A little over 15 years ago, Midway introduced the world to an arcade style basketball called NBA Jam. With over the top commentary which was ahead of its time and super hero game play, NBA Jam stole the hearts of many gamers across the world. Every arcade you walked into you found an NBA Jam machine waiting to gobble up your quarters. Earlier this year, EA Sports announced that NBA Jam would be arriving for the Wii and then later some NBA Jam modes would ship with NBA Elite 11. Well, NBA Elite 11 was delayed than canceled and suddenly we come to find out that NBA Jam will be an actual stand alone retail title for the PS3 and Xbox 360, alongside the Wii version. I値l say it right now that this game is NBA Jam repackaged in modern graphics, so strap on those sneakers and get on the court.
Now I can hardly imagine that there are too many gamers out there that do not know what NBA Jam is. But for those that might be a little younger, or maybe just never cared for the game of basketball then let me tell you what the game is. In NBA Jam, you値l use real life players and legends from the NBA in over the top, high flying 2 on 2 games of basketball. Exaggerated dunks, shots and maneuvers are the name of the game in this arcade classic. EA has done an unbelievable job capturing the original game but updating the visuals as you will hear me emphasize throughout this review.
NBA Jam is a well mixed variation of the original game which contains plenty of original gameplay, but layered in an all new paint job. The graphics throw off a retro feel yet a modern feel at the same time. You値l notice the fairly static crowd and courtside antics but the court action is detailed and highly intense throughout. Flaming nets, balls and lifelike player models are perfectly blended to give a great game experience visually. The player models are just comical to look at, but they are very well done and the big head mode makes it even more comical to watch.
In the audio department, you値l once again have the highly colorful commentary from Tim Kitzrow. Tim was the original game痴 commentator from back in 1993. He brings to life once again many of the one liners we use in everyday language today as well as some new content and even some lines created by fans. The game痴 musical score is a mixture of midi and modern synthesizer which once again emanates that retro feel with a splash of 2010.
So when it comes to game modes, NBA Jam will not let you down. Keeping with the theme of mixing retro and new, you値l find that there are classic games modes as well as brand new variations of the game. One thing the game offers is plenty of unlockables from characters to courts. You値l unlock these items by completing challenges which you can view from the main menu under Jam Challenges. There are even online unlockables. Now unfortunately there are only 26 achievements to be obtained for all of you achievement junkies. The achievements are a mixture of online and offline.
For those of you looking for the single player campaign mode you are in luck. You値l get a Classic campaign mode as well as an all new Remix Tour. In the classic campaign you値l be required to face off against all of the opposing teams in the league with each team progressively getting more talented. You値l play classic 2 on 2 games in the style that made this game such an iconic classic among gamers.
In the Remix Tour you値l start out in a specific division. You値l have to score remix points to unlock new divisions. You値l have bronze, silver and gold Remix challenges to complete to earn those points. For instance, the first challenges I ran across as playing the Miami Heat were Domination 2v2, Smash and Remix 2v2. I値l give a brief description of each game mode in a bit. You値l come up against legends of the game and they'll frustrate the crap out of you at times. But as my fact sheet says, you gotta beat the best to be the best.
The Remix Tour is made up of 5 game variations: Smash, Domination, Elimination, 21 and Remix 2v2. In smash your objective is to smash you opponent痴 backboard making shots. Dunks and Alley-Oops cause the most damage and are the only way to finish off a backboard. In Domination you値l have to score shots from designated spots on the court. Making shots from spots earns you the spot and the other team will have to make a shot in order to take it over. Your ownership for those spots does fade away over time.
Elimination Mode is a last player standing style of game. You値l have to battle for loose balls and keep the score close as the lowest score after each round results in elimination. The mode can be played in a 3 or 4 player mode. 21 is a long range game where you have to score 21 total points to win. Whenever you deny the opponent a shot they値l lose points, but don稚 worry the same can happen to you. Finally we have, Remix 2v2 which is the standard basketball game but with a twist. You値l now have power ups involved. Those power ups are: Power, Quickness, ?, Rubber, Accurracy, and Mini. They are all pretty much self explanatory.
All of the mini games are fun and definitely a change of pace to the normal game, if we even want to call Jam normal that is. All of the games can be played in the Remix Mode option from the main menu. Also included on the main menu is the Boss Battles mode. You値l have to unlock these boss battles by playing through other modes, but here you値l go up against the best legends in the game. I am sure Mr. Jordan isn稚 in the game since he is featured in the 2K franchise this year and he was not part of the original NBA Jam.
There are plenty of multiplayer options available in the game from co-op to versus using either local play or taking your game onto Xbox Live. All of the game modes are available online and you値l have access to extensive Leaderboards as well. At the time of this review, there were only 2 names on the Leaderboard and finding a match was pretty much impossible. So I won稚 pretend to know what the online portion of the game is like but I would expect it to be pretty decent just from what I have played in the single player aspect of the game.
One thing that I definitely have to mention is that EA did a fantastic job with the controls. They maintained the pick up and play aspect of the original NBA Jam by keeping the controls very simple. When you play this game you definitely feel like you are playing the original but with a brand ne coat of paint. You can use buttons or the right thumbstick throughout the entire game. It痴 not always perfect as I noticed when using the right thumbstick exclusively for everything there will be times when you値l have to use a face button such as X or Y to Pump Fake. You値l also have to use the A button to pass as well, so you値l have to figure out what work best for you.
Overall, NBA Jam is solid in almost every aspect. Due to the amount of content in the game is probably why we did not see it released on XBLA rather than as a full retail version. This may irk some folks as they will feel it should have been an XBLA title, but in the end really think this game is well worth its retail price of $49.99. Just the nostalgia alone for a lot of us veteran gamers makes this title worth every penny. NBA Street was ok and all, but NBA Jam is where it痴 at when it comes to arcade basketball. EA has nailed this remake sticking true to what made the game such a hit and classic back in the Arcades. Fans of the game will definitely want to add this new rendition to their gaming libraries.