ESPN NCAA College Hoops

ESPN NCAA College Hoops

Jeff Pearlman

Although ESPN’s NCAA College Hoops offers nothing beyond so-so goods, it features one thing that makes the game soar beyond the competition: air hockey.

Yup. Air hockey.

n the otherwise idiotic “Campus Store” section, one is confronted by an old-fashioned air-hockey machine, that can be played in a similar fashion to Pong. It’s simple fun and, oddly, the best thing about Hoops.

Okay, not the best. To its credit, Hoops features all Division I schools, so that everyone from the University of Delaware freshman to the Arizona State seventh-year senior can feel warm, fuzzy, and represented. The action, however, suffers as the pro ESPN game does; long passes are too easy to complete, and the cheers from fans come, oh, seven seconds after a good play. It’s not the tightest coding ever seen in a videogame.

Like other countless games, Hoops goes too far trying to reinvent the wheel. To score from the charity stripe, one must perfectly time squeezing both triggers while pressing a button (imagine a blindfolded Shaq). Traditionally, the free throw is supposed to be a basketball gimme. Here, it’s nearly impossible.

This isn’t a nightmarish game. It’s entertaining and engaging, and a fine educational tool for those wanting to learn the names of obscure learning institutions. But once again, it seems as if someone important in the videogame world believes the words “ESPN” on the packaging is instant gold.

Copyright © 2004 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in Xbox Nation.