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NBA Playgrounds isn't as deep as NBA Street or as beautifully simple as NBA Jam, but the gameplay is still well paced and the controls are still tight. It mixes this gameplay with cartoonish qualities and a retro style that fits an arcade basketball game, and earning new packs of random players is always rewarding. That said, I've taken some bad beats from the random power-ups system, and the online options are slimmer than I'd like. But as long as Saber Interactive delivers on its post-release updates, Playgrounds will have enough going for it to keep me coming back for more.
NBA Jam is revived in this spiritual successor, though not everything's quite as you remember it...
Considering legacy brands like NBA Jam and NBA Street are nowhere to be found this generation, NBA Playgrounds is a welcome hoops diversion for sports game fans
Even if Playgrounds' single-player mode lacks the unbridled merriment that makes multiplayer so enjoyable, finally getting the upper hand in a tournament is rewarding and exciting in its own way. But even at its best, Playgrounds doesn't offer enough variety to keep you engaged for long.
NBA Playgrounds stifles any above-the-rim action promised by placing condition after condition on the gameplay
Plus, it allows me to play out my dream scenario of "Kristaps Porzingas being teamed up with someone halfway decent," so that's exciting.
If there's never another arcade-style hoops title for Switch, then Playgrounds certainly meets my bare-minimum needs. It could have been so much more though, and as such I'm hoping Saber Interactive comes back with a fleshed-out second attempt (maybe another sport?) sometime down the road. In the meantime, Playgrounds delivers the outrageous exhibitions you're looking for - just don't expect it to provide much else.
NBA Playgrounds gets so much of the setup right, often reawakening the spirit of the NBA Jam series, but it fumbles some of the finer details with needless complications and lacklustre AI. As a solo experience there are much better ways to spend your money, but when it comes to multiplayer NBA Playgrounds is so very nearly shooting nothing but net.
Despite of having some gameplay issues, NBA Playgrounds is a very entertaining and funny game that will make us play for hours thanks to its 2 vs. 2 matches.
Review in Spanish | Read full review
This is a fully licensed two-on-two NBA arcade title that does most things right. It'll be interesting to see what's in store for fans of the game via updates, patches, and DLC.