All of these quotes are immediately recognizable for anyone that grew up with NBA Jam in the 16-bit era. They return with a vengeance in this remarkable portable edition of the 2010 update to the franchise, along with some of the best arcade sports action seen on an iDevice to date.
NBA Jam is based on the updated 2010 console version, as opposed to the original 1993 title, so if you are expecting the original rosters from nearly 17 years ago, you might be slightly disappointed…at least until you get into the actual gameplay. If you have ever wanted to do a 360 triple flip dunk nearly from the half court line, set the hoop on fire all while waiting in line at the supermarket, this is your game. Now if you are looking for a deep and realistic simulator where you need to bail your ballers out of jail on a weekly basis, then you might want to look elsewhere. This game is arcade basketball, pure and simple.
The game is controlled with a virtual thumbstick and a variation on the typical soft buttons for actions, where you can hold the turbo button down and then slide your thumb to the block or pass buttons. It is surprisingly effective for gameplay. The thumbstick controls for movement are precise and sensitive so your player glides around the court with no issue at all. Occasionally your thumbs get in the way, but it isn’t enough to really detract from the enjoyment.
The main mode is the “classic campaign” which you face off versus all the NBA teams one by one. This is the primary way to unlock the majority of the huge number of challenges available which in turn unlock additional basketball superstars, extra game privileges and other goodies to keep you coming back to the hardwood.
There is also a “Play Now” option to quickly get you into the action if you just have to get your dunk on.
Graphically the game looks good and runs at a blazing fast framerate, and no noticeable slowdown, no matter the how insane the 2 on 2 action gets. The over-the-top dunks are just as crazy as ever, even on the small screen which is a pretty impressive feat.
The sound is stellar with great NBA sound effects, and of course “The original voice of NBA Jam” Tim Kitzrow calling the play-by-play with even more amazing catchphrases than ever. A number of the catchphrases are exclusive to the portable version and it really shows that EA put a lot of love into the port. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself chuckling as you play through the game at the absurd lines spouted by the announcer.
This review would be remiss if it did not mention the lack of multiplayer, and it is one of the few things that this game is missing. However, as it stands, it isn’t a huge omission in my opinion, as I prefer the ability to suspend my game mid-quarter and jump back into things on a moment’s notice. If I want to play with others, I’ll hop on my console and dedicate some time to it. For a mobile experience, there is no comparison.
I played a pretty ridiculous number of hours of NBA Jam on the 360 and still am enjoying the iOS version immensely, I really think that alone speaks volumes about how much fun the core gameplay can be.
NBA Jam is one of the most entertaining pick up and play sports games available on iDevices, and even without multiplayer, fans of the classic games should not pass this app up.