Together Retro Game Club: NBA Jam
Presented by Fastbilly & Racketboy
New To Together Retro? Check out the introduction to the club
I have been trying to think of one word to describe this months Together Retro title and just haven’t had any luck. Bodacious and Badical just cant seem grasp the awesomeness of this title. I mean what other game did Shaquille O’Neill own two copies of the arcade cabinet for: one for home one for travel. No wait, I’ve got it: Boomshakalaka, that’ll work. As you can tell, this month we are playing that exquisite arcade basketball game NBA Jam. So lace up your sneakers, its time to go break a backboard as Bill Clinton.
NBA Jam was coded Mark Turmell (listen to our podcast interview with Mark), who, if you have been keeping up Together Retro you will recognize as the creator of Smash TV. Despite what many people believe NBA Jam did not create the over the top sports genre. Arch Rivals was released by Midway in 1989 and is considered the prime inspiration for the title. It was, however, the first arcade game to use NBA licensed teams and player likenesses. It’s over the top gameplay style and exaggerated physics are what sold it to the fans though. Also of note, it is one of the very few games on the Midway T-Unit hardware.
According to Turmell, the game was a more serious basketball game until he coded the first dunk. He didn’t mean to do something zany, but with the velocity and height entered, well it just looked cool. So he pushed it to be higher and look even cooler, changing the dynamic of the game from then on. NBA Jam also introduced an unheard of number of Easter eggs for a game at that time. Hidden characters ranging from mascots to political figures to the creators were all available with the right passcodes. I mean who doesn’t want to play the Clinton team: Bill Clinton and George Clinton.
2-on-2 basketball game on an indoor court with very few rules or penalties. The only penalties are goaltending and 24 seconds. Thanks to the exaggerated physics players can jump several times their height, do numerous flips into a goal, and who can forget the signature “he’s on fire” ability to have the ball, well, be on fire. Gameplay is quick and fast, but very easy to learn and is forgiving until you get to the higher levels of competition.
NBA Jam has spawned countless imitators and a long running series with ports or sequels on most 16 and 32 bit consoles. However, over time it ran its own name into the ground with mediocrity. Midway did the right thing though, it went under and EA bought the license. And if you do not keep up with modern gaming news let me tell you to buy a Wii since NBA Jam comes back to home consoles in October. Rumors say there are PS3 and 360 ports coming aswell, but Wii is 100% confirmed. And yes, Tim Kitzrow is back to be the voice of the announcer.
- Gameboy – 1993
- GameGear – 1993
- Genesis – 1994
- SNES – 1994
- Sega CD – 1994
- Joystick: Move
- Three buttons: Shoot, Pass, Turbo
Turbo / “On Fire” Capabilities
- The turbo button will make your player move twice as fast and perform special moves such as dunks or extra-high jumps.
- You need to recharge it if you hold the button for too long
- Score three baskets in a row and you’ll become “on-fire” for as long as the opposition is held scoreless.
- The player who is on-fire will have increased abilities and unlimited turbo, no goaltending, and increased shooting ability.
Together Retro Discussion
Instead of posting in the comments section of the blog, we will be using the forum for all of our discussion in order to keep things more organized. So play NBA Jam and talk to us about your thoughts and play experiences in the forums. We want to know your favorite route, your highscores, and your failures.
Discuss The Game In The Forum