Unlike many sports, basketball is a pastime whose history we can definitively and authoritatively trace. Basketball was invented by James Naismith, a Canadian-American physical education teacher, back in 1891. Naismith wanted a high-intensity athletic game to keep his students active on a particularly grisly rainy day, and so jotted down the basic rules of basketball. It was a decidedly primitive version of the sport we know today, but most of the hallmarks were already there in Naismith’s design.
We’re not sure what Naismith would have made of Dunkers 2, a fun game which bears a passing resemblance to basketball but isn’t really about the sport. Dunkers 2 comes to us from independent developer Colin Lane Games, a team which has also given us mobile classics like Golf Zero, Big Shot Boxing and Battle Golf Online, not to mention the original Dunkers. Colin Lane Games bills this newest instalment as “physics basketball mayhem”, which is probably about on the mark.
Booting up Dunkers 2 for the first time, you’ll be given a choice of modes and a tutorial to complete.Although the mechanics here aren’t particularly complicated in terms of learning, we would recommend you play the tutorial before heading into the main game; some of the AI opponents can be particularly mean, so you’re better off having a rudimentary handle on gameplay before trying to compete in even the earliest single-player tournaments. It’s not a hugely long tutorial, so it won’t detract from your play session.
Let’s back up a little and explain Dunkers 2 in a bit more detail. The game is nominally a basketball title; there are two baskets, one at either end of the play field, and a point is scored when either one of the two players manages to dunk the ball into the other player’s net. It’s there that the similarities end, though. Dunkers 2only allows two players per game onto the court, for a start, and more points aren’t awarded for a far throw, mostly because it’s not actually possible to throw the ball.
Okay, we’ve danced around it enough. Dunkers 2 is a roaring good time, and that’s mostly because of its lack of similarities to the actual sport of basketball. If you’re looking for a sober simulation of the sport akin to NBA or NCAA, then you’re very definitely in the wrong place. Dunkers 2’s flailing, madcap action is much more suited to the casual gamer and those looking for a quick multiplayer session of mayhem than to the actual basketball aficionado.
Here’s the deal. In Dunkers 2, you must grab the ball by any means necessary and attempt to dunk it into your opponent’s net (hence Dunkers). Each player’s avatar is a whirligig maelstrom of spinning arms, so you can’t actually manually grab the ball yourself. Instead, you’ll be relying on your player’s positioning, leaping onto opponents and wresting the ball from them physically. Your only input method in Dunkers 2 consists of two keyboard keys, one of which jumps left and one of which jumps right. That’s it. No complicated passing controls, no tackling setup, just jumping and grabbing the ball.
What this translates to in gameplay terms is a ridiculous-looking slap fight that’s simply a joy to watch and play. It doesn’t look like there’s a huge amount of depth in Dunkers 2’smechanics, but play for a little while and you’ll realize that there’s more to it than there initially seems to be. Dunkers 2 manages that rare feat of being shallow for those who aren’t interested in learning its ins and outs while also offering depth to those who are happy to spend a little more time with its precision positioning and careful arm movement. You might not be able to control where your arms flail, but you can certainly control where you are when they do so.
Dunkers 2 is an experience largely built around its central mechanics, so most of its modes are essentially ways to enable the core gameplay loop to happen. Its single-player modes consist of Arcade, which sees players taking on an increasingly difficult ladder of opponents in order to reach a high score; Tournament, in which the first player to seven victories wins; and Quick Play, where players can simply face off against a random opponent in a quick game. They’re all fine; they won’t set the world on fire, but they’re good ways to get games in and increase the addictive hold Dunkers 2 will inevitably exert over you.
There are extras in Dunkers 2, including a shop where players can buy new shirts and balls within-game currency, but it’s mostly a game about that hilariously madcap central loop. Grab a friend and spend a few hours jumping around senselessly and you’ll have a great time, but get stuck into the mechanics and you’ll find a surprisingly deep and rewarding experience.