The cartridge presents a simple game of one-on-one basketball playable by one or two players,
Basketball is an Atari 2600 video game written by Alan Miller and published by Atari, Inc. in 1978.
The cartridge presents a simple game of one-on-one basketball playable by one or two players, one of the few early Atari 2600 titles to have a single-player mode with an AI-controlled opponent. Miller wrote a version of Basketball for the Atari 8-bit family with improved graphics, published in 1979. That same year an arcade version similar to the computer port was released by Atari but in black and white. The arcade game was written by Chris Downend.
At the start of the game, both players are at the center of the court. A jump ball is thrown between them to begin play. The player in the offensive position (i.e. in possession of the ball) always faces a basket representing the assigned shooting target, and defensive players always face the opponent. Each player can move in eight directions with the joystick; the player with the ball constantly dribbles it. The defensive player may steal the ball when it leaves the opponent's hands (either in mid-dribble or mid-shot).
After either player scores, the shooter is reset to the center of the court and becomes the defensive player (defending the opponent) while the former defender is set under the basket to inbound the ball and take an offensive chance. The player with the highest score after four minutes is the winner.
The game features two difficulty levels using the Difficulty Switch on the Atari 2600. In "B" position, the player can move from goal to goal much more quickly than the "A" position.