NBA Give ‘n Go is an arcade basketball video game from Konami for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System that was released in late September of 1995. It’s a game that released with relatively little fanfare, and against the competition of next-generation consoles in the SEGA Saturn and the Sony PlayStation. Sadly, video game players missed out on a very good game that came from an equally overlooked arcade title.
Not too many players remember Konami’s Run and Gun arcade game from 1993. It had the unfortunate task of competing for tokens against Midway’s NBA JAM— a game that had full league support and had taken the arcade scene by absolute storm. Unlike JAM, Run and Gun is a five-on-five game that prominently features fierce dunks, alley-oops, and instant replays of big moments. It wasn’t a JAM copycat– it was its own game back then, sharing only the link of being an arcade-style game against a persistent climate of console-based basketball simulations. Run and Gun is a bit heavy on shot-blocking, and three-point success is a bit too low for an arcade game, but those complaints don’t damage the fun. It’s still a blast to play, even if the graphics are a bit dated by modern standards… but finding arcades that have the cabinet is a tough task.
NBA Give ‘n Go is, essentially, a port of the the Run and Gun arcade game; however, it adds many more features, including a full NBA team and player license, Season and Playoff modes, and options to make the games more realistic with appropriate violation and foul calls. Understandably, player animations aren’t as smooth and the sound and music are of somewhat lower quality, but Konami really did a nice job in not only bringing its arcade game home… but adding to it to create an attractive package for many NBA fans.
Like its coin-op cousin, NBA Give ‘n Go on the SNES is fast, action-packed, and addictive. Surprisingly, the rate of blocked shots in this version is even higher. Steal success rates are also a bit high. That being said, these aren’t really problematic. It doesn’t take long to adjust to the style of play that the game sets forth. Turning on foul calls adds a more random element to the experience, as it’s not always obvious where the foul that’s been whistled has been committed. Free throws use an X/Y axis meter which, as usual, requires proper timing to drop the ball through the hoop upon release.
The only major problem with NBA Give ‘n Go is its lack of a battery backup. By 1995, writing down passwords for sports games was an archaic practice. This could have been somewhat forgiven had the game only had an Arcade mode, but implementing Season mode without a battery affected stat tracking and led to lengthy passwords that few players ever wanted to bother writing down. The Japanese version of the game has a battery, however– so it’s a bit frustrating, given how good this is, that Konami decided to cheap out on batteries elsewhere.
Upon further review, NBA Give ‘n Go is worth playing today. Whether playing alone or with friends, the game’s pace and action will hook most players. The play controls are easy to learn, and customization of rules, time per quarter, and difficulty allow the game to be tailored for players of any skill level or interest in the NBA. The dunks are exciting, alley-oops are always awesome, and wins and losses come down to more skill instead of luck (or computer assistance). Basketball may be a crowded genre on the SNES, but this game deserves a position in your starting lineup.
Buyer’s Guide: NBA Give ‘n Go is about $10 for a loose cartridge and about $30 for a complete-in-box (CIB) game. The game is relatively easy to play without instructions.