Fox College Hoops ’99 – Review

Fox College Hoops ’99

(Nintendo 64)
by Eric Johnson

If there’s one attribute crucial to the success of any sports game, it’s fluidity of movement. Without it, no amount of depth or detail can salvage a title from the depths of despair. Fox College Hoops ’99 would be a fine middle-tier basketball game but ultimately fails because the character movement is sloppy, choppy, and slow. Although a great deal of effort was put into imitating the look and feel of a FOX-SPORTS televised broadcast, the flashy robotic arm scoreboard and cinematic instant-replay editing only serve to draw attention to the disfigured marionettes running around the court. The grotesquely-rendered players move as if dancing in front of a strobe light, their gesticulating limbs bending in ways that would make a professional contortionist cringe. If anything, movement is the cardinal sin of this title, and no amount of cool features can compensate for this problem. Taking into consideration the fact that many titles release new additions each subsequent year, the opportunity to improve the game mechanics for Fox College Hoops 2000 should be taken advantage of.

Aside from that, the most fundamental problem, Fox College Hoops is basic, straightforward college basketball. The rather simple controls are set up so fairly complex plays can take place on the fly. Faking shots, intentional fouls, and changes in defensive setup can take place using one, or a series of buttons; all fairly standard issue stuff and instinctive once gotten used to. Playing the computer can be done on a number of skill levels, but there is no option to turn off all fouls and play as rough as possible. Computer skill, however, is irrelevant since the majority of matches will take place between friends who like to take turns beating the piss out of each other. The number of available teams is staggering, with every NCAA Division One school represented, each exhibiting the relative strengths and weaknesses of their real life counterparts; resulting in a makeshift handicapping system where a more skilled player can choose a less skilled team to even the odds. The camera can be set to follow whoever is in possession of the ball or to stick with the more static sideways angle; the game has a huge problem keeping up with the follow cam, making it unplayable in this setting.

Although simplicity becomes a sports game, there is a bizarre lack of features separating this game from what must be half a dozen other basketball titles on the market at any given time. There is no practice mode, two on two, gambling scandal, or player suspension due to bad grades to keep you interested. It all becomes very boring, very quickly, and without any additional attraction, this game is doomed to collect dust. It seems like there are times when a company puts out a mediocre product, relying upon the confused and misled gift buyer to accumulate sales, this is one of them. “My son likes basketball!!! Is this one good?”