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 NBA JAM for Xbox 360

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NightStarX
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PostSubject: NBA JAM for Xbox 360   Sat Jan 01, 2011 10:54 am

I don't care for Sports Games.

On the whole, I've never bought them, and aside from possibly Smackdown vs Raw series, i've generally ignored all manner of sports games from Dusty Diamond's Alll-Star Baseball on the NES to the Madden series, to NBA 2K, to Golf games, to Fifa.

The games are all fine and well for those that love them. I've just never been a sports game guy. Probably because i've never quite been into the sports that they are attached to as well.

Sure, i've gone to one or two local baseball games in my time for family outings as a kid. But i've never been a sports fan, and not particularly interested in these realistic, simulation games like the Madden franchise.

But even to me, there is one sports game that dominated a good chunk of my entire life growing up:

NBA JAM from Midway.


Now to be fair, my story is a rather common one among those that usually ignore sports games and sports themselves but who came to love this game as a pure game for it's own sake. But i''m sure even lovers of sports games can find a LOT to LOVE about this game as well.

Even though NBA Jam is not and never has been even remotely a simulation aspect in any way, shape or form. And that's why it's always been so absolutely brilliant and unbelievably fun.

There's only two people per team on the court, they run like they have rocket boosters on their feet, the visual style is borderline cartoony, there is no such thing as a physical foul, the physics make Wile E. Coyote look realistic, dunks go half a mile into the air, and of course, when you're on a "hot streak" of baskets the ball LITERALLY catches on fire....

And it's probably one of the most enjoyable and addicting arcade style games that was ever made. Midway really hit on something here, making a game for the non-sports fanatics and the sports fanatics to thoroughly enjoy.

The game distills down to it's bare essense of fun. I can personally recount the times when I was younger and would actually stay the night at a friends house JUST so we could stay up from 6 PM to 5 in the morning just playing nothing but NBA Jam on SNES the entire time.

And now here we are.. with so many classic franchises being revived, so has the classic arcade brilliance of NBA Jam.

First thing that had me worried initially about this game was that Midway, obviously is not involved. Y'know, being Bankrupt and currently not existing anymore.

And worse it was EA Sports that held the license and developed the remake. How could they possibly understand the NBA Jam forumla, when their very bread and butter is the ultra-realistic antithesis of the NBA Jam series?

I was surprised just how much.

It's just like I remember it... except it's just so much better now and more fun than ever before!

First off, the new graphics are astounding. The game being in HD, when you recall the look and feel of the original NBA Jam's cartoony appeal, is perfectly replicated here, with exactly the right graphical updates that JAM should have. In my dreams, this is what NBA Jam on a current gen system always looked like.

Likewise the gameplay mechanics are boiled down to EXACTLY what has always made NBA JAM fun, fast paced, and amazing.

It's more apparent than ever before now, how if you manage to strip down the sport of Basketball to the very core of "Avoid the other team, get to the other side and slam it in, then watch the sides change and try and steal the ball from them before they score and kick their ass with monstrous super slam dunks" that it quickly turns into a strategic cat and mouse game.

It's almost like a pure and elegant kick-ass, knockdown drag out fight. It's basketball, with all of the strategic reflex, and skill required of a well constructed fighting game, yet just as perfect and simple. It's simple, yet extraordinarily fun.

Especially with the way that the game gives you two different control methods at the same time.

Moving everything to the anolog sticks works amazingly well to improve NBA JAM exponentially. Simply use one stick to move around the court. Up on the other stick to shoot, left and right to knock the other players down or steal, and up to launch in the air and down to slam it in. Absolutely satisfying.

Or, if you're a strict purist who wants the game exactly as you remember it, you can still use the D-Pad and the buttons just like the SNES days. And you don't have to switch between these in the options, either. Due to the perfect simplicity of both control modes, you can effortlessly just use whatever buttons you want.

There are 30 classic NBA teams, and of course, it wouldn't be NBA Jam without crazy, hilarious, unlockable teams. The Beastie Boys are back as well as classic celebrities, and political figures... now sporting actual teams to go with them. Politcs have never been as fun as simply just challenging the Republicans versus the Democrats in a good old NBA ball brawl.

