NBA Give ‘N Go (SNES)

Pub: Konami | Dev: KCEO | Nov. '95 | 16 MEGS
Pub: Konami | Dev: KCEO | Nov. ’95 | 16 MEGS

One of the thrills of growing up during the mid ’90s were all the awesome arcade games just waiting for you to plop a quarter in. And the longing hopes and dreams that one day soon the spirit and essence of your favorite arcade title would receive a respectable enough translation on your 16-bit console of choice. They never captured the arcade original perfectly, but the best ports brought home a piece of the arcade. Sometimes you didn’t have to wait very long. Other times, it would be years later. Such was the case for NBA Give ‘N Go. Was it worth the wait? Strap on your squeaky sneakers and let’s take a look.

BEFORE THERE WAS NBA JAM…

THE arcade game for basketball junkies
THE arcade game for basketball junkies

… there was Run ‘N Gun. It was loud, in your face and full of that early-mid ’90s arcade wonder. Walk into any arcade hall more than 20 years ago and you would be bombarded by dazzling lights and ear-crunching sound effects all vying for your quarter’s attention. Right in the thick of the Golden Fighting Game era, Konami released a basketball game that emphasized action and fun over strategy and simulation (although it certainly had some of that too, especially when compared to NBA Jam). My brother, friends and I immediately fell in love with it. And we were counting down the days until it would be ported over for either the Sega Genesis or the Super Nintendo. Our wish came true but unfortunately, no sooner than two plus years later.

Nothing like throwing down a monster jam
Nothing like throwing down a monster jam
The rich bold colors captivated me
The rich bold colors captivated me

My brother was a huge basketball nut back in 1993. Me? The sport was OK. I liked it reasonably well enough, but I didn’t go out of my way to catch the games when it came across the ol’ telly. To be honest, at 10 years old I was far more interested in playing video games or watching WWF wrestling. But my perspective on the game of basketball all took a turn on one particularly fateful day…

MEMORIAL DAY MIRACLE

The day I became a basketball lover for life
The day I became a basketball lover for life

Monday, May 29, 1995 is a day I’ll never forget. Hard to believe the other day marked 21 years since that fateful day…

It was Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals which pitted the young uprising Orlando Magic vs. the Indiana Pacers. I was at the local mall walking past Radio Shack when I saw they had the game playing on 10 TV screens. There were 3 people standing there, watching in angst and talking in-between plays. I joined, making it a crowd of 4. The game was in the final 3 minutes, and as the drama unfolded, the crowd steadily grew from 4 to 8 to 12. Even the employees stopped what they were doing and joined our huddle.

These are the moments you live for as a sports fan (as I would come to find out), and to boot it was one of the greatest finishes EVER in NBA playoff history.

With under 15 seconds to go, this improbable sequence took place:

  • Brian Shaw’s 3 pointer gave the Magic the 1 point lead
  • Reggie Miller answered with one of his own, putting the Pacers back up by 2 causing the Indiana crowd to erupt in a frenzy
  • Mere seconds later the player many then believed would carry Jordan’s torch as well as the NBA into the new millennium, Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway, nailed a dramatic heart breaking 3, giving the Magic a 1 point lead with 1.3 seconds to go. It left the sold out capacity crowd in stunned silence
Penny in his prime was something special
Penny in his prime was something special

As the game went to its final commercial break there was a deafening buzz within Radio Shack’s small confines. I was right in the middle of it and the raw adrenaline was indescribable. I felt like I was at the game myself!

To this day I still can hear that classic NBA on NBC theme, being played on no less than TEN television monitors, in full blast stereo reverberating throughout the store and the entire mall itself. It’s one of those vivid childhood memories that haunts me to the core… even 21 years later.

Suddenly we were no longer just a bunch of strangers, no. This playoff basketball game magically banded us together. We were basketball fans, enjoying and living up the moment.

I saw basketball in a new light — the likes of which I hadn’t seen before. There was strategy, there were tactics. Beyond that, I started appreciating the concept of teamwork and five different people of varying size and skills working as one well oiled machine.

