Friday 29 May 2009

Michael Jordan in: Chaos in the Windy City

Following the trend of basketball stars in video games, here's another underrated Super Nintendo classic of days gone by:

Michael Jordan in: Chaos in the Windy City. Like Shaq Fu people dismissed this game from the get go because it was a platforming game featuring Micheal Jordan. As such, the game has been buried and forgotten about, which to be honest, must be some sort of crime. Though then again digging up a grave probably is as well.

Released for the Super Nintendo in 1994 by Electronic Arts, Micheal Jordan is set up with the task of saving all his team-mates so that an all star charity basketball game can continue (just like Shaq Fu!). In order to do this he must overcome the evil scientist "Maximus Cranium" who wants a perfect basketball team for some reason. Because this is clearly more important than curing cancer or whatever.

When I see basketball players in derelict buildings surrounded by floating eyes and zombies, I can't help but think of Scooby Doo's friends the Harlem Globetrotters. The concept of those guys helping to solve mysteries is a bit strange, but that didn't stop Hannah Barbera making several Scooby Doo specials devoted to them. In CitWC, Michael Jordan fits the role quite nicely as he runs about with a basketball attacking these creatures and opening doors with keys. If I were to write "one of the main parts of this game is opening doors", chances are you'd be turned-off, but don't be, because this game is a fine example of how to make the platforming genre more interesting. You have a colourful array of basketballs to deal damage to your enemies and the SNES manages to deliver a well polished, good looking (and pretty good sounding) title.

Though it's unwise to compare it to what could be considered the king of SNES platforming, Super Mario World, CitWC isn't as far behind as you may imagine. Its main problem is that it doesn't adapt to a PC keyboard that well. Granted, it's not supposed to, but with little chance of it ever being re-released it means you have to hunt down a real SNES (or a gamepad... whatever floats your boat) to get the true feel. Also because for whatever reason ZSNES isn't a fan of my keyboard, any gameplay flaws I may see many not actually be gameplay flaws. All I know is that it's got quite a bit of depth and is pretty damned fun. One thing EA could have done with is a saving feature instead of passwords (I mean come on it WAS 1994) but I suppose this is made up by the fact you can attack the press on your train journeys. In fact, this makes up for every flaw this game has.

Though you wouldn't make the album charts with the selection of music presented here, it's not too bad either. It fits the mood nicely, just a shame some of the tracks were re-used quite a bit. Then again how many EA games have noticeable soundtracks nowadays? Outside of the film licensees that come equipped with them, probably not too many.

But yeah, you can't go too wrong with Michael Jordan here. The real tragedy is that games such as these will likely never see the light of day again.

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