White Men Can't Jump

Atari Jaguar

from AEO Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 6

 |||   White Men Can't Jump
 |||   Review by: Mark "Stingray" Santora
/ | \  GEnie: AEO.4  Delphi: SANTORA

To date there have been only a few sports games released for the
Jaguar - Brutal Sports Football, Checkered Flag, Troy Aikman Football,
Sensible Soccer, and Super Burnout. Unfortunately, only Super Burnout
managed to wow critics and players - until now. The Jaguar has its
first basketball game, and it ain't trash.

WMCJ is a half court two on two basketball game which features some
rather innovative effects, like a floating camera, the Team Tap, and
use of a rather good movie license - but more on those later.

//// Getting Started

After the opening screens you come to the Main Menu on which you have
five selections - Vs. Mode, Tournament Mode, Resume Game, Options, and

VS. MODE - Using the Team Tap, up to 4 players can compete against
each other in a 2 on 2 game of Street Basketball. Choose your teams,
there are 25, with names like 3pt Kings, Super Dunks, Dis Masters, and
Urban Angels to name a few. From the option screen you can set
everything from a timed to a point game. You then can choose from 4
different courts, Street, Beach, City, Rural. Then it's up to you and
your friends. You can also play against the computer and choose its
team as well. After one game, it's over and to play again you must
sift through all the choices again.

TOURNAMENT MODE - This mode is far more complex than a simple two on
two game. It goes like this, you and your partner want to play in the
Slam City Street Basketball Tournament but you don't have any money
and it costs $5000 to play. So you borrow $500 from the local
loansharks, The Breakneck Brothers - Tangle and Cash - who you see
after every game. Start playing hoops locally, trying to earn $5000 so
you can play in the tournament. If you lose too much money and can't
pay back the Breakneck Brothers, well, they're loansharks - figure it

If you make $5000, you instantly get entered into the tournament. You
have the ability to save your game in this mode so that you can come
back later if you run short on time and don't want to lose all your

RESUME GAME - You have three "Keys" where you can store your money
from the Tournament mode. You can only save after you complete a game.

OPTIONS - Here you can change almost everything against in the game.
Changes will be saved to the cart. Certain options are only available
in the VS. MODE of the game -

standard score - 2 pts. per basket/3 per long shot
street score   -  1 pt. per basket/2 per long shot

 Time  - Timed Game
Score  - First to XXpts. wins.

 Standard Play  - After a basket, the opposite team gets the ball
Make It/Take It - You made the basket, it's yours again.

The following options are available for both the VS. Mode and the
Tournament Mode.

[] Messages On/Off - Running commentary that pops up on the screen.
Personally I find that it adds a lot of clutter to the screen and
makes it difficult to follow the game. I leave it permanently off.

[] Timed Arrow Players On/Off - There are colored arrows that appear
over each character on the screen. If you leave this option on, the
arrows will only appear when you change control to the other player on
your team. If you leave this option off, the arrow will permanently
stay on. Since the color palette is very earthy in tone, you can loose
sight of the player you are controlling. I suggest leaving this option
OFF which will keep an arrow on your player all the time.

[] Change on Falls On/Off - When your character falls, or is knocked
down (this is street B-ball), the computer will automatically switch
to the other member of your team. If you leave this off, you must
double press the Speed Boost Button. Personally, I leave it off, but
to each their own.

JOYPAD - This is where you and three of your friends can customize
the controls on an individual joypad.

//// Team Tap

Included with WMCJ at no extra charge is the Team Tap, a four-player
joypad adaptor. The Team Tap comes in a box slightly thicker than the
standard Jaguar game box and uses heavy cardboard for packing. There
is a very nice picture of the unit on the front and back with a pair
of Jaguar eyes looking over it.

It is a very solid design and measures just under 6 inches x 3 inches
x 1 inch. Don't forget about the clearance room to use it. There are
four ports on the front of the Tap (A,B,C,D), and they are all the
standard size of a Jaguar port. Out of the back of the Tap runs a
single cable which connects to the Jaguar joypad port.

In the case of WMCJ, the Tap is plugged into port 2 on the Jag. Ports
A, B and C on the Team Tap are used for the respective number of
players in the game.

The Team Tap is NOT required to play WMCJ, but it does make it more
fun. Also, it is possible to use a Team Tap on each port which will
give you EIGHT players for a game, but software must be written to use
it first.

//// Shooting Hoops

You start with a zooming in camera that stops right about center court
- if this was a full size Bball court. You see your two team members
with the other team as you inbound the ball.

On the top of the screen are your team symbols and respective score.
Next to your score, a basketball will appear when you have possession
of the ball. If you have to take the ball out (past half court), a
giant "X" will appear through the ball. After moving it out, the "X"
will disappear. You can shoot the ball before the "X" is gone, but it
will not count.

Underneath the team logo are pictures of you and your teammate. On
either side of the pictures are a red and green bar. The green bar is
your Energy, the higher it is, the better you move, shoot and punch.
The red bar is your Anger level. Every time you knock down a player,
commit a foul (only goaltending and traveling are called), and get
knocked down, this bar goes up and it takes YOU longer to get up when
knocked down.