That day I developed a much deeper appreciation for basketball. It’s the moment I became a fan for life.

Fakes... shoots... HE HITS HE HITS HE HITS!!!
“Fakes, shoots and — HE HITS HE HITS!!”

Down 1 with 1.3 seconds left, the ball made its way to the dunking Dutchman, Rik Smits. He faked, shot and the ball ripped nothing but net as the buzzer sounded off. The place became unglued and the roof blew off. Radio Shack’s walls were shaking as we all screamed, jumping up and down in pure disbelief at what we had just witnessed on the 10 TV monitors that stood before us.

I was only 11 years old while everyone else around me in the store was probably 20 or older. Those 15 minutes or so catching the 4th quarter and cheering and booing madly at the TV screen with a bunch of folks I never met before… PRICELESS. I remember on the car ride home in the backseat I kept replaying the events in my head… thinking to myself that that was the coolest thing that ever happened to me so far in my young life. Ha! But the moment was nothing short of magic.

I think back 21  years ago… part of me can’t believe it, you know. It was the best NBA Playoff game I ever saw, and to this day, I have not seen a game better or more dramatic than the one that occurred on May 29, 1995 — the Memorial Day Miracle.

Memorial Day Miracle 2.0...
Memorial Day Miracle 2.0… nothing like witnessing heroics and an arena erupting

Yesterday brought back some goosebumps and fond memories for me… as the Golden State Warriors battled the Oklahoma City Thunder in a decisive Game 7… also on Memorial Day. 21 years later ALMOST TO THE DAY… it was a miracle that the Warriors were able to storm back and push the series to a 7th and final game, as they were down 3-1 but not only down — they looked completely out of it. Somehow, they dug deep and Steph Curry and Klay Thompson knocked down some ridiculous 3 point shots. It was a nice dramatic game but the Warriors eventually won 96-88. It’s hard to compare it to the Pacers-Magic game 21 years ago, but it certainly was special in its own unique way.

I just wish they would bring back that classic NBA theme regardless of which station the games emanate from. There’s nothing comparable to John Tesh’s amazing Roundball Rock score!

HOOP IT UP

Why not try the Konami code here?
Why not try the Konami code here?
Up, up, down, down...
Up, up, down, down…
Gonna replicate the Memorial Day Miracle from '95
Gonna replicate the Memorial Day Miracle from ’95

All NBA teams and players are here, including that year’s All-Star selections. The Shooting Stars and Supreme Team are five player teams that consist of the best five players from each conference. Think of it as a Dream Team. You can also edit it to form your own fantasy team. More on this later.

Find out who's hot and who's not tonight
Find out who’s hot and who’s not tonight

Give ‘N Go has an interesting quirk where players are rated per stars. Three max. This changes from game to game randomly. It basically indicates how the player is “feeling” that game. The more stars, the higher chance he’ll have at making baskets. It’s a unique feature that factors in the “human” element of players’ feelings on a game by game basis. You can still have a good game with a guy who has zero stars, but it’s tougher. Hey, maybe his wife cheated on him that day, who knows! Like a box of chocolate, ya never know what you might get.

Hoping to see lots of stars was just part of the fun
This is an example of a time you want to see stars

I can’t think of any other 16-bit basketball game that gauges how a player is feeling on a game-to-game basis. It’s fun firing the game up and hoping to see many stars across the board. As it was randomly generated game by game, it added an extra element of spice.

Sometimes it would spur me to sit a starter for a bench player — say if the starter had zero stars and the capable bench player was feeling particularly spry with three stars. Good stuff.

