Reviewed by Michael LoCascio
NBA Jam was all the rage when Acclaim released it in the
arcades a number of years back. At a time when most game
companies were striving to match Electronic Arts and produce
the most realistic sports simulations possible, NBA Jam
represented a step in the opposite direction. Realism wasn't
a concern when Acclaim was designing this title; NBA Jam is
all about fast, wacky fun - and every now and then it
occasionally resembles a basketball game.
The question that comes up whenever an arcade game is
brought to a home console is, How does the home version
stack up to the quarter muncher? Thankfully, Acclaim did a
very solid job of converting NBA Jam for the Sega Genesis.
Just about every element that made the arcade version such a
blast to play is present here, with some obvious differences
in graphics and sound.
You can select from any of the real NBA clubs in this game,
but you can only use two players from each club. No
substitutions here; the same players that you begin the game
with are the ones who you'll be stuck with for the duration
of the game. NBA Jam is a two-on-two contest that spans four
3-minute quarters. Acclaim essentially took the two best
players from each team, with a few noticeable exceptions (no MJ).
While the concept of two-on-two NBA basketball may seem
atypical enough, wait until you see the game in action.
You'll basically run up and down the court, performing
outrageous dunks and throwing up three-point bombs over and
over again. Just about every shot that you'll take will go
in, whether it be a simple lay-up or a heave from midcourt.
Your only hope of beating the opposition is to steal the
ball away from them as often as you can and get off just a
few more shots than they do. The only types of shots that
you'll probably ever use are the slams and the
three-pointers, because these kinds of shots are exciting
and fun to watch. Who wants to see a simple fifteen-footer
when you can routinely perform a 360-degree slam?
Each player has a certain amount of "turbo" to make use
of. Underneath your player's name, there will be a small
meter representing his turbo power. Using turbo will allow
your player to move and act faster. When turbo is not in
use, the meter will quickly refill. This feature makes an
already fast-paced game that much faster. Besides the
fantastic slams, the speed of NBA Jam is the most appealing
aspect of the game. The game play of this cart is quite a
contrast to the snail-like pace of EA's Lakers vs. Celtics games.
Contributing to the rapid pace of the game is the fact that
there aren't any fouls in NBA Jam. Feel free to knock your
opponents to the floor when you're stealing the ball from
them. The only time the action stops is when a basket is
scored - and the delay amounts to the one second it takes to
inbound the ball. The game will call you on goaltending;
with the incredible jumping skills that most of the players
in the game possess, it would be quite easy to block just
about every shot that's thrown up if this one rule weren't
There isn't very much technique involved in the game. As
long as you get your player close enough to the basket, you
can rest assured that he'll perform some sort of ridiculous
slam (and "close enough" can sometimes mean the
three-point line). You'll most likely convert one shot after
another; hit three shots consecutively and you'll be "on
fire" (seemed to me like everyone was "on fire" already,
but I digress). Now, you'll be able to hit your shots with
an even higher success rate, perform a few more impressive
dunks, and magically cause flames to rise from the ball
whenever you touch it.
While the game is more enjoyable in its multiplayer mode,
solo play is somewhat interesting in that you can control
one player throughout the entire game and allow the
to take care of your teammate. You can make your
computerized teammate shoot or pass the ball whenever you
desire, but his movements and his play on defense will be no
concern of yours. You can just focus on your player and let
the take care of the other guy.
There are quite a few options that you can tinker with in
NBA Jam, but most of them are inconsequential. You cannot
adjust the length of the quarters from three minutes, but
you can determine how quickly the game clock winds down. You
can also adjust the difficulty of the game, but it's a
pretty easy contest regardless of the settings you choose.
By utilizing your turbo, you can fly right by defenders and
basically dunk at will. The opposition starts to play a
little harder (and a little dirtier) come the fourth and
final quarter, but by that time you'll probably have a very
substantial lead on them.
The graphics in this version of NBA Jam are pretty decent
when judged on their own, but they don't even come close to
the visuals in the arcade game. The players in the arcade
version were noticeably larger, and they looked even bigger
the closer that they got to the camera. The players in the
Genesis game are somewhat small and not very detailed, and
they remain the same size regardless of where they are on
the court. The sound in this title is very good, however.
The announcer's voice is quite clear, although you'll
sometimes wonder if he's watching the same game as you are
(he has a tendency to say things like "ugly shot" even
when the shot is perfectly good).
While you'll probably get tired of NBA Jam's one-player mode
very quickly, multiplayer contests can continually provide
hours and hours of fun. If realism is what you're looking
for, then you'd probably be better off with the EA Sports
basketball titles. But if you just want some outrageous
basketball action that you can enjoy with a few friends,
this might be the game you're looking for.
Overall: 6 / 10