Boomshakalaka!!! Not in your vocabulary? It bloody well will be after two hours of almost sporting perfection from…Acclaim? Am I kidding? I am not! Basketball sims have been done before, badly, but NBA Jam actually takes its lead from the very mediocre Arch Rivals. But what was good about Arch Rivals has transferred itself across here (controlling one player, being able to give commands to your teammate) with better graphics, sound, presentation, the lot.
Talking of the presentation, it is excellent. The intro screens are all bright and well drawn, the music and sound effects introduce a very American affair. You can choose to be any of the franchised teams at the time, these are made up of what Acclaim has determined are the best two players or players that suit each other. Once the action begins, a well drawn and coloured court greets you accompanied by paparazzi-esque fans, aiming to blind you at every opportunity. The sprites are well defined and the animation gives them a grace you’d expect of Scottie Pippen, Sir Charles Barkley etc…
The gameplay is excellent, depending on your character you can fling in mammoth 3-pointers or slam dunk at will. The dunking in particular can be extremely pleasurable, depending on the angle at which you run to the hoop, whether your finger is locked on the turbo and the moment at which you press the shoot button – you can execute some of the most ludicrous dunking known to man. In fact, they’re so ridiculous an actual man could never do them. Realism isn’t what NBA Jam is about, NBA Jam is about fun.
And it also seems it’s about defeating all the franchised teams, systematically, and this is the entire game for the solo player. Why there isn’t a play-off mode, god only knows. You literally have to defeat each team in a certain order and they’re not difficult to beat, even the all-conquering Chicago Bulls. This means that the actual challenge can be over very quickly. Having said that, this game is immense fun for two players and if you have a Sega tap then four players can do battle. As with a lot of Mega Drive sports sims, the core game is amazing but it lacks options to improve longevity for the solo player.
Get it, and then invite some friends, cos this ain’t gonna last long, yeehah!