NBA Playgrounds on Nintendo Switch a Fun, Flawed Experience
A full review of NBA Playgrounds on Nintendo Switch isn’t currently possible with arguably the games biggest mode being currently unavailable. Without online play, NBA Playgrounds is a fun experience for a few games, but without someone human to play with, the experience becomes pretty dull, pretty quickly.
There isn’t a lot to do in NBA Playgrounds, and deciding what to do from the main menu really isn’t that difficult. At the present, you can either play an exhibition match – which I did ONLY for my first game, and then never again – or begin one of many tournaments. That is the mode I want to focus on.
Tournament Mode is broken down into a number of world wide matches, each with its own theme. Once you’ve completed all 4 of the matches – and hopefully with a gold trophy rating – you will unlock that court for play in other modes. The games themselves feel pretty enjoyable at the beginning, but once you learn that nothing in this game is ever fair, the randomness of some events can become incredibly frustrating. The further you get into the tournaments, the harder the AI becomes, and the more unfair the game seems. The AI power ups – earned by completing any action in the game, with the bar filling up depending on the level of difficulty of the shot – will almost always be better than yours, and when you do finally get one, it seems that the computer AI will enter beast mode on defence, not allowing you to make use of said power up.
When it is working well, however – mostly in two player mode – the game works really well and I thoroughly enjoy my time with it. If you ignore the ability to earn extra points – by scoring the first basket of the game, or executing the perfect shot, which is entirely random it seems – there is an enjoyable, NBA Jam’esque, experience here, that will be fun for long time players and newbies alike.
After completing each game, you will be awarded XP, but for you overall level – which will allow you to unlock and open packs of cards – and XP for the players you are using. Since you are capped at 100 xp per game, leveling up players will take a lot longer than it really should.
Opening packs of basketball players is the only way to add to your roster; currently, there are 5 players from each team available in the game, some which are current to the 2017 NBA season, and others that are considered legends! Like with the Ultimate Team modes in EA Sports titles, this is actually quite fun, and having the ability to play as different players – and some you might have never thought you would play with – is really fun, and allows for a lot of creativity. Each player has stats that will affect aspects of his game, including shooting ability, dunking ability, and defense.
NBA Playgrounds is at its best when played with friends locally or (conceivably) online. Until the online mode is up and functioning, we cannot put a score on this yet. As it stands, what is packaged here can be enjoyable, but at times has been an extreme letdown.