NBA Playgrounds is an arcade basketball game out now on Nintendo Switch. It offers two versus two basketball matches with any combination of your favourite players.
You unlock new players by opening card packs, earned by levelling up. Your players also level up when used in matches, increasing their abilities.
And there's little much else to it. You're going to have to really love basketball or the mechanics on offer here to get anything out of NBA Playgrounds.
Who's got a match?
This isn't a realistic basketball game. Players have huge bobbleheads, jump ridiculous heights, and gain a power-up after scoring a few times or performing tricks.
The controls are quite intensive though. I'm not a fan so don't know an awful lot about basketball, and as a result it took me a while to get used to the controls. They're not very intuitive.
If you're like me and don't really know what's going on, your first few matches will likely be a fumbling mess as you pass the ball about and desperately try to grab some points.
That's easier said than done though. To score, you have to press and hold Y, releasing at exactly the right moment to get the right combination of power and accuracy.
It's a fine system, but one that could really do with some visual feedback. More often than not I was left wondering exactly why my shot missed or went in. A bar with a green bit in the middle to aim for would help beginners immeasurably.
What's going on?
And that's a problem that infects the entire experience - you're never quite sure what's going on. Why did that your swipe miss the ball that time? What do the power-ups actually do? How do you trigger them?
Sure, you can extensively read the controls until they're second nature, but that's no fun at all. It's also possible that you might get it faster if you're already a fan of basketball, but what about the rest of us?
There's also very little to the experience generally. You can play exhibition matches against a the AI or a friend, or take part in tournaments. Both play exactly the same, except one unlocks new courts to play exhibition mode in.
You can't even play online, which would be quite a big draw. I get the feeling the real highlight of this experience is multiplayer, with you and a friend working in unison to perform some feats of skill.
The controls are there to allow that, but unless you have a friend or two near you, that entire portion of the game is inaccessible until multiplayer gets patched in.
He shoots he scores?
NBA Playgrounds just feels like a half-baked experience that's lacking in content and essential features. It's also no fun to play unless you know what you're doing, which requires extensive staring at the control scheme until it's burned onto your brain.
If you're a huge fan of basketball, or have friends close by to play multiplayer with, you might just get a kick out of it. But the general lack of content will drive you away from it sooner or later.
Just wait until NBA 2k18 comes to Switch if you're hankering for some basketball. We really can't recommend this in the current state it's in.