NBA Street Homecourt is like a basketball time warp to the '70s, before the monster fro's were all knit into cornrows. The eye-calming visuals of this series' fourth game are so freshly serene that they might leave you feeling anesthetized. Foregoing photorealism, Homecourt is washed in delightful primary colors that just plain sparkle. The stars of the environment—the rich, breathtaking courts—are all recreations of places NBAers balled in their youth, including Rip Hamilton's Ash Park stomping ground in Coatesville, PA, and Carmelo Anthony's home spot in West Baltimore. The historical courts are educational, but they also serve as launching points to put your own home court on the map.
As good as the game looks, though, it plays even better, and it's been ideally refined over its past iterations. The ability to bust out a clever series of tricks has reached new heights, the new loose-ball shenanigans add levity, and the dunks are jump-out-of-your-seat-and-cheer ridiculous. The game scores again and again by never taking itself too seriously. If you blow a monster dunk, you might get your foot caught in the hoop. If you time your flush right, you can catch it with your feet and dunk again, for double the points. The much-more-than-a-sports-game identity becomes more apparent when you're playing defense, which becomes a sort of fighting game, with your pushing and shoving vs. a ball-handler's trickery. Good times.
Beyond the game: This game pulses with one fantastic design decision after another, except for one lone flaw: the questionable use of the Courier font in the pre-game menus. Ugly.
Worth playing for: The Gamebreakers. Finally, a perfect system. The more tricks you do, the more your Gamebreaker is worth. But there's risk to the reward, as your opponents can steal the ball and make your Gamebreaker their Gamebreaker.
Frustration sets in when: The create-a-player function runs out of design options for white players. If you want a Steve Nash-looking point guard, no deal. You'll be forced to go bald, or wear a goatee. No hipsters allowed.
Final judgment: A dazzling array of showmanship, visual glitz, and a hefty dose of fun make this an absolute must-play.