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Thursday, May 5, 1994 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Inside Moves -- When You Have To Come Inside, You Can Jam With The NBA, Play Ball With Ken Griffey Jr. Or Fight Evil Metroids With The Hot, New Video Games

Sure the weather is getting nice, ball fields and tennis courts are busy again, and you're spending more time outdoors. But sooner or later you come inside to play. Here are some new video games for your indoor entertainment:

-- Super Metroid (Super Nintendo): Don't bother with the story line of Nintendo's new Super Metroid. If it moves, kill it. If it goes up and down, ride it. If you can pick it up, take it. That just about covers it.

Super Metroid isn't exactly a strategy game. Players control Samus, a well-armored intergalactic bounty hunter determined to defend humanity against the Metroid threat. Samus runs, shoots, jumps and rolls into a ball to get into those hard-to-reach places where nasty little Metroids are known to hide.

What Metroid lacks in original story it more than makes up in depth and speed. Super Metroid incorporates 24 megabits of memory - a Super NES record - to create six very large worlds. That translates into hours of sprinting through the dark halls and enormous caverns of the planet Zebes.

Nintendo introduced the world to Samus in 1987 with the release of Metroid. In many ways, Metroid signaled the coming of age of the original Nintendo Entertainment System. It had some of the best graphics of its time on a home video game.

Metroid II, released for Gameboy in 1991, marked a new high point for hand-held game systems. Its graphics nearly matched the 8-bit graphics of NES games. It also featured battery backup to allow players to continue their games.

Like its predecessors, Super Metroid represents the maturing of its game system. It showcases the strengths of the Super NES and demonstrates how much fun a side-scrolling shoot'em-up can be.

Games capture hoopla of spring sports seasons

It happens only once a year, and it's almost too exciting. The professional basketball season winds down to a fiercely contested tournament while major-league baseball teams roll out in the hopes of a winning season. Two new video games, the best-selling titles in stores, capture the spirit of the May-June sports fest.

-- Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball (Super Nintendo System): Video baseball has not changed drastically since the release of Nintendo Baseball in 1986. There is good reason. The game of baseball has not changed drastically for decades.

That's why it is no surprise that at first glance Nintendo's new Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball is similar to older video baseball titles. The improvements in the Griffey game, like those in the sport, are subtle.

Nintendo pulled out all the stops when creating the game's graphics. Batters fill half the screen and have different stances. Some batters chew gum and blow bubbles. (The kinder, gentler, more politically correct Nintendo doesn't do chewing tobacco.

Controlling the outfield on Griffey Baseball takes some getting used to. During pitching sequences, players watch from behind the batter. Once the ball is hit, the screen switches to follow the ball. The challenge is figuring out how to get your fielders to the ball. You have to watch a diagram of the field in the lower right-hand corner of the screen.

In the end, Ken Griffey Baseball is a lot like the athlete himself: good at all aspects of the game, but especially impressive behind the bat. With wonderful batting control, minimal game pad commands and great graphics, this is one of the best video baseball cartridges on the market today.

-- NBA Jam (Super Nintendo System, Sega Genesis, Game Gear): NBA Jam, by Acclaim Entertainment, is not the game to play when you want to relax. The crowds, the pace, the announcer and the humiliation when the other team pulls off a 360-degree jam around your player - you do not wind down with this after a tough day.

Based on one of the most successful arcade sports games, NBA Jam lets you control NBA superstars in a two-on-two competition. That means you can control Shawn Kemp and Detlef Schrempf if you choose the Seattle SuperSonics. You can also control Charles Barkley and Kevin Johnson of the Phoenix Suns, James Worthy and Vlade Divac of the L.A. Lakers, even Derek Harper and Jim Jackson of the Dallas Mavericks.

The world is full of games with updated graphics and professional athletes. What stands out about NBA Jam is the pace. Controlling two players is a lot less confusing than managing an entire team.

Shooting is another story. The name NBA Jam suggests that this game is not about shooting three-pointers. The action is designed to take place under the rim. The steals and stuffs are outrageous, and elbows are legal.

There are turbo buttons on all configurations of this game. I suggest you use them. That's how you jump higher than the rim, spin 360 degrees in the air, slam the ball and generally get a better feel for the game.

NBA Jam also has some not-so-secret codes that add new elements to the game, such as my favorite that lets you substitute a chalk-colored bow-legged Bill Clinton for one of the NBA superstars on your team.

Copyright (c) 1994 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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