NBA Ballers: Rebound Review (PSP)
Submitted on: Jul 25, 2006 by Shawn Drotar
The NBA Ballers series has become the new standard-bearer for one-on-one arcade basketball action, and the latest iteration of the series, NBA Ballers: Rebound seems like a perfect fit for the PSP.
While the game's essentially a port of the original Ballers for consoles, it's a good one, and it's a fun diversion for those looking for a little hoops action on the PSP.
However, the fact that's it's essentially a two-year old game with updated rosters is a bitter pill to swallow.
Clay Shaver reviewed the original NBA Ballers in May of 2004, and there's not much to add to his review regarding game modes or the underlying game play itself, so I'll focus instead on the translation of the game to Sony's portable machine.
Playing the game is still fun (even two years later), but like many console ports, the lack of a right analog stick on the PSP greatly hampers the game itself, because success is the console version was predicated upon making many different moves with the ball- moves that can't easily be replicated with the face buttons. Because most everything in Rebound stems from the amount of "trick points" you earn in-game, the inflexibility of the control scheme brings the whole game down form within.
The rosters are updated, of course, and the newer players look authentic; obviously, a lot of attention was focused on re-creating their faces accurately, and the work here is mostly excellent.
In fact, the game's graphics run smoothly and animate very well, drawing you further in, but some pixelization and choppiness when sound files load detracts even more than usual because the game itself is so pleasant to look at.
As I mentioned earlier, the Ballers series has been centered around showy play, earning trick points to earn money and then using that money to help upgrade your player. Well, the control scheme does significantly hamper the acquisition of trick points, but in an odd semi-balanced sort of way, there are less items available to acquire, anyway, and this is a bit unfortunate.
A more significant problem emerges from the moment the game starts - load times.
I'm still looking forward to the first PSP title that doesn't have poor load times, and as such, I'm blaming a large part of that on the PSP hardware itself, but even with that as a given, Rebound's load times are b-a-d, which really hurts a game that's otherwise perfectly designed for pick-up-and-play, portable-friendly action.
There are a few new multiplayer modes, namely Mucho Juice, a crazy, unlimited-turbo-type of game, and Great Balls of Fire, where every player can hit from almost anywhere on the court. Unfortunately, these modes are for Ad Hoc (local) play only (internet play is not available), but they're a welcome addition, nonetheless.
If you've never played the original NBA Ballers, then NBA Ballers: Rebound will provide you with a good deal of entertainment, as the stylish and fun game still holds up quite well.
However, if you have played the original, then Rebound will likely feel a bit stale, a bit empty, and more than a bit slow.