The Game: It’s a one-on-one hardwood hoedown as two players control tank-topped, gym-socked hoops stars in an effort to bank the most baskets. Whoever buckets the most balls by the end of the game’s preset timer wins. (Atari, 1979)
Memories: Since the previous year’s Football lost its quarter-eating steam after the end of football season, Atari decided to take a swipe at other popular American sports. Taking another cue from Football, Basketball used the trakball controller – two of them, actually, meaning the cabinets took a real beating in arcades. The result was a simple enough one-on-one game – something which had been done as early as 1974 by Midway, Atari’s chief U.S. competitor – though this was the first time basketball had gone 3-D, courtesy of four simple diagonal lines.
Amazingly enough, this 3-D effect was replicated, though even more primitively, in the Atari VCS adaptation of Basketball – and this means that it scored the additional free throw of being the first 3-D representation of a basketball court in a home video game as well.
NBA Jam it isn’t, but Atari’s Basketball remains both a milestone video game – and a fun one.