During my youth, the NBA Jam series was one of my favorite things to play-I owned multiple iterations on both the Super NES and Nintendo 64 (shout to the mom for all those trips to EB games and Babbage’s to look for copies). The fast-paced, arcade-style action was something this 10-year old LilBro was drawn to and it’s been something near and dear to my heart since then. Some additional background on your Bro: Counter-Strike Source was the first (and for a long time, only) PC game I played…which is probably why I’m not big on shooters anymore. Regardless, I give you this in-depth personal background on your Bro so this comparison doesn’t sound too far-fetched: Dunk Lords is the perfect combination of NBA Jam meets Counter-Strike, and while that comparison may raise an eyebrow or two, believe me when I say if you’re a fan of arcade-style basketball action, this game needs to be on your radar. I was fortunate enough to play this title at PAX West 2017, and it’s easily one of my most anticipated titles of 2018.
The core gameplay mechanics of Dunk Lords will be immediately familiar to anyone who’s played the NBA Jam or NBA Street series. Fast-paced, super-power fueled basketball action is sure to entertain gamers of all ilks, not only sports-sim fanatics. There are numerous power-ups, special abilities and skills at a player’s disposal for both offensive and defensive purposes. One of the matches I played had the opposition dropping a chain-link fence sporadically to deter long range shots. To counter, I used my player’s special ability of turning young (as my character was an older Bro) and temporarily zipping around the court with increased agility. The abilities create a strategy akin to rock-paper-scissors, and the using them at the correct time can mean the difference between stacking up tons of points in quick succession, or putting a quick end to an opposing team’s run.
The bright and airy animation style is slick and inviting. The color-scheme borders on bombastic when super-powers are used, however the animations never feel too over-the-top or annoying. On the contrary-the animations feel extremely appropriate to the title and are quite inviting. Each character model is distinct with a signature look. The aesthetics of each team coupled with unique power-set makes each team feel unique, and no two players look, feel or play the same.
And now for the moment you’ve been waiting for…the Counter-Strike comparison. One of the most unique aspects of CS is the ability to purchase equipment prior to each round. Dunk Lords takes this idea and implements it in between quarters. Currency is earned based off gameplay, with the largest dividends distributed for over-the-top dunks successfully completed (as there’s always the possibility the opposition may deter you). The various types of equipment you can purchase provides different types of boosts to skills and abilities, and add a layer of both customization and strategy to the experience.
Dunk Lords is a classic arcade-style basketball title with an added layer of customization and strategy. The game is easy to pick up and understand, has a retro-inspired-but-distinctly-modern animation style and seems like an ideal candidate for couch co-op gaming sessions. I discovered Dunk Lords while walking the Indie Megabooth at PAX West and it’s quickly become one of the main games I’m looking forward to.