|The title is something like "Kunio's Hot-Blooded Collection."|
This is a combo port of two Famicom "Hot-Blooded" games from Technos Japan: "Nekketsu Koukou Dodge Ball Bu" (aka "Super Dodge Ball") and "Nekketsu Street Basket: Ganbare Dunk Heroes." The games simply run on a GBA Famicom emulator (word has it that one of the developers sent a thank-you mail to the creator of one of the popular GBA NES emus), and scale the graphics down on the fly, so you get a lot of vertical line shimmer, although this is lessened if you play on the Game Boy Player (see entry 86), since it fuzzes the lines a bit on its own. There's also some sound popping.
The Famicom/NES rendition of Super Dodge Ball is simply one of the best video games ever; there's something about the combination of goofy-looking 8-bit sprites, ridiculous schoolyard violence, impeccable action timing, and great sound effects, that has just never really been equalled, even in many later remakes. The original had horrible slowdown and sprite flicker, and it's all captured here--maybe even worse than ever. But man, I love this game, and I'd never even dared to dream that it would get an official GBA port (by or authorized by Million, holders of the Technos Japan properties, and maker of the recent GBA River City Ransom (see entry 538), Double Dragon (see entry 353), and Super Dodge Ball (see entry 273) ports... Although actually I'm not sure how involved they were in the last one).
Dunk Heroes came much later in the Famicom's life, and although it boasts a much more consistent framerate, and less flicker, not to mention more complex graphics, its gameplay is somewhat spastic: your two-on-two basketballers have Punch and Kick actions, and just lay into each other without pause. This can get a bit old. The most frustrating thing, though, is that the camera lets your dude get way offscreen, especially when a shot on one of the higher baskets is being taken (yes, each side has multiple tiers of baskets, one above the other, worth increasing points). So there's no real chance of rebounding, and you just have to stand wherever you think you are, mashing the attack button until the camera and ball come back down. Meanwhile, the CPU team has probably knocked you on your can about five times. Also annoying is how if you're facing the wrong way when you push the shot button, you shoot at the other team's basket. Oh, and how some teams have really irritating teleport powers: the NASA team, for instance, can teleport up to the ball as it bounces off the hoop, grab it, and fling it down to their end of the court. ARgh.
And yet, the game is growing on me. It's hard to make a good shot, much less a charged super shot, and the frenetic button-mashing scrum action has a certain messy appeal.
Both of the games support multiplayer via link cable, up to four players. I haven't had a chance to try that yet, but I know that you can lock the thing up with this really unpleasant squealing sound if you try doing 2P with a GBA that doesn't have its own cart (each player needs to have a copy of the game in their GBA). The linkup menu that I've seen so far is pretty ugly.
Man, I love SDB. I'm really looking forward to the other two carts in this collection, even though I suppose that none of them will probably hold that special place in my small withered heart that SDB does.
|Picking up the ball still confuses me in Street Basket: sometimes your character picks it up automatically just by moving over it, but sometimes they don't. If you press the button to pick it up, but then they've just picked it up on their own, you end up flinging the ball downcourt accidentally.|
My CPU partner is always quicker to react to what's going on, so usually I just end up running interference for him while he goes for easy shots. The only problem with this is that he doesn't take big money shots at the upper hoops very often. I wonder if there's a way to change that? You can choose several formations, including keeping him in the back court, but I don't know if you can change his actual shot selection.