If you are old enough to remember the NBA Jam franchise, you've probably been justifiably excited about the upcoming EA Sports reboot. VGChartz had the opportunity to get the first ever hands-on demo at the EA Sports Season Opener earlier this month in San Francisco and I can report with a sigh of relief that NBA Jam is back and better than ever. Get ready for some unadulterated fun in the form of over-the-top basketball.
For those who are not aware, NBA Jam is a basketball game that takes nothing serious. The classic games were always 2 vs 2, but in the new version we will be playing 3 vs 3. The games are known for basketball stars making completely impossible dunks, which can shatter the backboard at times. If a player is on a roll with a number of points unanswered, he can become 'on fire', where the basketball is literally smothered in flames. This makes it very simple to drain three-point shots and pull ahead of the opponents. Also worth noting is the exclusion of all fouls except goal tending.
The developers made it a top priority to be true to the classic games. NBA Jam as a franchise has sold millions of copies and has a formula that already works. One of the first things you will notice about the new game are the character models. Real images of NBA players' heads are slapped onto the bodies of the animated basketball players (reminds me of the JibJab cartoons). Each player has six different faces that can be displayed: two dunk faces, a positive and a negative face, a front and a back head shot. Thanks to fans voting on their favorite players, you can expect to see the top stars currently in the NBA included in the game.
If you played the original title, you may remember all the special characters you could unlock, like Bill Clinton for example. I spoke with a member of the development team about the possible inclusion of Barack Obama in the new version of the game and he responded, "I can't say anything for sure, but we know what the fans want and we are trying to get him in the game, but I cannot confirm anything at this point." I personally would not be surprised at all to see President Obama in the game. If he agreed to be a playable character in Mercenaries 2, he should have no problem signing off on NBA JAM. He is a huge basketball fan, after all.
The game will have Solo Play (me vs. computer), Co-op Play (me and you vs. computer), and Competitive Play (me vs you vs him vs her). So there are a handful of options on how you play and who you play with. There are 30 NBA teams to choose from, as well.
On the subject of game modes, half of the game is Classic Mode, which will run you around 8-10 hours of gameplay. This is the portion that will take you back to the early 90's and have you screaming "From Downtown!!" and "BOOM SHAKALAKA!" throughout your house. Then there is a brand new mode titled Remix Mode. No one was able to get their hands on Remix Mode at the event, but the developers told me to expect twists, turns, and surprises from the new mode, which will include secret 2 on 2 boss battles vs legends.
The game played just as you would expect. You can activate turbo and steal using buttons on the remote and nunchuck. For shooting, you need to thrust your controller up in the air to jump and then back down to release the ball. To be honest, It took a couple minutes to get used to and I had a couple of terrible shots in the beginning of the game, but the motion controls soon became second nature.
Overall, the build of the game I played was simple and fun. It was completely reminiscent of the classic games but with redone graphics and players. It seemed like scoring was a bit too easy at times, but this is NBA Jam and you cannot take the game too seriously. The game aims to be as fun as possible and what fun would it be if you couldn't sink a bucket. I played the game with other members of the press, and in five minutes of picking up the Wiimote, we were screaming and hollering at our players as if we were the coach on the sidelines. I'm really looking forward to this game and hope Remix Mode offers up a challenging twist from Classic Mode.
NBA Jam is being developed by EA Sports and will be released for the Wii in Fall 2010. Visit our game database for brand new screenshots of the game.