Thursday, April 9, 2009

Takin' it to the Hoop


I put off purchasing this game for many years, as I was in no rush to pick up something that, according to numerous reports, is inferior to wrinkled old Double Dribble. Actually, Takin' is essentially a cartoony rendition of DD. As such, it bears little resemblance to real basketball and looks goofy as hell... but really, who cares? It wasn't intended to be a serious basketball sim (you'd be better off with TV Sports Basketball if that's what you're looking for). It's just a fast-paced, carefree game of hoops that plays reasonably well and has amusing character "portraits"; and it demands little in the way of strategy aside from the occasional substitution of players. Taking it for what it is, I had fun with it... for a few minutes.

Then I got annoyed with it. The games run way too long, with no apparent means of shortening them available. The screeching music drives me crazy, even after I set the volume incredibly low. And the worst part of all is the "difficulty curve." Exhibition and early Tournament matches present practically no challenge: you'll be ahead by an insurmountable margin at the end of the first quarter and have to endure three more long periods before finishing up or advancing. But later in the tourney you'll encounter steal-happy opponents who need do little more than graze your players in order to capture the ball. Of course, despite their defensive "skills," the computer-controlled ball handlers still perform foolishly, making it easy to regain possession and transforming the game into a turnover fest. And when your dopey foes finally start to wear down, you'll have no trouble nailing boatloads of successive baskets and taking control of the contest completely. I certainly don't expect realism from the Takin' experience, but these sorts of matches are just plain stupid.

Choose a city to play for and meet the misfits on your club.

Play along and pretend there's some sort of strategy involved in the gameplay.

Dunks and free throws receive the fancy (read: usual) close-up treatment.

You'll be burying the computer and realize an eternity still remains before the final seconds will tick off the clock. Fun.

Halftime "entertainment."

Think the computer needs to make better use of its bench players?

If you're willing to sleepwalk through early-round blowouts and trade innumerable turnovers in the farces that are the later matches, you too can survive the daunting Takin' tournament bracket.

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