C'mon, you know it's coming. Oh yeah...
C’mon, you know it’s coming. Oh yeah…
MODE 7 MADNESS!!!
MODE 7 MADNESS!!! *Monster Truck Voice Guy*
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…
The game nails it in the presentation department
The game nails it in the presentation department

Miller is cocked and ready to shoot [That's what she said -Ed.]
Miller, cocked, ready to shoot! That came out wrong
You gotta love how big the players are. There’s a nice ‘thickness’ to them [That’s what she said -Ed.] and they really do look like the actual stars themselves. Can you tell that’s Reggie Miller there? Quite easily, I’d wager. Look at the defensive stance of that bloke over there — very realistic eh? One hand guards the ball, the other guards the passing lane. Hey, I aced Beginning and Intermediate Basketball in my day, ya know? Picked up a few tricks along the way ;)

If it's Reggie, it's good. It's Miller Time
If it’s Reggie, it’s good. It’s Miller Time

“JUMP, YA BUM!”

Miller soars up with the greatest of ease as Nick Anderson is caught with sand in his shoes. Great visuals, eh? Now this is basketball! Player mechanics are accurately mimicked.

Nothing like the dramatic bounce of the ball...
Nothing like the dramatic bounce of the ball…
Gotta love those lucky bounces :)
Gotta love those lucky bounces :)
Run back to your invisible bench and coach
Run back to your invisible bench and coach
"The Pacers have to do a better job of converting those dunks"
“Pacers have to do a better job converting those dunks.”

“And after one it’s a real tight ball game we have here today, Bob.”

“Indeed. If this is a sign of things to come, fans I hope you’re all strapped in — it’s gonna be one heck of a ride!”

“What a great first quarter of action, Bob.”

“Can’t ask for much more on this beautiful Memorial Day, 1995!”

“It just may come down to a buzzer beating last second shot for one of these teams…”

Will the "Dunking Dutchman" live up to his name?
Will the “Dunking Dutchman” live up to his name?
Perhaps next time, then
Perhaps next time, then
Never know what these players are thinking or saying during the course of a game!
Never know what they’re thinking during the game
"THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS YOU!!"
“THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS YOU!!”

GiveNGo28

Pacers really surged ahead in that 2nd quarter
Pacers really surged ahead in that 2nd quarter
Speed depends on the player's actual FT % from that NBA season
Speed depends on the player’s free throw %
Damn, times are tougher than I thought!
Damn, times are tougher than I thought!
Not quite the Memorial Day Miracle barn burner, eh?
Not quite the Memorial Day Miracle barn burner, eh?

Life is like a hurricane
HERE IN… Duckburg
Race cars, lasers, airplanes
It’s a… DUCK BLUR
Might solve a mystery…
Or rewrite history!

DUCK TALES!

Ahem, sorry… [You’re fired -Ed.]

Love seeing the stats at the end. Sorry no Shaq
Love seeing the stats at the end. Sorry no Shaq
A solid all-around team performance, with Miller leading the charge
Everyone contributed, with Miller leading the charge

NEAT STUFF

NBA Give 'N Go_00009

Nothing humbles the opposition quite like a big time block. I love how that one Magic player is running back up the other side of the court… thinking his teammate has got the basket. Uh, I’ve got something to say about that…

This must be awkward...
This must be awkward…
"BALLS!"
“BALLS!”

NBA Give 'N Go_00000

Thankfully, NBA Give ‘N Go gives players an option. When going for a slam dunk, you can press the shoot button to change the dunk animation into a layup midway through!

Very handy indeed
Very handy indeed

It keeps the opposition honest, and because the game is so block friendly, this scoring alternative is a God send, especially in two player games with a buddy.

Pump fake...
Pump fake…
Hustle around...
Hustle around…
Cock the ball back...
Cock the ball back…
... and destroy that rim!
… and destroy that rim!
Few things are as satisfying
Few things are as satisfying
Rodman's liable to shoot from right there, the nut!
Rodman is liable to shoot from right there, the nut!

As I said earlier, players look like the real players. Here you see Dennis Rodman in all his crazy madness. Unfortunately though, the game does not account for the size differences. John Stockton is just as tall as Patrick Ewing. Shame about that, but oh well, what can ya do? [Play NBA Jam -Ed.]

