NBA Jam Review

A sports classic from the 16-bit era of gaming returns with a graphical overhaul. Will it be a Slam Dunk or an Alley Oops?

Let it be known, I never buy sports games. I can happily go the rest of my life without playing the newest Pro Evo or the inevitable FIFA updates. However, there is one game which is an exception to that. The game is NBA Jam. 15 years ago it exploded into arcades and home consoles and became an instant classic.  I am happy to say, that not a single feature has changed, except for the graphics, which are fantastic! NBA Jam is all about 2 on 2 over the top, crazy, hectic basketball games. This updated Wii version is a fantastic opportunity for new gamers to experience the unique style, whilst giving a feel of nostalgia to us oldies.

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The best thing about NBA Jam is the ability to pick up and play within minutes. I struggled to win any games at first but soon I was on top, performing super slam dunks and tricks with ease. There are a number of control methods to choose from, depending on your preference. I opted for the side on remote style as it reminded me of the SNES game all those years back. You can use the Wiimote to jump and shoot but I found this option to be rather tricky not 100% responsive. There are options to use the Nunchuck and Classic Controller, but I must admit I found these felt inferior. The only gripe I had was that you only control one character at a time, and switching between characters often felt delayed.

The game is incredibly fast paced, never letting up for a second. The games are by default nice and short; however these can be customised for longer periods of play. The aim of the game is simple, to score points. However the more points you score in a row lets you unleash super moves, which usually involve your player jumping 50 foot in the air, the ball igniting and destroying the basket upon being dunked. This cues the commentator to unleash a torrent of Americanised chants and phrases, such as the famous “boooyakasha” which the original made famous. One of the best aspects of the game is that there are no strict rules which are common in typical basketball sims.  It is all about being as far from reality as possible, which makes it the best game of its type in years. New modes such as the Boss Battle mode add more challenge and unlockable characters, including some familiar faces.

The single player mode is decent enough but the game really shines in multiplayer. When reviewing the game, I had mate join me who had never played before. We had an absolute blast playing together. It is such a different game when playing a human as it really is a test of your skills. I would have loved to play this with four players as I can only imagine how great it would be with four friends. Unfortunately there is no option play the game online. This is a huge letdown in this day and age and really is confusing why the developers left this out.

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Graphically, NBA Jam has an incredibly unique style. The backgrounds and characters look photorealistic, like the original game, however this time the faces seem to be mapped using real photos of the players. Everything moves fluidly and there are some excellent effects such as when the ball is on fire and obliterates the basket. The backgrounds are not as great, looking rather flat and outdated, but the action is so fast, it really is of little importance. A nice touch is the reflective court surface which adds a bit of polish, literally.  Music wise it’s the expected hip-hop, rap style, which is bearable, but is totally overshadowed by the commentator. It wouldn’t be NBA Jam without him, and all of the classic phrases are here.

NBA Jam is a fantastic game. With friends, it is offers some of the best multiplayer experience on the Wii. The single player game is decent by itself but offers little replay value after the game is beaten. It is criminal that online multiplayer is not included and really does hurt the game.  Still, it is an absolute blast play and should not be missed.

Hugely satisfying, over the top game play
Brilliant unique style & excellent animations
Excellent commentator but music is annoying
8.5Final Score

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