Sports games have always been a staple of video gaming. In fact, in the earliest days of the medium, they were a good source of basic rules and mechanics for designers to rely on.
Basketball for Atari 2600 was a noteworthy example of one of these early sports games for being an early title that didn’t require two human players. In fact, the single-player mode even claimed to offer an adaptive difficulty of sorts, with the computer player supposedly playing “better” if the scores were closer.
In practice, this mostly equates to the computer player running the wrong direction if he’s winning too much, but it was 1978… give them a bit of credit!
Basketball is another sport I know next to nothing about, but I know more about it than I do baseball, in that I understand how to win and what the players on the court are actually supposed to do. Therefore, I am much better equipped to comment on Atari Basketball than I was for Atari Baseball.
Atari Basketball is a simple one-on-one affair in which you and another player or the computer square off against one another and try to score more baskets than the other. That’s… pretty much it, really, but there’s something about this game that makes it surprisingly addictive.
I think it’s the controls — the original arcade machine made use of a trackball controller, which translates quite well to modern analogue devices. I can imagine a game against another human opponent getting rather frantic when standing up against the original machine — but it’s still fun here when played on the sofa with a wireless controller, or even on the go with the Switch in handheld mode.