Gotta love the Garden
Gotta love the Garden

One of the really neat things about Give ‘N Go is seeing all the different NBA arenas. Though they’re not as unique as, say, baseball parks, some of them definitely have their own sense of history and atmosphere. It’s one thing this game definitely has over any other SNES basketball title, such as the NBA Live and NBA Jam series.

This is my go-to court to play on
This is my go-to court to play on

But my absolute favorite is easily the All-Star court. With its brightly colored court, it just makes it fun to shoot at all odd corners of the floor. I don’t know what it is about that, but on this court, I just love pulling up for 17, 18 foot jump shots. Something about shooting on that solid purple floor is mighty addicting…

The two Dream Teams add some replay value to the game
The two Dream Teams add some extra replay value
Have at it and have it your way
Have at it and have it your way

SOME NOT SO NEAT STUFF

North American owners got gypped!
North American owners got gypped!

Don’t know why but the Japanese version of this game is battery-backed, while the US version received a super crappy password feature to save the regular season games. Talk about absurd — look how long the password is!

"Um... I just got out of the pool. No really!"
“Um… I just got out of the pool. No really!”

HUH! Yep, sometimes players will shrink for a very brief period of time. It doesn’t affect gameplay — at least so far that I’ve been able to witness — it’s more of a sight gag if anything. I guess it’s just the SNES straining from the odd time to time. Give ‘N Go is no Killer Instinct or DOOM in terms of pushing the system to the limits, but it also wasn’t Super Tennis.

Look at the Pacers' 3 point percentage...
Look at the Pacers’ 3 point percentage — 3 for 17?!

It’s easy hitting 3 point shots in the 1st quarter. After that, oddly enough, it becomes hard even if you’re a 3 point specialist like Reggie Miller. Not saying it’s impossible to nail 3 point shots past the 1st quarter — it just becomes much harder. Why this is, I have no idea. But it does put a bit of a damper on the game. See, the Magic hit 1 out of 2, but I kept chucking threes into the 2nd half of the game, and I kept missing them (even with a dead-eye shooter such as Reggie). Not cool.

MORE NEGATIVES

  • - Rim physics aren’t realistic (then again, it IS an arcade game)
  • - Whoever is running down court has a disadvantage. The rim on the bottom half of the court isn’t visible at all times
  • - Stat tracking leaves something to be desired. No assists — what?
  • - Guards are as tall as centers. Those who can’t dunk in real life can dunk in the game
  • - Alley oop system can be abused
  • - Gameplay is not as quick as NBA Jam or NBA Live. It may feel too slow for some folks. Personally, I think it still plays fine in spite of the less-than-stellar speed

MORE POSITIVES

  • + I gotta give PROPS to the announcer. He’s pretty wacky. “REBOUND AND JAAAM!”  (adds to the early-mid ’90s arcade feel of the game)
  • + Speaking of the sound, unlike many basketball games, Give ‘N Go actually incorporates music during the game. I found the upbeat melodies to be pleasant
  • + Visually, the game’s quite ace. Players are huge and easy to make out. Amazing little details like Dennis Rodman’s wild hair and Horace Grant’s goggles give the game a sense of “life” and personality. Plus the NBA courts are nicely detailed
  • + Another praise for the 0 to 3 star rank system. On any given night, any player can be a capable threat. Some nights your star players will feel like superstars. But on other nights however, perhaps your 10th man on the bench is feeling particularly spry. It’s all randomly generated and you never know who’s feeling hot (or not) on any given night. Cool feature if you ask me! It’s nice too that 0 star players can STILL have a big game for you… 3 stars only mean he’s THAT much more capable
  • + Rarely slows down. Impressive considering the size of ten big players running around
  • + Can edit your own Dream Team of stars and scrubs however you like
  • + Menus and game presentation is absolutely top-notch and crisp
  • + It’s RUN ‘N GUN on your SNES! Or at least, halfway close enough. 4-player games rock :)
  • + GameFan gave it scores of 84 and 86%. Super Play rated it 85%

