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It makes a strange kind of sense that you’d send inhumanly tall and athletic pro basketball players to ward off an alien invasion, as is the offbeat hook for the fun (but generic), free-to-play endless runner, NBA Rush. All 90 players are licensed from the 30 current NBA team rosters, and are modeled in a rough likeness to their real-world selves, right down to their respective signature dunking styles. There’s little to distinguish them beyond aesthetics, however.
This extends into a lack of variety in level design, with the same few strips of road and scenery cycled incessantly as you run, jump, and slide to avoid cars, buses, explosions, and alien spacecraft. The bulk of the enjoyment comes from bouncing off and dunking on aliens, or jumping into space via extravagant showboat animations. Elsewhere, however, the familiar running mechanics prove a tad shallow. You’ll weave left and right across three lanes in an effort to collect coins and power-ups, dodge obstacles, and leap onto the homicidal little green men. Hopping on the invaders fills a bar that lets you increase your score multiplier and tag out the current player for the next one in your roster.
Each baller gets a certain bonus, such as a higher percentage of coins or score multipliers, and they can be leveled up with diamonds that you either find (very rarely) in the game or buy with an in-app purchase. Drafting in new players costs a ton of coins, too, while you can also spend the currency on increasing the duration and frequency of power-ups. Ultimately, each run feels much the same as the last, regardless of player choice and despite a clearly different arrangement of ramps and hazards in your way, thanks to a shortage in obstacle types and the sameness of the aliens. NBA Rush offers ridiculous fun in short bursts, but these issues wear down the excitement over time.
The bottom line. There’s a quirky kind of fun in dunking on UFOs, dribbling around explosions, and jumping into outer space for extra coins — but theme aside, NBA Rush brings little new to the saturated endless runner genre, and it’s too shallow to hold much long-term interest.
iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 5.0 or later
Slam dunking on aliens never felt so fun. Unique premise and hearted tone. Cool superhero makeovers of the NBA stars.
Under the glitz of the NBA theme, it’s just another endless runner. Lacks variety. Upgrades and draft system seem designed to suck money out of you.