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RIPS & RAVES; 'Courtside' is no slam-dunk

Nintendo 64 adds another sports game to its lineup with Kobe Bryant in "NBA Courtside" ($50). But rather than go for the slam-dunk, the designers have created an above-average basketball game that fails to add anything new or innovative.

Visually, "Courtside" looks great. The animation is smooth, and the game play is impressive. Gamers can call picks and perform spin moves and slam-dunks.

Courtside is challenging enough to keep most gamers happy. It has all 29 NBA teams and most of the NBA players.

If you're looking for your first N64 basketball game, you can't do any better than Kobe Bryant in "NBA Courtside." If you're looking for an upgrade or for something new, "Courtside" probably isn't worth buying.

@ Few people can write hits, but anyone can write songs. KidNews talked to some hitmakers to get their feedback on songwriting techniques:

1) Carry that tape recorder everywhere: Song ideas can come anytime, often when you're not trying to write. "You need something to record your ideas, even a little microcassette recorder," said Gordon Kennedy, who co-wrote Eric Clapton's hit "Change the World." "If you don't have that, ideas get lost every other day." The final lyrics for "Change the World" came to Kennedy while he was driving.

2) Find a special place for writing: "You need to be able to think creatively, and you need an atmosphere that will promote that," said Toby McKeehan, vocalist and songwriter with grunge ZTC rappers dc talk. For Toby, that means being in public. "Whether it's in a coffee shop or a park bench in the city, I like to be able to watch people."

3) Get inspired! Lyrics can be about anything. Name a topic and there's a song about it, and if there isn't, maybe you'll be the first to cover it. Don't write a song to be popular or impress people: Write about something you experienced, saw or read in a book. You can also start with something that makes you laugh or cry. If it moves you, chances are it will affect others too.

4) Get it together. Typical songs have a verse and chorus. You can also have a bridge, a part that breaks up the repetition of verse and chorus. (Here's an example: In Pearl Jam's "Alive," the bridge begins with hushed guitars and ends with "and if so, who answers?")

5) If you're stuck I Now might be a good time to find a co-writer. Even John Lennon needed a Paul McCartney, and in U2, the band writes the music and Bono the lyrics.

Lou Carlozo

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