NFL and NBA games must return to the streets

The early 2000s were a rich time for NFL and NBA games. Titles like Madden, NFL Blitz Pro, NBA 2K, ESPN NFL Football 2K, NFL Fever, NBA Live and NFL GameDay have overflowed store shelves. But there was a catch: Every game outside of NFL Blitz Pro was a simulation-style sports game, providing realistic versions of games played on hardwood and the grill. Which was good, but the number of arcade-style games was pretty tight, especially on the basketball side.

Then, in 2001, EA Sports Big released NBA Street, a game that was the first of its kind when it came to NBA licensed games. The in-game NBA rosters consisted of five players — each with different stats — and you had to decide which ones would compete in a 3-on-3 version of 21, a full-contact street basketball variation. Each match was played on various street courts, including the famous Rucker Park in New York.


During play, players could perform stunning streetball moves including dunks, layups, and crossovers. Each move earned you points that filled a meter. When that meter was full, you unlocked a scoring move called Gamebreaker, which not only added to your score, but also subtracted points from your opponent’s score – later games allowed you to collect Gamebreakers to perform more exotic plays that would deduct even more from your score. opponent’s score.

The Gamebreaker feature was so popular that EA brought it to NFL Street in 2004. NFL Street’s version of Gamebreaker temporarily turned your comeback into Tecmo Bowl’s Bo Jackson, making them impossible to approach, and it also allowed defenders to fire the opposing quarterback. faster and cause more fumbling. There were no out of bounds, as the game replaced sidelines with walls players could be knocked into – think Arena Football but outside and with more pizzazz. Matches consisted of 7-on-7 football that lasted until someone scored 36 points.

These games featured a mini-renaissance in arcade-style sports gaming, but that was short-lived, with the final iterations coming in 2006 with NFL Street 3 and NBA Homecourt in 2007. Well, 15 years later, I think it’s high time for EA to take to the streets again and bring these titles back to life. EA hasn’t released an NBA Live game since 2018 and Madden is nothing more than a $70 roster update with old features considered new. By bringing new life to Street titles, EA could be giving sports gamers a welcome break from simulation-style sports games, which seem to deliver diminishing returns to gamers year after year.

Winning multiple championships and rebuilding lineups is one thing, but the feeling of throwing a touchdown pass 40 yards behind the back or unleashing a sleek, multi-pass dunk to end a game is unmatched. NFL Street was the real Iron-Man football, where players played both offense and defense. Your quarterback may have a cannon for an arm, but if he’s slow, putting him in retreating coverage will make throwing in the middle of the field a delight for the opposing offense.

Both games had unique game modes. NBA Street Vol. 2 had Be A Legend where you could create your own player and earn field credit by playing pickup games. This allowed you to unlock jerseys, Street Court legends like Stretch – which graced the cover of the first game – new courts, and more. NBA Homecourt had a mode called Gamebreaker Battle, where points were only scored using Gamebreakers. NFL Street has followed suit by allowing you to create your own team and logo while giving you the awesome ability to unlock multiple stadiums, players and more.

These games had no rules on how you could play outside of the team structure and they were big sellers. The first NBA Street sold 1.7 million copies, while NFL Street sold 950,000 copies. They helped create another avenue for sports games and what they could be. We’ve seen a glimpse of this before with the Backyard Sports series that started in the late 90s, and NBA Street and NFL Street have improved on that by adding 3D graphics and using real – albeit abbreviated – NFL rosters. and NBA.

EA Sports BIG has brought the schoolyard style of these indoor sports to the masses, showing a more experimental side to the sports simulation studio. Arcade-style sports games allow for more creativity for both developers and players. Your only limit is your imagination, and the moves you could string together in these games made you feel like a mad scientist with a ball in your hands, and the pitch and terrain acting as your blackboards.

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