Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden, Chapter 1 of the Hoopz Barkley SaGa (PC)
An original and very fun fan-made game.

In this free, fan-made, turn based rpg game you are Charles Barkley. 12 years ago you performed a "chaos dunk": a highly powerful jam that threatens the "balance of chaos and order", and killed many people. This caused the great b-ball purge of 2041, where thousands of "b-ball" players were massacred and the sport of b-ball was outlawed. Now in the year 2053 another chaos dunk was performed wiping out the city of Manhattan killing millions of people. Because Charles Barkley is the only man known to be able to perform a chaos dunk, he is accused of it by the main antagonist Michael Jordan. Thus is your journey to flee from Jordan and learn who else could have performed a chaos dunk.

Gameplay 9/10: Battles are initiated by touching an enemy. The combat itself is truly turn based, and there is no use of turn gauges. The gameplay is remarkably fresh and highly enjoyable. Each character has their own unique set of moves which are implemented in a rather unique fashion (to my knowledge). For example, Charles has a group of attacks that are determined by which direction you use the movement keys. Left and up creates a powerful attack, but decreases your guard (defense). Straight up is neutral, doing moderate damage with no effects. Right and up is low damage but increases your guard. He has a few more moves, and so do your other main characters. On top of this, there are a set of special moves that use a form of action points called "BP". Each character has several with varying effects.

The only problem with this is that many of the attacks are simply weak with no useful added effects. Once you learn how to use all the moves, you will be sticking with one or two and ignoring the rest. The same goes for the special attacks. This however, does not detract from the gameplay in any major fashion and is the only reason this section did not get a perfect 10.

Story 10/10: I have already given the beginnings of the story, how it progresses you will have to learn on your own. However, the story is quite weird and full of quirky humor. The dialogue is also very well written. But I cannot reveal much without spoilers. All I can say is that if you enjoy a unique and quirky story, you should give this a try.

Graphics NA: Seeing as how this game was made with "Game Maker 9", and therefore not using highly advanced graphics engines etc., it doesn't visually look much better than an SNES game. Which is perfect in my opinion. Gives it a very nice old-school feeling. However, if you're into rpgs, you probably don't care a whole lot about graphics so this should be no problem.

Sound 8/10: Not much can be said about the sound effects, there's not a whole lot of them. Though the basketball sound in the menus are nice. My main complaint and reason for an 8/10 is because some attack sounds are grossly louder than anything else in the game. This can get annoying when the music is at a right volume, then all of a sudden there's this loud attack sound. Could of used a little more work. Also, there's a complete lack of audio options, except that you can have the writing translated to "Al Bhed" (a language found in Final Fantasy X). Great props for them taking the time to do that.

Music 10/10: According to the credits, the music was done by none other than Nobuo Uematsu! Yes, the guy who did much of Final Fantasy as well as the Xbox 360's exclusive Lost Odyssey. And it is indeed great: the battle music for one is absolutely addicting. Plus, when you download the game you get a music folder where you can listen to all the music in the game anytime you want! My only complaint is that when adding the music to the game, some pieces are slightly louder than others. For example, the battle music is probably the softest piece. Due to such high quality of the music, it still deserves a perfect score.

Replayability and difficulty: No score, just my thoughts on it. The difficulty is rather easy, especially if you fight all the battles you can (there is a set number of enemies in the game). Depending on how long you take reading the dialogue and how much you explore, it could take you anywhere from 3-6 hours to beat. This game is very fun and I will definitely be replaying it in the future.

Content warning: This game contains lots of cursing. Pretty much everything including the "F" word. There is also minor drug content with such items as tobacco, steroids, and alcohol. However, no such products are actually visually used in the game; they are mere items with certain positive effects like heal and cure status conditions. Violence is virtually non-existent. There is also no sex or nudity. If you're a major fan of Michael Jordan, you might not be too happy with this game. And if you can't handle jokes and insults at the expense of western games, then skip all the dialogue of the save pump.

Final score: 9/10. This game is free, why not give it a shot? (no pun intended). If you are at all a fan of classic rpg turn based gameplay, then you will most likely enjoy this game.

Originally posted on GFAQS, 2-11-08.

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