Just what are these "Added Benefits?" Scoring -- or other "positive actions" -- charges a meter tied to power-ups. Once filled, youíre given a random power-up, providing you with a quick boost. Power-up effects vary greatly, with some being absolute game breakers. For instance, one multiplies any points earned off dunks for a set amount of time. Since dunking is one of the easier things to do, it is possible to quickly rocket past your opponent by double-digits, effectively putting the game out of reach. By comparison, some are flat-out useless.
The power-ups are clearly an attempt to give NBA Playgrounds its own unique spin, but it doesnít work, at least not in the core game. Instead, power-ups are better suited for a side-mode. At the very least, they shouldnít be as powerful considering how much of a positive feedback loop they create. Once someone is ahead, they are most likely to stay ahead. This is the exact opposite of a game like Mario Kart, which doles out less-effective power-ups the closer you are to the front.
I have a love-hate relationship with the Stamina bar. In some ways, I like that it serves as a bit of a regulator on player actions. You have to think about your actions beforehand, rather than flailing around in a flurry of elbows and attempted blocks. On the downside, stamina drains quickly. Even if youíre careful about your actions, it is entirely possible to reach the hoop with minimal stamina, limiting what you can do. The only counter to this is to use a player with a high stamina stat, but since access of players is random, thereís no way to guarantee access.
In all, NBA Playgrounds does a great job of trying to emulate NBA Jam. On the surface, everything is where it needs to be for a successful game. Itís the smaller details that get in the way and rob NBA Playgrounds of the "spark" that made NBA Jam.