Classic Game Review: Final Four College

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With the tremendous number of computer games hitting the market each year, it is indeed rare to be able to point to a release and say “one of a kind”. But that’s exactly what Final Four College Basketball and Basketball: The Pro Game is both come from Lance Hefner games and both are currently available only for the Apple. Plans are currently being laid for conversions to the Commodore 64 and the IBM PC.

There are three requirements to enjoy these two basketball simulations. First, you must have an imagination. These games are all text so it is imperative that you be able to feel the excitement, hear the squeak of the sneakers and visualize the stuffs and the blocks in order to get a real flavour of the sports from these games. Second, you must be historically oriented to the sport.

The idea of seeing teams from the past battle it out with each other or with teams from the present has to get the blood pumping. Finally, you need to know the sport. The college basketball game was the greatest undertaking, as there are 230 teams included in the game. Over 160 are from last season and the others are great teams from seasons past. What makes that such a big job is that there is no one reference work that gives all of the statistics necessary. Putting together those teams involved many phone calls and letters to universities around the country.

That painstaking work makes it possible to put say last year’s NCAA champions, theĀ Georgetown Hoyas, up against the unbeaten 1976 champion Indiana Hoosiers. When I played that matchup, Indiana opened an eight-point halftime lead and held the Hoyas even in the second half for a 76-68 win. Scott May had 24 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Hoosiers. Patrick Ewing had 16 points and eight caroms for the Hoyas.

In the college game, the player picks his starting line up and the other player (or the computer) selects his. Each then picks the type of defence (tight man-to-man, sagging zone, trapping zone, match-up zone or loose man-to-man) and whether his team will press after each basket.

On offence, the choices are normal, safe or aggressive. There are even provisions down the stretch for intentional fouls. Each team is given time outs. Then, and during dead ball situations, substitutions can be made and any of the offensive or defensive selections can be changed. As the game goes on, players will tire at a rate based upon a player’s real playing time. If a tired player isn’t removed, he will become exhausted and his performance will become even poorer. As a player waits on the bench, he will eventually become rested. The pro game is very similar. There are 81 teams included, going back to 1955.

The man-to-man defensive choices are; regular, sagging, trapping, tight and loose (zone is not available). There is also a 24-second clock in the pro game, as opposed to the college version’s optional 45-second clock. A three-point shot is also available in the pro game. While testing the game, the most interesting pro match-up came when the Wilt Chamberlain-led 1972 Lakers tested the Kareen Abdul-Jabbar-led 1980 Lakers. The ’72 version won the fourth quarter 30-16 on its way to a 127-103 victory. The key was a whopping 64-36 rebound advantage. Chamberlain had 13 rebounds and 21 points. Gail Goodrich had 28 points. Jabbar had 22 points but only eight boards, but Magic Johnson had 12 points and a like number of rebounds.

The statistics printed out at game’s end are excellent. For colleges, field goals made and attempted, free throws made and attempted, rebounds, points and fouls are recorded. For the pro game assists and blocks are tallied also. There are some problems with the game. First, the keyboard is the only input device.

This means either players need to huddle around the keyboard or one needs to be designated as the key- board controller. Also, the computer as a coach sometimes leaves a little to be desired. Sometimes, for example, he will wait to long to take out a tired player, leaving him out of the game too long. On the plus side there is a utility to help you create your own college and pro teams if you have the necessary statistics. Overall, it is a well thought-out pair of games that certainly fills a void in the computer gaming world.

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