BasketBelle (OneMrBean)

Let’s try to keep the posting momentum up this time around.

BasketBelle is a basketball game by OneMrBean (aka @OneMrBean aka Michael Molinari).

At it’s heart, BasketBelle is a story about family ties as told through basketball – a sister is lost and a brother has to get her back.  This is Bean’s first release since he went full-time indie (so go buy it :) – and it comes with the soundtrack and his sketchbook. He does his usual thing and handcrafts a visually beautiful world (of cardboard!) accompanied by his own soundtrack.

I love the way Bean bends reality in the game to create this fantasy that’s feels like it could have been hatched from the imagination of a five-year old version of my sister.  And as usual – his animations create a wonderful game feel.  Over-exaggerated basketball dunks, slick sliding movements, and different flavors of flying.

Where Bean takes a departure from his previous games is in terms of dialogue.  Namely – there’s dialogue here when there hasn’t been any dialogue in prior games.  The story Bean chose to tell almost requires words – and some of the lines work great, but other lines feel forced.  They end up detracting from immersion because most of the moments in the game stand on their own without words.  Bean has a way of picking great moments to animate.  That’s what drew me into …But That Was [Yesterday] and [Together] (both are free, so give them a whirl).

I do have a [constructive] criticism of the game.  Some of the game lacks the emotional context telling me why I want to get to the next screen.  The bulk of the game is a series of head-to-head basketball showdowns.  There is a reason why all this is happening, but sometimes it gets lost.  In Bean’s sketchbook, he mentions initially thinking that each showdown would represent a fear the brother has about his sister’s whereabouts.  Could she be drowning?  Did someone kidnap her?  Is she all alone?  Having the showdowns as a metaphors for the brother’s fears would easily have forced that emotional context upon me – mashing together the mechanics and the story without needing any more words.

But even with that in mind, the game is still gorgeous, and it’s the first basketball game that I enjoyed since NBA Jam on Sega.  (Admittedly, I also haven’t played any basketball games since NBA Jam.)


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