NBA Playgrounds Logo

NBA Playgrounds is an example of a game trying to be something it’s not. This game wants to be NBA Jam but adds in bad things like awkward shooting mechanics and senseless loot boxes.

On my quest to play 52 Games in a year in 2018 has been rough so far. I wanted something easy to pick up and play and thought I had found it. NBA Playgrounds should have been a slam dunk. Sadly, it seems that trying to make a modern version of NBA Jam ended up being a loot box ridden progression with mechanics that are not pick up and play friendly.

Maybe I expected the wrong thing with NBA Playgrounds. With this being on Xbox Game Pass I figured whats the worst that could happen? The trailer and stylized graphics made it seem like a modern NBA Jam. As a long time NBA Jam fan who has played literally hundreds of games, I was really confused about why this game is built in the fashion it is. The loot boxes being the first thing I saw in the game made me lost interest almost immediately. The fact that I couldn’t just pick a team and go was baffling.

Instead, I am given players I can add to my roster and choose from my available players before a match. The problem is I have no idea who any of these players are. I know the big names but I am not someone who knows the sport in depth. So unless I drop a ton of time into getting these random booster packs to strengthen my list of players, I am forced to try and fight my way through with subpar players.

This wouldn’t be an issue if NBA Playgrounds played better. Everything including the NBA Jam style announcer feels flat. The delivery of mechanics and commentary missed the mark. The shot meter sounds pretty straightforward. Hold the shot button till the bar reaches the green area and let go. Except there seems to be something I am missing with this mechanic because I couldn’t hit any shot even when the reticule was in the green. I have no idea what I am doing wrong.

Ultimately, I can’t recommend NBA Playgrounds on any level. While it looks good visually, for the most part, the gameplay and loot boxes just ruin the experience.

 

Celeste

Celeste might be the deal of 2018 at only $20. This is a great no holds barred platformer that doesn’t hold your hand.

My sixth game out of fifty-two is Celeste. I was looking for a new game to play on my Nintendo Switch. I had heard many positive reviews for Celeste and at only $20 I had to give it a shit. So get your hiking boots read, and meet me in Canada so we can reach the top of this challenging adventure.

I’m really enjoying this game, and I have nothing but positive praise for it. First off I’m really liking the story in Celeste. You play as an anxious Madeline, who is dealing with internal stress. Yet she has a goal that she must complete, to reach the top of mount Celeste. As you play you learn about the hardships and personal struggle that Madeline faces. Which just motivates me more to climb this mountain to help her reach her goal and overcomes her fears. I feel like she is a really relatable character. Also to mention that climbing this mountain is a near impossible feat, and brings the worse out of you.

You climb this mountain by completing side-scrolling platform puzzles. Puzzles and gameplay that is similar to the Boshy series or Super Meat Boy. And yes they are pretty challenging. Which is interesting to say because the controls are very basic. You jump, dash, and climb your way through the puzzles. It’s really fun to analyze the puzzle and has a great sense of accomplishment when you solve it. Especially when you collect the difficult to reach strawberries optional rooms. Also to mention the visual and music are really amazing in this game. The game runs really smooth for being a bit style game. And the music gives you that lonely but also beautiful sound as you climb the mountain.

Overall I have really enjoyed my gaming experience with Celeste. And it is a great deal priced at twenty bucks. It’s definitely a fun and exciting adventure that gives you a great feeling of accomplishment. To me, the big difference between Celeste and the other similar genre games is the story. It really makes you care for Madeline. Which motives me more to climb mount, Celeste. So do you dare to climb the mountain?