NBA Jam Review (iPhone)

Game Review: NBA Jam
Release: Feb 10, 2011
Developer: Electronic Arts Inc.
MSRP: $4.99
Rating: (Age) 4+
Version: 1.0
Size: 262 MB

For those of us who have been playing basketball games since Double Dribble came out for the NES, NBA Jam still holds a warm place in our hearts.  Sure, it wasn’t the most realistic game in the world, but the over-the-top dunks and outrageous facial expressions made NBA Jam one of the greatest basketball video game of all time.  Luckily, EA succeeded again in their iPhone remake of the 1993 classic, offering the same high-octane, overly extravagant gameplay as its predecessor in the palm of your hand.

NBA Jam offers two different gameplay modes:

  • Play Now
  • Classic Campaign

Play Now allows you to start a quick game for which you choose both your team and the opposing team.  Classic Campaign lets players choose from over 30 teams and play through a 37 game season.  The numerous challenges, which can be viewed from the menu screen, add a good amount of replay value to the game, as players can go back and attempt to unlock new characters and play modes.

Maybe the one disappointing aspect of NBA Jam is the lack of a multiplayer mode.  Anyone who played the game back 90s knows that half the fun of NBA Jam involved messing around with your friends, delivering full court passes and executing ridiculous alley-oop dunks.  Unfortunately, the iPhone version only allows for one-person gameplay, but this isn’t enough to ruin the game.

The controls for NBA Jam aren’t the best on the iPhone, but they certainly get the job done.  The default control setup, which is an arcade-style control setup, places a joystick at the right side of the screen and buttons for various actions (jump/shoot/steal/pass) on the right side.  The game also offers the option to use gesture control, in which the player uses the left side of the screen for navigation and swipes the right side of the screen for action controls.   Either control setup is easy enough to use, and once you get used to shooting, stealing, and pushing the game feels much more natural.

The creators of NBA Jam for the iPhone stayed true to the original as far as graphics go.  One of the major draws of the original game on SNES was the full licensing of the NBA teams obtained by the games creators, which allowed players to play with their favorite NBA stars on their Nintendo, absurd facial expressions and all.  In the iPhone remake, this is still the case.  Whether you want to see a big-headed Kobe’s flash a cocky smirk or watch Blake Griffin exhibit his dunk face, you won’t be disappointed.

Additionally, the background looks extremely polished.  In particular, the court looks very realistic on the iPhone screen, and the crowd in the background is reminiscent of the game’s 90s counterpart.  Even more, the audio in the game is superb, delivering top-notch commentary and sound effects that make you feel like you’re watching a real game (not really though).

What improvements can be done: EA needs to get on the multiplayer bandwagon and start offering it to players. This brings a lot more replay value to the table and should keep Players coming back for more.

Jimmy’s final say: Overall, NBA Jam (link) is a solid buy for any basketball fan.  The game lacks the fun of multiplayer, and the campaign can seem a bit tedious at times, but the game’s fluid controls, refined graphics, and the numerous unlockables available make the game perhaps the best basketball game on the iPhone.


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