"DOUBLE DRIBBLE" was the first great Basketball video game

Ah yes, the video game that dominated the free time of so many BBall lovin’ 80’s kids, also known in Japan as “EXCITING BASKET”.

I mean, it really was the first one that went too far beyond the stick figure 1-on-1 Atari model. Sure, you could routinely hit halfcourt shots in Atari Basketball, but the novelty of it tended to wear off rather quickly. Looking back now, it appears the setting for this game was the fucking Moon, so it did have that going for it.

Ballin' on the moon

The next evolution in video game hoops was “One-on-One: Dr. J and Larry Bird”, which was much better but still flawed. Honestly, you could bust the doctor’s ass every time if you were any good, mainly because Bird didn’t miss from inside 20 feet. Ever. Other selling points included the ability to shatter the backboard with a dunk, a kindly janitor who always showed up to sweep up the resulting wreckage and the packaging, which makes it look alot more like a Disco record than a game.

Eat your heart out, Hall & Oates.

Of course, All of this was merely prelude to the first real Basketball game. Sure, it was primitive compared to the First NBA Live, ( which was known as “Lakers Vs Celtics and the NBA Playoffs” in those days) but it paved the way for bigger things, Much like Tecmo Bowl did for the NFL and RBI did for baseball in 1987.

Needless to say, I’ve got fond (and surprisingly vivid) memories of Double Dribble, including the sheer exuberance of riding my bike home from the Beverly Center and throwing that shit in my Nintendo with reckless abandon (made sure to snap it in, of course).

So, without turning this into a full blown game review/nostalgia piece, I’m just gonna speak a bit on the many ways this game moved me, and let the pictures and videos do the rest.


As was usually the case in those days, there were subtle differences between the arcade and home versions of Double Dribble. Chief among them was the fact that the arcade game had a random, high pitched disembodied voice (The coach, it can only be assumed) imploring you to do shit like box out or pass the ball.

Matter of fact, this game never stopped talking, even though it’s hard to say who the fuck it actually running his mouth.

Wow, I was totally unprepared for that. Seriously, everything from that avant-garde rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner” to the incessant squeaking of the sneakers and pounding sound of the dribble came  close to giving me a panic attack. Was this game directed by Darren Aronfsky or some shit?


The only thing that stopped this game from being perfect in the eyes of the 12 year old me was the fact that it wasnt liscensed by the NBA, and thus they couldn’t use the real teams. Oh, and there was only 4 of them- the Chicago Ox , New York Eagles, Boston Frogs and Los Angeles Breakers.

That’s right, I said the BOSTON FROGS.

To everyone’s delight, the Frog is featured prominently in the spectacular halftime show, also co-starring some sort of deranged blue pickle. Truthfully, I have no fucking clue what that thing is. A bit frightening, really.

Oh, and can those cheerleaders really shake that ass or what?


There is just an innate surreal quality to these old games that simnply can’t be found today.

This is supposed to be the interstitial pre-game graphic/exterior beauty shot of the stadium. Instead, it looks like an alternate ending sequence for “Miracle Mile” or some shit. Kind of a shame they didn’t populate the Arena with a bunch of aliens and creatures, ala the Star Wars bar.

Hell, I’m only nitpicking here. Double Dribble was more than best you could do in 1987, and nobody who played it back then is likely to tell you any different.

Oh yeah, one more thing. Why the fuck would you name your game after a rules violation? Looking back on it with adult eyes, this makes less than no sense. Would you name your football game “Neutral Zone Infraction”?

Chalk it up to the 80’s, or whatever.

-John Hathwell

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