NBA Jam. In this sexy humble mans opinion…the greatest game of all time. I can trace my love for this game back to when I was playing Sonic The Hedgehog, Bomberman, Road Rage, Comix Zone, Altered Beast and Streets of Rage and of course… Mortal Kombat on my Sega Megadrive in my house growing up. My love for this game traces back to when I was playing all the Super Mario games in my neighbours house on his SNES. My love for this game even traces back to when I was throwing papers through poorly animated houses as I jumped over conveniently placed ramps on my life long friend Connors’ Commadore 64, I was an awful PaperBoy but my word could I pull off the “Razzle Dazzle” in NBA Jam. NBA Jam, in my opinion, is the greatest video game ever made. (Dear other bloggers…that, you peasant, is an introduction)
That is until NBA Jam Tournament Edition came along. The first time I played that game I found my first love. Most guys would fall in love with a girl (ewwww) but when I popped that cartridge into my Sega Megadrive I was hooked. I loved NBA Jam like I loved my mothers cooking…until NBA Jam Tournament edition came along and ruined my life. It is, up until this week, the greatest game I have ever played.
NBA Jam Tournament Edition was an achievement in video games, and still is. It’s impact cannot be measured by today’s standards due to the fact that we gamers at the time played it in arcades and had no idea if it would ever make it to our state of the art Megadrives and Super Nintendos. Now, we are spoiled with DLC and software updates on our Xbox 360s and that other thing that seems incapable of the simplest of tasks (I believe you call it a Playstation 3?) and we cannot fathom the kind of impact that ‘update’ had…until today.
Years of 3D bullcrap Jams were released on PS2 and other consoles and I gave up hope for my favourite game. I placed my heart with Pro Evolution Soccer, it paid off. Pro Evo filled the huge gap in my games life with its fantastic gameplay and comedic edit mode. It came close, very close to overtaking The Jam in my affections until it Kurt Cobained coming into the current generation of consoles. I stuck with it for years until I played FIFA 11 and I jumped ship. Pro Evo had executed itself in the same way NBA Jam did.
When I heard NBA Jam, the old school 2D Arcade Jam, was being released on the Wii I was concerned. The Wii, after all, is a device designed to part the ignorant from their cash and I feared the worst. It could not be Jam, but it was close. Rumours surfaced online that a stacked version would be released on XBOX Live and PSN and I really looked forward to it…it was cancelled…for a week, the worst week of my life. I had been convinced that my old school NBA Jam was never to be released on my Xbox until I was at an EA conference at work. There it was – NBA Jam for the XBOX 360. I had to stay quiet as it was merely a footnote on the EA address but inside I was dancing. Soon I would have my Jam.
And I had it. I was lost within it’s wonder. It had everything I remembered and loads of updates like boss battles in the tour mode and a really awesome Remix Mode. Something Jam-Vets disliked for a reason I will never understand. Tim Kitrow commentary was back and the whole thing felt authentic. Aside from some shocking AI issues and the lacking online mode I loved it and I could not see how EA, taking the mantle from Akklaim, could ever improve upon it. I had the same feeling when I first picked up NBA Jam…and Tounament Edition came along. Enter “NBA Jam On Fire Edition”.
I was playing the regular NBA Jam Xbox 360 game this week (I’m sure you have seen the videos) and I fell back in love with it until I pressed the “DLC” option on the disc. Apparently there has been a new edition as an XBLA title FOR MONTHS!! How did I miss this?! I was immediately intrigued and used the google machine on this “On Fire Edition”. I downloaded it within seconds.
The legendary NBA Jam to NBA Jam Tournament Edition upgrade pales in comparison to the New NBA Jam to NBA Jam On Fire Edition.
I cannot describe to you how massive this update is. Looking back, the Jam relaunch was a bit crap and limited and reaching for the WiiSheeple compared to the On Fire Edition. This is the true version for us Jam-Vets. It is the new “Tournament Edition” for the DLC generation. The best part is…it’s not DLC! It’s an XBOX Live Arcade game, it is €12. Unbelievable. €12. €12. To put that in context. Call of Duty MW3 was fucking terrible and it is the biggest, not only games, entertainment release of all time. It cost €50…you can buy NBA Jam On Fire Edition FOUR TIMES for that price.
NBA Jam On Fire Edition is the Jam purists Jam. It has everything we wanted that the latest disc release lacked. The power of fan opinion has been shown twice in this generation… Mortal Kombat 9 and NBA Jam On Fire Edition…both amazing, easy to learn but fantastically difficult to master, just like being a kid again playing them on the Megadrive/SNES.
The new Jam has it all, Tim Kitrow is in flying form as always and the gameplay is just amazing. It is totally fresh yet familiar. It’s so smooth and lends itself well to the digital download mentality and pricetag. It’s all back. Tag mode (controversial) is actually vital during the campaign (shut up, try it without it and see how far you get) and Team fire is just awesome to see in HD. The new challenges are great and they get progressively more difficult, something that cannot be said of the last version.
The biggest change is the difficulty setting option. Easy, Medium, Hard are fairly standard but the new Jam has a little thing called “Real AI”. Yes, the tech used in the EA Fight Night Series. Impossibly impossible to put into words how massive the affect that change has had on the game. The game learns your tactics and motions and adapts justly, absolutely fantastic to challenge the true veterans, you will struggle. Go to options, change difficulty to “Real AI” and enjoy. You are not NBA Jam without it.
The “Real AI” is amazing. It makes you out think yourself. While in normal campaign type modes it is challenging it becomes shockingly difficult later. You have Bronze, Silver, Gold and oh dear lord Platinum matches against each team. Bronze and Silver are fairly easy whereas Gold poses a big challenge while changing the rules. The gold match is usually a remix, arcade type game where dunks count for 10pts etc but they are usually fairly achievable. The Platinum matches are a test, a big test. The Platinum matches are against bots…of your style, Real AI. The best part is that, in typical NBA Jam style, they are actually robots…with love heart boxers…brilliant. You essentially play against your best performances and it is tough if you are as good as me! Beating myself is very hard, really really hard. Just exceptionally hard. Single life.
An old school game calls for an old school unlockable system. It has all the legend teams the last version had and more. If you grew up watching the NBA you will be in heaven. The gameplay is amazing and the old school players really take me back to my youth. Progress through the game and unlock stuff… the game goes back to its roots. When you play as Hakeem Olajuwan and go up against Magic Johnson you are going to have a good time. Count in the fact that Scotty Pippen and Dennis Rodman play for the bulls and John Starks and Patrick Ewing play for the Knicks you will love this game. Did I mention Vince Carter? Bugsy? Larry Bird? Steve Kerr? There are literally way too many more to mention. Think of the NBA in the 90s and you have all the top players…still no Jordan though. (long story) 90s heaven in HD.
€12…you will never buy a better game. Trust me.
Is it the shoes?