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NBA Jam review


  • NBA Jam review

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ID:	602396I spent much of my youth in Adelaide, South Australia. Unlike today, Hindley street was alive with video game arcades. The Twilight Zone, Downtown, Timezone Meridian and The Tilt most famously. Spending hours, days and nights traversing them are times I still remember fondly, pumping coin upon coin into Offroad, Virtua Cop, Daytona, Tecmo World Soccer and, yes, NBA Jam.

    So, unsurprisingly, when I discovered NBA Jam was being given a breath of fresh air not just on the Wii, but in HD on the PS3 and Xbox 360, I was ecstatic. Needless to say, I've spent the last couple of weeks grinding through the campaigns as well as playing online. But mostly importantly, I sat down with some friends for some good old fashion local multiplayer matches.

    Have no doubt, NBA Jam looks great. It has been masterfully stylised, faithfully recreating the look and feel of the original. There's nothing too out of place here, bar a some minor shortcomings such as some low resolution assets spotted even in this "HD" version.

    I'd argue that more importantly than the visuals was the game's audio, and more specifically the commentary, which played such a large part in the game's entertainment value. Thankfully, this too has been faithfully recreated, bringing Tim Kitzrow back to the microphone and ensuring the commentary is just as brilliant as we remember it. "He's on fire", "boom-shakalaka" and more - they're all there, ready to draw chuckles from new players and nostalgic tears from the old.
    "Not much has changed, it's still just as brilliantly simple and as fast paced as it ever was."

    Right, onto what really made NBA Jam so great. The gameplay. That exaggerated, ridiculous, now famous arcade basketball gameplay. Breaking backboards, shoving players to the ground and flipping 15 metres into the air as you bring your flaming ball down for a cheer worthy slam dunk - and humiliation of your opposition. Not much has changed, it's still just as brilliantly simple and as fast paced as it ever was.

    There is an attempt to introduce some new types of play for both multiplayer and campaign paths, with five game modes in total, all putting something extra in the mix with that original 2v2 format. Unfortunately, the additional modes haven't done enough to differentiate themselves from the core gameplay, nor deliver experiences that could be considered anything except a developer's failed attempt to fill-out the game.

    Of course, multiplayer is where the most fun is to be had. At least, you would think so. Playing online was near impossible during the sessions that I made an attempt. Latency was the biggest problem, due to a what is clearly a poorly considered net-code. Expect to press pass, and have it happen moments later. Likewise, expect to try and move in one direction, only to see it happen later after a delay. This problem may be exclusive to those playing each other from different regions, but it's a big problem no less.

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ID:	602253Thankfully, local multiplayer was flawless and truly fun. That nostalgic trip I had been yearning for had finally been delivered. It was the whole package. The distinct visual style, the commentary, the wild gameplay. And even the arcade antics; trash talk, attempts at distraction, screams and cheers. Alas, it was still somewhat lacking. I don't know if it's my age, the fact I've done it all before, or my higher expectations of what a game should be. Despite my enjoyment, the experience just wasn't as compelling as it once was.

    There's no question about it, NBA Jam is good fun, even if no longer great fun. I didn't begin playing NBA Jam with unrealistic expectations. I expected and wanted no more than a recreation of the original. So I should be delighted then, as essentially that's what I got. Oh, if only it were that simple.

    It's the game I remember and the game I wanted - but times have changed, and I've changed. Arcades are very nearly extinct and LAN events are in decline, so with online as the only replacement, it's inexcusable that NBA Jam performs so badly there. I'm also a little disappointed that more from the original's era wasn't captured to really capatalise on that generation of players. Amidst the contemporary roster there just weren't enough classic stars included.

    Don't let my grumpy, jaded opinion turn you off the game though. Looking at things as objectively as I can, it's still a fantastic game to own, and one worth holding on to even when you're done with it. It's easy to pick up, easy to play, and it really is a fun game. My PS3 copy has been tucked away with ModNation Racers as one to drag out for dinner parties, LAN parties, and party parties.

    If there is one thing that should stop you buying the game, it's the AUD $79 price tag. It should have always been released for much, much less on on XBLA and PSN instead of a retail disc. Thus the small and simple game, just over 1GB in size, has received a suitably short review. Many of you may want to wait for this one to hit the bargain bin before picking it up, and I don't blame you.
    Attached Files

    • CyphiX
      CyphiX commented
      Editing a comment
      Originally posted by Ratty
      Thought i'd add an update to this, the new arcade NBA JAM On Fire Edition is EPIC.Not only does it have the nostalgia feel, but the enhanced features, game modes, teams, updated visuals and commentary makes it well worth the purchase on console for a measly 1200 points.
      Next drinking sesh at yours it's on

    • KidCynic
      KidCynic commented
      Editing a comment
      it says reviewed on PC

    • rec
      rec commented
      Editing a comment
      Oops, wrong graphic. Was reviewed on PS3 - will fox.
    Posting comments is disabled.

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