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College Hoops '99 Preview

Publisher - Fox Interactive
Developer - Z-Axis
Platform - N64
Release Date - October 1998
Type - Sports

-Axis' first N64 basketball game finally has a publisher: Fox Interactive. Note that all screen-shots in this preview still stem from the days when Z-Axis was planning to create an NBA title -- since then, the game has turned into a college basketball game.

"We've gone through one round of the Mario Club review" says an enthusiastic Gordon Bellamy, Creative Director for Z-Axis, "and we'll probably submit to them again in the next couple of weeks."

So what does this ambitious basketball game offer that separates it from Midway's NBA Hangtime or Konami's upcoming In the Zone '98? For starters, it's not an NBA game, but rather the first college-based basketball title for Nintendo 64. And statistics? All that you'll ever need.

But that doesn't mean it won't be any less exciting. Z-Axis has implemented an intuitive control scheme which is sure to satisfy hard-core basketball fans and newcomers alike. Besides including basic trademark basketball plays, the development team has put emphasis on Nintendo's analog stick, which can be used for multi-directional passing or shooting. The Z trigger, on the other hand, is used for shooting, enabling a number of different moves, fakes and dunks. On the defensive side, players can block dunk attempts, swat balls and even falter players at the free-throw line with intimidation. It's extremely realistic.

Much like in reality, players talk lots of "smack" after they score -- and this can be controlled, too. For example, a player who has just dunked on an opponent might turn around and say: "You can't cover me, young buck!" This, of course, is completely up to the individual who has just scored, who has the power to rub it in or let it go. The team who has just been scored upon must remain quiet.

Putting to use an in-house motion capture studio, Z-Axis has managed to create basketball players that move fluently and animate realistically. In addition, player's texture mapped faces look great. And while the game does have a Nintendo 64 look to it with anti-aliased players and floors, lots of added details like floor reflections and hi-res graphics do a lot to benefit it.

Look for this title October '98.