NBA Jam Review by: j0hanNBA Jam
Sports genre, meet your soul mate: Action! Get ready to hit the courts with the classic game that revolutionized the sports genre! The developers at Midway saw a big problem with the current state on sports games in the late 80s and early 90s: they were relatively slow paced, even boring. Controls and game-play were often difficult and hard to learn. Basically, this meant that most sports titles ostracized a key demographic: teens and preteens. Success within the genre paled in comparison to platformers like Sonic and Mario. So the folks at Midway set out to create a game that not just adult males would want to play, but also their kids. They released the game initially to arcades where it outshone competitors, leading to its home console version.
The controls and game-play of NBA Jam were deliberately simplified. Rather than a full roster, the game's officially licensed NBA teams consisted of its two best known players and games were played 2-on-2. All rules (besides a shot-clock and goal-tending) were thrown out the window, turning elbowing into an art form (playing against an expert "elbow-er" inevitably led to shouts of "Hey, no fair!"). Sinking baskets really took no skill, just an in-game player with good stats. Play as Shaq or Abdul-Jabbar and the threes would drop like flies. To add some action, in-game physics (or lack there-of) allowed players to jump twice their own height, spinning and twisting mid-dunk. Three consecutive shots and the player was officially declared "On Fire!" giving him increased speed and accuracy, and setting the ball ablaze, of course. Getting into on-fire mode late in the third or fourth quarters gave the player the chance of realizing every kid's dream: shattering the backboard.
These changes set NBA Jam apart and above its fellow sports titles, redefining the genre and launching a series of sequels that continue to this day.
Would have been a 10 if a little more detail was given to the crowd. To compare graphics, NBA Jam was better than Sonic, but falls short of Jurassic Park. On a positive note, half-time reports featured a live-action (albeit very low resolution) video of Micheal Jordan dunking. A first back then.
There could have been more music tracks, even for a Sega game. The lack there-of is probably due to the game being originally designed for arcade play. However, the in-game announcer's trademark phrases were heard on playground and driveway courts country-wide: "Boom-shaka-laka!" "He's on fire!!"
As a little kid then, I played this game over, and over, and over. And over. (and over) There was nothing like dunking my step-dad into a quibbling, emasculated pile of goo. The game was great for having friends over, which meant it was definitely very re-playable.
Absolutely no depth beyond playing each game and trying to get better. No career mode, manager mode, fantasy draft or anything similar. This also was probably due to its original arcade format.
As stated above, the game was deliberately simplified for kids in arcades.
I know the average adds up to like 6.2 or something, but I boosted it to 7 because of its originality and the fact that it changed the genre so much. (You're welcome Midway.)