Since my team isn't in the playoffs this year (next season, Knicks fans!), I've had to sate my basketball jones by watching some of the sworn enemies of NYC... shame, too, as this Boston-Chicago series is unbelievable. Four out of six games going to OT? I mean, c'mon. Anyway, just in time for the race to the championship, Freeverse's Flick NBA Basketball is shipping for the iPhone and iPod touch.
The game combines several "All-Star Saturday Night" staples, including a 3-point shootout, H.O.R.S.E, and a long shot competition, along with a pop-a-shot machine and a finger spin mini-game. While the 1.0 build currently on the store is marred by some crashing bugs and overly challenging (at least, to my middle-aged fingers) shooting mechanics, the submitted & soon-to-arrive 1.1 version improves stability and gameplay. There's also a big additional feature coming in the 1.2 update, date TBA: dunking! We've got an exclusive video demo of the dunk UI in the 2nd half of this post.
Of course, the big thrill of Flick NBA is the NBA part -- Freeverse has licensed pro player likenesses and team uniforms, giving players the choice of competing as Chris Paul, Shaquille O'Neal or other pros from all the NBA teams, 30 in total. If you've ever wanted to try your skills on the court as Yao Ming or Dirk Nowitzki, here's your chance. It's not clear if the individual players have unique skill levels, but it's still a thrill to pick your pro and hit the court. The 3D quality, audio and arena graphics are all excellent; it's still a pleasant surprise to see playable 3D on the iPhone screen.
The individual game modes vary in challenge level and enjoyability; in my play testing, I enjoyed the 3-point shooting contest the most, as you can start to get into a 'zone' as you round the ball racks. The 1.0 implementation of H.O.R.S.E. was too difficult to be much fun, but the 1.1 update ratcheted down the shot control speeds a bit and I felt more competitive with my computer opponent (you can also play against a human in Vs. mode). Surprisingly, the pop-a-shot minigame is actually a lot of fun, and the 1.1 update improves the ability to grab balls at the bottom of the ramp without having them collide with other ones rolling back from the basket. The long shot and ball spin minigames were less sticky for me -- the long shot contest is still tough enough to make it frustrating even after a few practice rounds.
For $4.99 in the App Store, Flick NBA Basketball provides a good mix of playability and 'wow, check it out' value. While it's not the head-to-head game sim you might wish for in an NBA title, it's still fun (and more stable with the forthcoming 1.1 update, live in the store as soon as Apple clears it). With the 1.2 and future updates adding dunks and more modes, you'll be getting even more b-ball value for your purchase.
See our screenshot gallery below, and the dunk UI video in the 2nd half of the post.