The NBA season is underway, and whether you're a fan of the world champion Los Angeles Lakers or you're a loyal Warriors fan wondering when it'll finally be time to believe again. That time has become because NBA Jam is back.
What is it?
If you've never heard of the NBA Jam series, you must be really young. Because of its outrageous gameplay, NBA Jam was once the pinnacle of basketball games. Dunks from the free throw line, the lack of referees, and an incredibly boisterous commentator were what kept NBA Jam enjoyable and while it has been taken over by the likes of EA Sports, the return of NBA Jam hasn't taken away any of its charm and style.
Why should I care?
NBA Jam isn't your standard basketball game. While it can be just as frustratingly challenging as NBA 2K11, it's nowhere near as complex. What sets the series apart from the rest is the fact that you can do almost anything. The lack of referees means you can foul all you want. While there isn't any gruesome stuff you'll find in NFL Blitz, checking players hard into the ground is fine. Defense is actually key to success in NBA Jam.
But while that may be the case, the real joy in NBA Jam comes from how incredibly fun it is. It's 2-on-2 action where pretty much every way of scoring points is by dunking from impossible distances. It doesn't matter if you're using the newly stacked Heat or the lowly Clippers; the attributes hardly even matter. It's all about having your NBA all-stars on fire defying gravity in every way possible while having Tim Kitzrow yell annoying yet satisfying one-liners.
What makes it worth my money?
This is where things get complicated. Originally intended to be a Wii exclusive, the bulk of the gameplay and modes were designed to be "Wii-centric." It wasn't until the game was announced as an add-in with NBA Elite 11 when fans started salivating over HD versions. But as must of us know, Elite was cancelled, and instead of pouring salt on the wound of all the excited Xbox 360 and PS3 owners, EA Sports released tangible HD versions of the game for both consoles.
The main difference between the HD and Wii version is the fact that the Wii version features motion controls (aside from use of the Classic Controller) and the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions feature online play. While online play may be a huge factor to some, it really isn't because there's nothing that makes the mode stand out. It's a lot more satisfying playing the game with three other friends and insulting them as Kitzrow makes some insane comment.
There are a handful of modes aside from the simple 2-on-2, but the majority of them seem more like distractions than they do as modes. The main ones worth mentioning are Smash Mode where the object of the game is to shatter the backboard with dunks and 21, a game mostly known to street ball fans. While the modes aren't that great, the one thing that will keep people playing will be the fact that there is so much unlockable content. There are NBA legends like Larry Bird–which you really have to work hard to earn, seriously. And you even have bizarre teams such as the Democrats and Republicans for some wonderful political basketball.
NBA Jam is a whole bunch of fun through and through. Wii owners will appreciate it more than others because it's the best basketball game available for the system and while the PS3 or Xbox 360 version aren't bad, the fact that we once assumed that it would be available for under $20 via Marketplace or the PlayStation Store leave much to be desired for a $50 package. Either way you look at it, the NBA options gamers have to choose from this year are great, and NBA Jam is not only a great nostalgic look at the court, but it offers an enjoyable experience for those who just love breaking the rules.