NBA Jam: Finally a Basketball Video Game Worth Playing

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NBA Jam: Finally a Basketball Video Game Worth Playing

Every boy growing up in the '90s remembers listening to iconic phrases like "razzle dazzle" or "HE'S ON FIRE" while playing hours of NBA Jam, either at home or in an arcade.  The easy game play, the lack of rules, and the monster dunks and blocks were all appealing to gamers, despite the lack of aesthetic sophistication.  These same (now mostly grown-up) gamers have even applied some of the same NBA Jam rules to certain college drinking games. 

The NBA Jam franchise, however, lost steam in the mid and late '90s and was eventually shelved. While games have become more graphically sophisticated and intricate, the difficultly of game play for games like Madden and most of the first-person shooters has turned off the casual gamer.

Basketball games in particular (this means you, NBA Live) have difficult game play and seemingly arbitrary player ratings (I've literally hit more than 10 threes in a row with Steve Nash). Also, if I make a nice pass or move in a video game, I expect to be rewarded with points, not a clang off the rim.

On October 5th, however, NBA Jam was revived under the EA Sports umbrella.  Playing NBA Jam is something I remember fondly from my childhood and I was apprehensive about the return of the franchise, especially if it didn't remain true to the campy feel of the original.

My fears, however, were unfounded.  The reincarnated NBA Jam retains the simplicity of the old game and rewards players with easy scoring, exciting play, announcing by Tim Kitzrow, and one rule—no goaltending.  All of the same high-flying dunks, "He's on fire" rules, and alley-oops are there.  You can still push, body check, and otherwise manhandle opponents as long as you obey the one rule.  NBA Jam has also managed to update their graphics without losing the feel of the original, and player representations and facial expressions are impressive.

Though NBA Jam is best played against a friend, the classic campaign mode is still available.  You can climb the ladder, playing each NBA team until you've beaten the entire league.  It also has a variety of gimmick modes, allowing you to play 21 and Elimination.  The other interesting addition is "backboard smash" mode.  In "backboard smash" there is no score just a health meter.  The object is to weaken and eventually break the opponents' backboard with baskets, particularly rim-rattling dunks.

Like the old game, you can still unlock players and creatures.  You can play with all the retro stars (still no Michael Jordan) and even a few political figures.  This game evokes the nostalgia of the original and is a sure win for EA Sports.  Those who played the original and anyone who loves exciting game play are sure to appreciate the new NBA Jam.

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