NBA Jam: Five Things We Need in an Arcade Style NBA Video Game

Philip LombardoCorrespondent IOctober 6, 2010

Everyone remembers sitting in front of your box TV as a child, playing on your Nintendo 64, Super Nintendo, or Sega Genesis and wishing you were Michael Jordan dunking from the foul line or Jerry Rice catching a long bomb.

The best part about it was, the more unrealistic, the more fun the game was. 

Video games like NFL Blitz, NHL Hitz, and NBA Jam were what it was all about.  The bulging muscles, the bone shattering hits, and the ability to defy gravity and all rules of physics made the games exciting and the fun never ended. 

Since then, we have grown older and we have turned into a generation where graphics and realistic sports games are what sells.  The Madden, NHL, and NBA 2K franchises have all been very successful, setting a new bar each year, and making the games as close to the real action as possible.

Many companies have attempted to recreate these old school "arcade-style" video games to attract a wide range of audiences.  With certain NFL and NHL games, they have been successful.  NFL Street and NHL Arcade were very well made and made a good amount of money. But every time an arcade-style NBA game comes out—even the new NBA Jam 2010—it's a complete flop.

There are certain things that a gamer wants when he is playing an arcade style basketball game, or any arcade style sports game for that matter. 

Here are my top five essentials for the next modern day NBA Jam video game.


1. Real Names Please!

So many times when I look at different sports video games, the players that are featured in these games aren't even real people.  They are characters made up from the creator's head, making the game seem even less authentic than it previously was. 

People these days enjoy playing a game with their favorite players included in the game.  I would much rather dunk on you with Josh Smith than "Jaques Smiff."  Its not nearly as fun when the professionals aren't part of the game.


2. Bonus Shots

Now, I don't know if anyone remembers NBA Courtside for Nintendo 64, but it had Kobe Bryant on the cover and cool feature called Arcade Mode where spots would show up on the court every so often that represented five points, 10 points, and 15 points.  If you shot from that spot before it faded away, you received that many points.

This made the games a lot more high scoring, and made any deficit surmountable.  Its no fun when you are up by 30, so this would give players a chance to make a comeback at any point in the game.

3. Power-Ups

In the old NBA Jam, if you made three or four shots in a row with a player, he would be "on fire."  He would then be able to run a little faster, jump A LOT higher, and dunk from basically anywhere over half court.

That was fun and all, but what if you expanded on that even more?

You could get different power-ups for making threes, blocking shots, stealing the ball, and dunking.  Certain power-ups could include a bigger basket, speed boosts, freezing a defender for a short period of time, and monster mode, where your player grows twice the size of a normal human being.

These are only suggestions, but they would definitely interest a lot of people because of how unique the game would be.


4. Ultimate Free Throw Distractions

The newer NBA2K games allow you to shake the screen during free throws if you are the home team, and I like that idea, but for this game, think a little more outside the box.

If a player misses a free throw, or has a history of struggling from the charity stripe, he could have different distractions that would make it harder to shoot, thus making each players free throw percentage more representative of what it is in real life.

For example, when Shaq is shooting, you could have the lights randomly flicker on and off, or the backboard could have psychedelic colors flashing all over it.  Maybe in Phoenix, the Ape mascot does a dance or the Atlanta Hawk flies in front of the screen if you are playing the Hawks.

With this feature, the possibilities are quite abundant.


5. Ron Artest Mode

Now I'm not one to promote violence.  Well, at least in sports games.  It gives the league a bad image and it can hurt players reputations, so this one is purely for entertainment value. 

If one of your players is having a really rough game—I'm talking about a 2-15 FG, six point performance—and he is one of your stars, he can start something with another player.  If your opponent decides he has had enough of your antics, he can agree to throw down with you for a short period of time before the referees, your teammates, and coaches break it up. 

Now, even if this wouldn't hurt anyone's image, it would be very hard to simulate in a video game, but it would be extremely funny and I would probably buy the game solely for it having this feature.  I know a few other people who would agree with me too.

In a world where video games are very popular and have turned into a part of culture itself, we need to bring back these arcade-style video games to help us aging adults recapture a part of our childhood, one "MONSTER JAM" at a time.