As a kid, I had a copy of TV Sports Hockey. For the most part, I thought it was a decent TurboGrafx entry into the sports genre, even if the gameplay wasn't quite on par with NHL Hockey for the Genesis. Based on that experience, and some screenshots I saw in magazines, I assumed that Cinemaware put out some pretty solid sports games. Playing TV Sports Football as an adult made me second guess this assumption. When I finally played TV Sports Basketball, I realized that the quality of TV Sports Hockey was an anamoly.
When a game can't get gameplay right, it's hard for me to overlook it to find other good qualities. Just like TV Sports Football, Cinemaware felt like could innovate with this one and throw out the book of tried and true sports game control schemes. In TV Sports Basketball, one button pretty much does it all. On the offensive end, you use the same button to pass and shoot. It took me a while to get used to this, and I never could really figure out what the value of the other button was on offense.
The hardest thing for me to overlook with this game was the fact that it is almost impossible to make a basket. I don't have the instructions, so maybe there is something that I'm missing. Maybe there is some element of timing when you shoot or perhaps you also need to use the d-pad. However, over the course of two full games, I made two buckets from the floor. Everything else was either a rejection or a brick. I'm guessing that roughly 90% of the shots that I put up were bricks. This even happened when I was wide open two feet in front of the basket. There's got to be a trick, but I just couldn't figure it out.
The graphics were decent enough for the day, including some fairly detailed shots of the announcers. Admittedly, the commentary from those announcers was a bit pathetic, so I didn't feel like they added a lot to the game.
Cinemaware also tried to innovate with some play calling features. I personally do not understand enough about basketball play calling to figure out what kind of difference one play makes over another, though. It's just not as obvious to me as football play calling.
I also was not enamored with the sound of TV Sports Basketball. I felt like the effects were a bit pathetic. Additionally, I don't remember much in the way of background music, so I can't say that it was anything to write home about.
When it comes to basketball games on the TurboGrafx, I think it's a pretty safe call to skip on this title and go with Takin' It To The Hoop. I don't remember the gameplay issues with that title. Perhaps Cinemaware should have researched what the competition had to offer before they tried to make another attempt into the sports arena.