unlock this mode. I was however able to play local multiplayer quite often.
I will say, I did find the controls to be frustrating at times. While on defense, you cannot hold a button to make your selected player keep facing the opponent holding the ball. This made it much harder to block dunks and shots on more than one occasion. Other than those issues, the rest of the controls are fluid and easy to learn. Any attempt to score is determined by timing the release of the shoot button. Blocking is determined by the player’s stats as well as timing.
Overall NBA PLAYGROUNDS is a very fun game even for those who do not usually pick up NBA or even sports titles. The solo gameplay provides a good enough challenge that one can enjoy and have fun playing solo, while the Multiplayer experience will stay fun for all players, even if you have that one friend that plays the game way too much. The only reason I rate this 8/10 is because of the sometimes-frustrating controls, otherwise this is a solid game that you’re sure to enjoy.
Here is the NBA Playgrounds on Nintendo Switch Gameplay Trailer:
NBA Playgrounds is available on the PlayStation 4 computer entertainment system, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PC (Steam) as a digital-only release for $19.99.