The post-apocalyptic genre is an old, but great tactic. It can work for literature, movies, and even games. What draws us to these alternate realties could have something to do with human curiosity. What if New York was overgrown by plants? What if there were mutants, or zombies that roamed the Earth? Sometimes even a small spark like turning a well-known place into a pile of ruins is basis enough for a story. But tropes like the aforementioned zombies and nuclear blasts are tired. We need something new.
Barkley Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden answers that calling by asking, “Would if the world was destroyed by Charles Barkley’s dunks?” This slam-dunk sends the world into ruin, turning people against basketball as if it were Hitler. Yes, that is the plot of the game, no joke. Not weird enough? Ok here are some more obscurities. The game is presented as a sequel to Space Jam. And the song, Space Jam, is in the title sequence. I think you get the point by now; this game is bonkers.
The gameplay itself is like the Mario RPG series. Barkley and his companions have a set amount of abilities that, once activated, require some timed button presses. Barkley can shoot free throws, for example, and you must time your execution promptly or else damage will result in zero. Other than standard Japanese RPG schemes, in terms of battles, it’s not very riveting. Thankfully the enemies and party members, along with their skills, do offer some flavor. I won’t say whom, but there’s a cyborg basketball player who can shoot lasers out of his eyes.
Visually, this game is a mess. It is indie, after all, and the developer, Tales of Game’s kind of smashed Photoshop pictures and sprites together into a licensing nightmare. But, as it is indie, and free I might add, it can be overlooked.
Barkley Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden is truly one bizarre adventure worth checking out. Plus if you like this game, they’re working on a sequel. So what are you waiting for? Come on and slam, and welcome to the jam.
Score: 3/5 Stars
Special Notes: This article was originally published on March 6, 2013 via my Examiner account before the website shut down.