NBA Playgrounds is a Licensed Throwback to Arcade Basketball

Remember when sports games were simply fun?

Sports fans everywhere who enjoy sports games that offer a carefree distraction from the hyper-realistic haven’t had much to celebrate in recent years. Ever since the major sports organizations in the world collectively forgot how to have fun, the studios – mostly EA – who handle official sports games haven’t really been able to churn out ridiculous titles like NFL Blitz or NBA Jam

It’s enough to make you wonder if major sports organizations even care if you have the ability to play as some of the world’s greatest athletes in a consequences free environment where physics are as relevant as the score. Thankfully, there appears to be at least one organization that is ready to feed gamer’s need for absurdity. 

Yes, the NBA has finally decided to let a developer make a game that taps into the spirit of NBA Jam and NBA Street. Specifically, they’ve allowed Saber Interactive to develop NBA Playgrounds; a throwback arcade basketball experience starring modern NBA players and legends. 

No much is known about the actual gameplay, but the developers are promising that the game will feature a variety of insane dunks and maneuvers as well as some more modern features like the ability to level-up your team. Additionally, you’ll be able to play against friends locally or go online to play on a global court. Saber Interactive CEO Matt Karch says that the plan is for Playgrounds to be accessible, but contain “a lot of depth for hardcore pros who’ve mastered their game.”

You can download NBA Playgrounds for $20 on PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, or Xbox One sometime next month. 

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Our thoughts? As great as it is to see this kind of game get some official love in the modern era, there are reasons to be worried that this title might be trying to appeal to too broad of a demographic. As silly as games like NBA Street could be, they were built on genuinely solid mechanics and featured a shocking amount of gameplay depth. If Playgrounds is able to replicate that kind of content, it might prove to be the “simply fun” sports game the industry is in desperate need of. 

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