NBA Jam Review


Back in the glory days of arcades, there were three words/phrases that everyone knew and everyone could identify.

One was Hadoken. Another was "GET OVER HERE!" The third? "BOOM-SHAKA-LAKA!"

Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat were classic fighters, but NBA Jam set the standard for classic arcade sports. Other sports (NFL with Blitz, NHL with Open Ice Challenge) tried to copy the over-the-top action to varying degrees of success, but there’s no beating the original. Now, that original is back and better than ever, as the Wii iteration of NBA Jam has just enough new content mixed in with the classic formula to make a successful return to the video game fray.

The game controls are just what you remember: shoot/block, pass/steal, turbo, and shove. While the Wii Remote/Nunchuk setup is comfortable, I preferred playing just like I used to by plugging in the Classic Controller. I’d like to personally say thank you to EA, because this control scheme brought me right back to NBA Jam T.E. mode, and it was like I never stopped playing. Graphically, the players are just as exaggerated as they used to be, the main difference being the actual facial expressions. EA went through great trouble scanning multiple faces into their game for each player (even the hidden ones), and their attention to detail should not go unnoticed. Hell, Patrick Ewing’s dunk face made it into the game, and that’s something basketball fans haven’t seen in eight years.


Gameplay is the same zany basketball action that fans enjoyed back in the old days. Players jump to insane heights for dunks and blocks, defenders can shove their opponents halfway across the court, and after three straight baskets, the net is set ablaze. If you’ve ever played NBA Jam before, you know what you’re getting yourself into. Tim Kitzrow brings the nostalgia full circle, once again supplying his voice for the iconic "He’s on fire!" and "Boom-shaka-laka!" while adding some new sayings, including "boom goes the dynamite!"

Now, don’t think for a second that EA just re-coated the old game and sent it to stores. They did add new modes and features to the game to keep everything fresh. Remix Tour is a run through the campaign with extra modifiers, like power-ups and point "hotspots" (which savvy players might remember from the original’s selection of cheat codes), while 1-on-1 Boss Battle is easily the most challenging of the new modes (damn you, Magic Johnson!). There’s also an assortment of multiplayer modes, including 21 (first to 21 wins) and elimination (lowest point total after a period is out). Unfortunately, that multiplayer is limited, as no online functionality was added to the game. In this day and age, this is a major disappointment. There are also a multitude of unlockables; legends, mascots, politicians, musicians, and even the ESPN Sportsnation crew have all found their way onto the hardwood. Obama and Al Gore versus MCA and Ad-Rock of the Beastie Boys? Yes please!

If you were a fan of the originals, NBA Jam‘s Wii-make will send you back to a ’90s-era arcade in no time. If you haven’t, and you want to experience great arcade-style sports action, look no further than the Jam.

4 out of 5


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Myspace
  • Google Buzz
  • Reddit
  • Stumnleupon
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Technorati
Author: Jason Fanelli View all posts by
Jason lives and breathes gaming. Legend tells that he taught himself to read using Wheel of Fortune Family Edition on the NES. He's been covering this industry for three years, all with the Node, and you can see his ugly mug once a week on Hot Off The Grill.

Leave A Response

You must be logged in to post a comment.