Game review: NBA Jam
Developer: EA Canada
Available Platforms: Wii, Xbox 360, PS3
Boomshakalaka! NBA Jam is the newest in the series that started with the classic arcade game of the same name. Don’t expect a super realistic basketball sim with NBA Jam. You can expect backboards shattering, 20 foot high dunks, legendary players, basketballs on fire and more.
NBA Jam is an arcade basketball game for 1-4 players. There are lots of different modes to play. The classic NBA Jam games are simple. 3 minute quarters where you can pass, shoot, dribble steal, shove, and (most importantly) dunk! You won’t be hard pressed to figure out how to play. Nearly all the controls can be done with just the two analog sticks. If you’re alone you can play the classic campaign which has you playing teams in the NBA and even some legendary players. With some friends you can jump into a classic match right from the main menu.
NBA Jam also adds some new modes to the mix. These new modes are different but capture the fun from the classic games. My favorite of these new modes is Smash. In Smash your goal is to break your opponents’ back board before they break yours. I’m impressed with how well all the new modes fit in the NBA Jam formula.
One of the most fun new features is the Boss Battle. EA has taken some of the best players in NBA history and made them into bosses. Guys like Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Lebron James, Shaq and many more. Each player gets their own special powers. Some are easy to beat. Others will dominate you. Larry Bird can score 9 points with one shot. Magic Johnson will teleport around the court and dunk like crazy. Every boss battle is goofy and fun.
No matter what mode you’re playing, NBA Jam is super fun. It is fast paced, goofy, and just a blast to play. The game never takes anything seriously. The announcer will make you laugh out loud. NBA Jam wants to let you have fun from the second you start the game and it succeeds. It also lets anyone join in on the fun. The controls take just minutes to get down. The person I played with doesn’t play many games and doesn’t care about basketball at all. We were both playing and laughing within 5 minutes of our first match.
There are tons of things to unlock in the game, from legendary players to boss battles to different colored basketballs. I wish that all of it was unlocked from the beginning. NBA Jam isn’t the kind of game that I expected to have to play for long periods of time to unlock things. It would have been better to simply have access to most everything from the beginning. Also, the A.I. is usually pretty good for both your opponents and teammate but every once in a while your teammate will just stand under the hoop while someone goes for a shot. It can be frustrating in tight games. Fortunately, it doesn’t happen very often.
NBA Jam has some faults but they don’t come close to ruining the game. The original NBA Jam was known for fast pace fun and this new version retains that magic. Even more impressive is how the new modes keep that old magic too. This game demands you get some friends together and play it!
-fast paced arcade fun
-too much to have to unlock
-great new modes
-occasionally dumb A.I.
-light and hilarious tone. Boomshakalaka!
8 out of 10