|Well, I can't really recommend this one.|
I picked it up because I liked developer Jordan's previous b-ball game, "The Basket" for PS1 (entry 15). That game has rather nice graphics for PS1, wild power moves, funky rock-paper-scissors defense, and a funky vide. Baskelian, however, has less vibe, at least in the beginning.
It took me about an hour to figure out how to get to a basketball game. When you start out, you're just running around this crazy grid and you have to skip through an annoying little story bit, then you end up back on the grid after stumbling through some kanji/hiragana load dialogues (you MUST have a memory card in order to play :p).
After that comes the trick. You have to go into the "boss house," select the "Imagine" option, and enter in the name "Hugo" in katakana. Then you can magically go play basketball. Otherwise all you can do is hang around in the house (the first two house menu options let you take a bath or lie on the couch... whee) or visit your card collection, which at that point has a whopping one card. I figured out that I had to enter "Hugo" when I desperately began entering all the katakana words that I could find printed on the card. If it had been hiragana I would have been screwed.
So once you cry Hugo you can do Baskelian Mode, Vs Mode, or One on One. You have very few controls during a basketball game: shoot or pass, pretty much, and steal or block on defense, and hold R1 to dash. The players move like really slowly unless they're dashing, and they tend to get tired and unable to dash after a few minutes each quarter. If you can't dash you can't really get around the defender, so you have to pass.
Once you pass you're pretty much done with that possession, because your teammates aren't generally inclined to pass it back to you. So the strategy as far as I can tell so far comes down to using your limited dash energy to get in some dunks when you need to, otherwise conserve your energy and look for the open teammate near the basket. It's rather slow paced and takes some getting used to but once you notice the strategic passing element it gets a little interesting.
Some players, however, can't make an open four-foot jumper to save their life. So passing (at least with my team, the Gerbils) is an iffy proposition in the best event, and passes are intercepted with alarming frequency. So are shots, for that matter. At least the bizarre character designs don't give you any initial illusions as to the skill level of your teammates.
Once you build up a power meter of sorts by... uh... playing good?... you can do a power shot, which basically seems to mean you can make one shot from anywhere on court, guaranteed, by pressing X.
So. I kind of like how the game forces you to give up the ball and rely on your teammates--if only they didn't suck. I managed to win my second game by the skin of my teeth though so currently I'm enjoying the buzz of success. Still, it's surprisingly slow-paced, load times (it's on CD-ROM rather than DVD) are terrible, there's horrible slowdown if the camera happens to get behind the backboard during a side switch, the graphics are PS1 quality, and the menus are criminally ridiculous. In a way I find the silly design decisions endearing and I'm happy to have found the magic "Hugo" word that unlocks the gameplay for some reason, but I can't really recommend that anyone else shell out money for this.