CLOSING THOUGHTS

There's a nice simple charm to this game :)
There’s a nice simple charm to this game :)

I still remember fondly the day I rented this game in late ’95 for me and my brother. Back in the day he always had me rent the games he wanted, but for a change, we both couldn’t wait to play this. We loved it. It was a long wait, but Give ‘N Go did not disappoint. It brought home the large colorful graphics, the squeaky sneakers, massive slam dunks, monster block shots and thrilling games that came right down to the final second. It’s not without flaws though: the game plays slower than other SNES basketball titles. It’s hard to make 3 point shots after the 1st quarter, the alley oop feature can be abused (though easily fixed by agreeing to have a “1 per quarter” limit or so), player sizes are all the same so Stockton can dunk (yeah right!) just as well as Shawn Kemp, and so on. But you know what, this was never the perfect basketball game to begin with. What it was — and as I found out recently — what it *IS*… is a damn fun basketball game with an impeccable arcade-like feel. In many ways I liken it to Super Baseball 2020. Taken for what it was intended to be, it does its job well. I have as much fun with NBA Give ‘N Go today as I did over 20 years ago. Anytime I can say that, that game’s all right by me. It’s not the first basketball title I pull off my shelf to play, but it’s a nice alternative to the NBA Lives and Jams of the world, for sure. Give ‘N Go does an admirable job of bringing the zany arcade experience home.

Can't wait for Warriors-Cavs 2.0!
Can’t wait for Warriors-Cavs 2.0!

Hard for me to believe it’s been 21 years now since that epic Memorial Day playoff game between the Pacers and Magic. It was the game that cemented me as a basketball fan for life. What a mad finish! And what a shot by Rik Smits!  From the classic NBA on NBC tune to the countless strangers huddled around that Radio Shack monitor cheering and booing, it was one hell of a way to kick off the final summer of my preadolescence. Some images, some sounds and some smells stay with you for a lifetime. May 29, 1995 was such a day for me :)

NBA Give ‘N Go is a fond reminder of the good old days. When times and things were a bit simpler. When you could walk into an arcade hall not five blocks from your house, smell the piping hot cheese and have your ears tickled by the innocent laughter of children. Not only is it a nostalgic blast, I find Give ‘N Go still holds up to this day. It plays on the slower side but it’s also presented in a light that makes it stand out compared to any other SNES basketball game. Better late than never? Yes. Or perhaps I should say, “YES SIR!” [Pack yer things -Ed.]

Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 7.5
Gameplay: 7
Longevity: 8.5

Overall: 7.5

Bronze AwardBronze Award

SmitsGWSSmitsGW

2 thoughts on “NBA Give ‘N Go (SNES)”

  1. I found this game on a vlog, and I had to download this. It is what was the closest of the NBA action and now NBA 2k franchise , because the camera, with the back view. Is a little absurd that assists doesn’t count on the stats, but what is an assist? Is hard to explain. Maybe in Japan they doesn’t count this. The logarithm of an assist couldn’t be applied perfectly on this game, but is a lot more fun than NBA live versions to snes or mega drive. And is a sport game, it needs to be fun. Thanks about the explanation about the stars, I used the same roster for 56 games. Entire season! I had no idea that was the clutch of the players. I put the forward player Anthony Mason of the Knicks on Bulls and traded Rodman, that on this game can do a lay up, for Kukoc, to get close of the Bulls that is on the memory of every NBA fan. Without Jordan, but nothing is perfect.. Mugsy can dunk on this game, is so crazy, and good! Great entertainment this game, no doubt!

    1. Heh, yeah, NBA Give ‘N Go is far from perfect, but it’s a fun little game. Check out “Dream Basketball: Dunk & Hoop” for the Super Famicom — I just put out a review for this game yesterday. It’s not perfect either but I love it tons, even more than Give ‘N Go. The 3 on 3 street ball mode is the best!

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