Game Reviews

Review: Swish! Miniclip Shoots a three pointer with Basketball Stars

Miniclip has a history of releasing good games for Android. Their latest game Basketball Stars, is an online game that will have you breaking ankles, shooting threes and having a fun time while doing it. Basketball Stars is an enjoyable free-to-play game from Miniclip, and you should definitely check it out.

I enjoy playing basketball video games. I am not a big online player, but recently I have been playing more, thanks to Supercell and Clash Royale. Basketball Stars however, has interrupted my Clash Royale play, because it is just as easy to find an online game, and you can play a game in a matter of minutes. The one on one gameplay is perfect, and it should be, because that is the main component of the game, except an offline practice mode and one mini-game.

The game starts with you creating your player. Modifying your player’s attributes are pretty in-depth. “Hey Miniclip! Why isn’t there an option for creating female characters?” Hopefully this is something that Miniclip will add in an update. It is really the only reason I would say that this game isn’t perfect. In the game menu it says there are other courts coming in the future, so let’s hope Miniclip will add the option to play as a female character. My daughter likes to play this game too, so adding the option of multiple profiles would be nice as well. The character creation allows you to change your player’s skin color, hair, clothes, accessories and basketballs. It is pretty detailed and a key component to the game. Since this game is a free-to-play game, changing how your character looks will require in-game currency or real cash.

The free-to-play structure of the game works well. If you are a player that doesn’t want to spend any real money, you don’t have to. You can enjoy the game without worrying about that, as long as you are winning. The in-game currency revolves around cash and gold bars. Gold bars are given when you level up in the game. Each time you win a game you gain XP. Once you level up, you are given a gold bar and accessories. When you beat your online opponent, you are given cash. You know upfront what you are going to win. This is one of the areas that may trouble some. Each game is going to cost you cash. There is an entry fee for each game. Basically it works like this, if the earnings from winning a game is $1000, Player A puts up $500 and Player B puts up $500. $500 is the entry fee for that game. The first court is the Underdogs Court. The prize money for winnings is $1000. The entry fee is $500, and this is the cheapest court to play on. The next court costs $1500 to play on and then it continues to go up, until you reach the fifth court, which the prize winnings are $500,000 but it costs you $250,000 to play on that court.

If you get really good at playing the game, you will be able to play on the other courts. I do think prices of the courts could be adjusted a bit. You could just play on the first two courts, and never have to really worry about amassing enough in-game cash to play on the other courts. The upper tier courts only change the scenery, not the gameplay. The players that you meet there could be really good though and have a much higher XP rating than yours, or they could have just spent some real cash to gain access to those levels. You never really know. The in-game store gives you the option of spending real money to gain extra cash, starting at $1.99, and the option to buy gold starting at $1.99 too. $500 free cash is given every hour, so technically you could continue to play on the first court and not have to worry about spending your money.

If you want to outfit your character in different clothes, which is pretty enjoyable, there are bags you can purchase. There are standard bags that you can buy for cash, and Premium and VIP bags that cost gold bars. It is hard to come by gold bars, so don’t expect to get those items unless you spend your real money. There is a mini-game that you can play once a day. It is spin and win. This is another way that you can increase your wardrobe. You generally win standard bags, which give you different accessories to wear like headphones, arm bands, shoes, shorts and hats. A golden spin will cost you $.99 This will net you premium items. I decided to give it a try. On my first spin I won $1 million dollars. That was great because it gave me access to upper tier courts if I wanted to spend that kind of cash to play on them. My second spin netted me a fedora and a funky looking shirt. Who knows what your result may be, so proceed with caution. There are also weekly competitions that will give you cash as well, based on where you are in the ranking at the end of the tournament. You don’t have to do anything to enter these, which is a good thing. I am sitting at #17 right now in my league. If I stay in the same place by the end of the tournament, I should get $3000 in-game cash. Your ranking is based on how many games you have won, or basically, how much cash you have amassed in your weekly gameplay.

The gameplay is where Basketball Stars shines. There are two modes: Attack – Defender and Shooting Race. Attack – Defender has you playing in a one on one match. You may start off as the attacker (with the ball), or you may start off as the defender (without the ball). The shooting mechanic is simple. There is a bar on the side of your screen. You swipe up in the center of your screen to match where the tick mark is on the bar. If you swipe right up to the tick mark or just slightly over, you will make the shot. If you under swipe or over swipe, you will miss the shot. Swiping down before you swipe up will allow you to pump fake your shot. Tapping left or right will make your player side step to the right or left. You then have to swipe up again to make your shot. The controls are easy, but you need to move quickly, or your opponent will try to steal the ball from you, or block your shot. Stealing the ball from the defender’s perspective is done by swiping left or right. Blocking the ball is done by swiping up, which cause your player to jump up. There was one game I played where we were trading stealing the ball from one another and it went on for quite a while. If you make your shot you keep the ball, as long as the other player doesn’t steal it. Each court has different points that you play to, like the first player to 10 points or 12 points.

In shooting race it is similar, but you want to be the player with most points accrued by the end of the game. You don’t have to worry about the player stealing the ball from you. It is basically you shooting free throws from different angles on the court. You get on fire when you hit three shots or more in a row. During the game power-ups or bonuses appear, like +5 for making a shot off the backboard, or for an all nets shot, no rim. Though it happens sporadically, you also can win gold bars. What I like about shooting race is that you see the other player from time to time. You start off together, and you can see when they make their shots. Sometimes the balls collide and your ball could be knocked away from the hoop. At times, depending on your online connection, you may find that your player has surpassed you greatly without you knowing it. I enjoy both modes, and it is hard to pick between them. Both modes have the same entry fee structure and prize winnings structure.

The graphics, sound effects and in-game music are great. Basketball Stars does a good job of making you feel like you are really competing. The online component is pretty much flawlessly implemented. At any given time, you know how many players are on the court in your region. It does a good job of matchmaking too, based on your level of XP.

Basketball Stars is integrated with Google Game Play Services with 10 achievements to unlock. You can also link your Facebook account, which adds another level of competition, should your friends choose to play the game too. There is a lot to like about Basketball Stars. Miniclip has put together a fun and highly-polished game, with simple controls and excellent online play.The free-to-play structure doesn’t hamper gameplay. It looks like they plan to further support the game with more courts… and hopefully, more characters too. You can’t go wrong downloading Basketball Stars. It is probably the closest thing to feeling like Wardell Stephen ‘Steph’ Curry II, and raining down threes on your opponents.

 

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