Written by Mike Deneen Thursday, 13 October 2011 12:00
Back in my glory days of the 90s while I was in my teenage angsty youth, I spent a lot of time playing arcade games. In these ancient times when dinosaurs roamed the land, VHS players were a thing, and Pepsi was clear, we went to public establishments to get our fix on some of the greatest video games that existed. Nowadays, youngsters only see these relics of yesteryear either at Dave & Busters, or on emulators. It makes my old eyes shed a tear…
Although console ports of many arcade classics continue to pop up here and there, one game that I’ve been looking forward to the most is a new port for NBA Jam. The last couple renditions of the game between the now defunct Midway, and EA Sports first stab at it, were a little lackluster at best. Never mind the $50.00 price point for a game that was allegedly supposed to come with their NBA Elite game (which also, seems as unlikely as the NBA Season).
As miserable of an attempt that EA put forth the first time around, they’ve certainly made up for it with their new PSN and XBLA downloadable title: NBA Jam: On Fire Edition. This new updated version will $15.00 (1200 MS points) and comes loaded with more content then you could shake a stick at. All the classic elements are there including unlockables, over-the-top jams, arcade-like style of play and even the Beastie Boys! However, due to the lockout, don’t expect to see your favorite rookies in this game.
While the game play is pretty much the same classic goodness as it was before, this new version has many new features and modes for you to explore. The basic game mode has you challenging all of the 30 NBA teams based on regions, rather than the Eastern/Western standard NBA division. Each team has a bronze, silver and gold challenge ranging from a 2 v 2 regular game to one where the other team is automatically on fire the entire game. There is also online play to allow you to slam, jam, and dunk to your heart’s content against your buddies, which was lacking from the 2010 version of the game.
The unlockables have been expanded greatly to include historic players (Larry Bird, Dominic Williams, Magic Johnson, Dr. J, Chris Mullin, Shaq, and many, many more), a couple European teams (Olympikos, Real Madrid, and others), EA teams featuring Isaac from Dead Space and characters in SSX, as well as different modes such as big head mode and using the ABA ball within the game. There are also features to allow you to change your online profile for the game to include different backgrounds, tags, etc. The unlockables are obtained by scoring J tokens, which one can get by performing in game challenges and certain activities (scoring a certain number of points, extinguishing an opponent’s on fire streak, just to name a few).
Many of the other favorites from games of old exist as well, ranging from announcer Tim Kitzrow shouting the “BOOMSHAKALAKA!” to the very simple button mapping. For $15.00 any of us who gleefully remembers wasting quarter after quarter of allowance money, or even jamming on this on our Sega or SNES, this is a sure bet. Packed full of content, Easter eggs, and overall fun, this should be your therapy to overcome your lack-of-real-basketball blues. NBA Jam is available now on PSN and XBLA.