Developer: Electronic Arts Inc.
Price: $4.99 Download on the App Store
I am currently in embroiled in a basketball battle of epic proportions. And no, it has nothing to do with my beloved Trailblazers hanging on by a thread in the playoffs or the fact that my first hometown team the Seattle Supersonics are no longer super or sonic. My battle is with NBA JAM, the greatest action-packed basketball game of all time. The amount of hours I spent boomshakalakaing while heating up and anticipating hearing those sweet, sweet words "He's on Fire!" is second only to the amount of time I now spend on my iPad.
And what do you know, NBA JAM is now available on the iPad and yes, I am in heaven. And while I consider myself a thumb warrior, will this app live up to its lineage of "over-the-top, high-flying, 2-on-2 arcade basketball action just like you remember it?"
Yes, a resounding yes. From its intuitive controls and surprisingly fast graphics to its WiFi and Bluetooth local multiplayer options, NBA JAM is a 10 out of 10 in every way.
Before I go into the full review, I want to offer up a bit of a history lesson. For me, games have been in my life for quite some time. While I’m a little young for the Atari days, Nintendo and Mario Bros. opened my eyes up to a vast world of side-scrolling 2D fast-action fun that would be the standard for what seemed like ages.
Fast forward and more robust gaming consoles such as the Super NES brought arcade-ported games such as NBA JAM. The quickness of the players as well as the high-flying dunks were an instant hit for me and many others. I’m reluctant to say just how many hours I spent playing this game, but rest assured, it was a lot.
What intrigued me the most about NBA JAM being ported to the iPad was how it would perform without the huge processing prowess of say and XBOX or Playstation console. Much to my happiness, I clicked on the app icon and the game fired right up after a few seconds of load time.
After downloading and installing the app, you’re presented with play now, campaign and multiplayer options. Select play now if you just want to start draining threes and dunking over your opponents as well as skip the below unless you want a more in-depth review.
In the play now section, you’re prompted to enter your initials and then choose between difficulties of rookie and veteran. If you’re just getting back into the game, I recommend selecting rookie or be subjected to some very fierce veteran gameplay. The next menu prompts you to choose a home and away team and that’s it.
Luckily, the game automatically runs you through how to jump, pass, run faster, shoot, dunk, etc. After starting the game, you also have the option of choosing the much easier arcade controls mode or the gesture option, which is not easy to master. You can also select the tag mode to switch between players. This is very handy when you start to realize that the CPU isn’t as smart of player as you.
The easiest way around keeping the CPU from shooting is to run towards the basket and select the dunk option and the CPU will alley-oop to you every time for a spectacular jam.
My favorite mode is the classic campaign where you can take your favorite two-person team and go head-to-head against 37 of the best duos in the NBA. It’s definitely a lengthy option, but well worth it as it gives you a chance to truly test your abilities as a basketball legend.
A big piece of advice is to always try to score with the same person to unlock the “He’s on fire!” function which gives you a god-like ability to make shots from just about anywhere on the court. It can only be unlocked from scoring three consecutive baskets with the same person.
In conclusion, if you’re looking for the most intense, action packed basketball GAME of what some would consider all time, be sure to download NBA JAM for $9.99. There truly is no better sound than when the announcer yells “sexy time” and “He’s on fire!” NBA JAM is also available on the iPhone and iPod Touch for $4.99.