In between the team pictures and bars, the running commentary of words
dissolve and sweep into the screen. I personally find them very
distracting, so I leave them off. It also gives you a better view of
the court.

Speaking of "view of the court," I suppose this is a good place to
mention the floating camera. It starts about 8 feet off the ground at
half court and then arc back and forth, up and down, allowing
different angles of the action. Think of it as a much improved version
of the cameras found in the Virtua series by Sega. The camera is
computer controlled and looks nice. You don't lose any frames while
the camera is in motion, or still.

Each Character has several "SUPER DUNKS." These are performed by
moving the keypad while taking the shot. The higher the energy, the
better you are at making the shot. Each character has one Super Dunk
listed in the manual. Others are hidden within the game, as I am sure
other items are as well.

Controlling your team member is relatively simple. Move around the
court using the joypad.

[] One of the buttons is used for Pass/Punch. On offense, if you tap
the button once, you fake a pass to your teammate. If you tap it and
hold it, you will pass the ball. On defense, you can make the other
team taste asphalt. BTW, you can hit your own players, so be careful.

[] The second button is used for Shoot/Jump. On offense, you shoot the
ball. By timing it right with the correct movement on the joypad, you
can do a Super Dunk. On defense, you Jump to deflect a ball being

[] The third button is for Speed Boost/Change Character. If you hold
it down, you run quicker, but you lose energy quickly. If you tap it
twice quickly, you will change your character. On defense, by pressing
and holding the button, you form a defensive wall against the offense.

[] The Pause Button - Do I -REALLY- have to cover this?

[] The Option Button - Pressed while paused, you can change volume,
sound effects, and voices.

//// Graphics

The imagery is sharp and well defined. Two problems, one is purely
cosmetic. First and most importantly, is that the colors used in the
game all have the same tone. They are all earthy toned, from the
asphalt to the colors of the characters. This can cause confusion
while playing as you can lose track of what is going on - see why I
suggested leaving the arrow on about your guy in the Options section?
If there had been a little more light in the game, it would have
brightened up the scenes and made it easier to distinguish between the
characters and background.

Cosmetic - only the main players are rendered in 3D. The items along
the side of the court, people, fences, etc., are quite visibly flat,
as the floating camera shows us. I would have liked to see them better
rendered, and maybe doing something, like cheering. Aside from that,
the graphics are sharp and nicely drawn. They fit into the mood of the
game very well.

//// Sound

The music in WMCJ leaves a lot to be desired. It's not close to the
tunes in T2K. They seem to fit the game but sound tinny and really
lack the style one would find being played in a game of Street

There is also a running audio commentary by the players - "Get off me
chump!," "Hands on the Rim!," "It's hard being this good!" The samples
are clean and there. I leave them on, but really have no love or hate
for them.

//// Overall

White Men Can't Jump is NOT a game you can completely master in five
minutes. It takes time and practice to get the feel of it. But the
gameplay is there. It is really addictive, like Cannon Fodder and
Pinball Fantasies. The biggest difference over them that WMCJ has is
that it does not look like it could have been pulled off on a Genesis
or SNES.  This is 64bits, for those who can describe a 64bit game to

This is the best sports game on the Jaguar to date. It is fun,
addictive, and allows you to really show off what a fine machine the
Jaguar is. Kudos to the programmers at High Voltage. And there are
more sports games on the way, Hockey, Football, Baseball. I know of
two that are immediately planning for use of the Team Tap and will be
released with software built in to support it.

//// Final Ratings

        Title: White Men Can't Jump            JagNet: No
       Design: High Voltage                   Players: 1-4(w/Team Tap)
 Published by: Atari                        Cart Size: 4 Megabyte
       Retail: $69.95                    Availability: Now
               (w/free Team Tap for a limited time)

 A Summary of ratings:
        "*" is a whole
         "+" is a half
       5 stars maximum

 Graphics - ****    Players are well drawn and the backgrounds fit the
                    game. Sometimes you can lose your player because
                    of the color scheme.
    Audio - ***     Average. Could have been much better.
  Control - ***+    Very intuitive. You don't screw up at the controls
                    because you can't find something.  Players are
                    very responsive.
 Gameplay - ****    Excellent. Really keeps you hooked. Well
  Overall - ****    The gameplay is the thing. Really great. The
                    graphics are nice, but when I lose my player, it
                    annoys me a little. The game rocks.

Pts Stars  AEO Ratings
""" """""  """""""""""
 10 *****  GAMING NIRVANA!!! - You have left reality behind... for good.
  9 ****+  Unbelieveable GAME!! - Your family notices you're often absent.
  8 ****   Fantastic Game!! - You can't get enough playtime in on this.
  7 ***+   Great Game! - Something to show off to friends or 3DOers.
  6 ***    Good game - You find yourself playing this from time to time.
  5 **+    Ho-hum - If there's nothing else to do, you play this.
  4 **     Waste of time - Better to play this than play in traffic.
  3 *+     Sucks - Playing in traffic sounds like more fun.
  2 *      Sucks Badly - You'd rather face an IRS audit than play this.
  1 +      Forget it - ... but you can't; it's so badly done, it haunts you.
  0 -      Burn it - Disallow programmer from ever writing again.

Back to Archive