Likewise unlockable cheats that Jammers know and love. Big head mode, and other fun ways to alter the game.

But this game also features a plethora of new modes, making the game feel more robust and adding the all important replay value favor in. Boss battles against NBA legends with ridiculously hilarious unfair advantages, games that award you points for breaking the backboard, a game of 21, elimination style duels and other game modes that really offer something new and interesting aside from the standard game that are every bit as crazy and fast paced as everything else.

And then there's "Remix Mode" which is the standard NBA Jam game, but with powerups, and all kinds of things that make the game even more of a fun arcade experience than before. Not to mention that unlike the Wii port of this game, both Remix and Classic modes Xbox Live supports online multiplayer if you're into that sort of thing.

For those that want a longer experience than just a series of exhibition contests in tons of different modes, there's also season tours, where you pick one team, and go about through a basketball season, touring around and beating all the other teams along the way, while unlocking special battles, boss encounters and special teams along the way. And there are seperate career tour modes for both Classic style and Remix style.

As far as it goes with the sound of the game, it's wonderful to hear the old announcer from the classic NBA Jam pick up the mic and deliver hilarious commentary that really makes you feel empowered when you're doing well, and makes you feel like a dumbshit when you're not doing so hot, all with his snappy classic one-liners and a whole slew of exceptionally clever new ones.

If there's any low point to the game's sound, it's unfortunately the music. There's really no replicating the bassy Midway-esque B-Ball tunes from the original NBA Jam, and here the music feels repetitive, shallow and rather generic. The music both in the background and menus is entirely forgettable and just feels weak, when in my head I keep expecting the catchy original tunes from Midway's Jam, seeing how perfectly replicated and enjoyable the rest of the game is.

But that's honestly the only real critisism I can find with this game. Weak music. If you're not a sports fan, I recommend it. If you are a sports fan, I recommend it. If you love arcade style games, I recommend it. Hell, if you like games that are just a BLAAAAAAST to play, I can't recommend it enough.

And for those that loved the original NBA Jam dearly, and questioning whether or not EA could have possibly got NBA Jam right... oh boy did they ever get it right!!! I just might not be able to put this game away for a long while. And yes, may even be a permanent replacement for my SNES version. And believe it or not, coming from me, that is some high praise indeed.

RATING: 9.5/10 (.5 points docked for the weaksause music, but you'll be having SO much fun you'll barely even notice it.)
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PostSubject: Re: NBA JAM for Xbox 360   Sun Jan 02, 2011 2:11 am

I saw this in HMV the other day and wondered how it would be on a new Gen console. I used to love the original version, so I'm really pleased that this seems to live up to it. Still got Assassins Creed Brotherhood and Call of Duty Black Ops to complete, but I might pick this up later when it gets cheap.

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PostSubject: Re: NBA JAM for Xbox 360   Sun Jan 02, 2011 4:28 am

I remember NBA Jam. I had it on the Megadrive, and thought it was awesome back in the day. I didn't know they'd made a new one until I saw this thread yesterday. Straight away, I googled it and found some videos and pictures. I must say, the game looks awesome. The gameplay seems just as fun as I remember it being on the Megadrive.

I found a review by IGN, which says they think the game should have been released on Xbox Live and shouldn't be a full priced game. I don't agree with that. This new NBA Jam game is a great looking game. Much better than many full priced boxed games I've seen in recent years. It's fun, has great multiplayer potential, and has it's own mini games. I may have to buy it, and tell my friends to buy it as well so we can play it on Xbox Live.
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PostSubject: Re: NBA JAM for Xbox 360   Sun Jan 02, 2011 4:37 am

Yeah, that IGN review is full of shit. But whatareyagonnado. It's IGN. Bullshit is their bread and butter.

Obviously the robost modes, and the high level of quality make it an entirely worthwhile game on it's own.

I love how everyone always wrongfully assumes that a remake of a classic game immediately has to be downloadable, when it really comes down to how much content a download offers versus a retail copy.

And after playing it, this obviously, to me, needed to be a retail copy. There's a surprising amount to it.

Now if it had just been a lazy port of the Arcade rom, then yes. That would have needed to go on Live Marketplace. But it isn't that. It sooo isn't that.
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