Platform: Playstation 3
Developer: EA Canada
Publisher: EA Games
Arcade sports titles and basketball video games owe a great deal of their heritage to the NBA Jam franchise, a once great series that I can remember playing extensively on the Super Nintendo and Sega MegaDrive. The game’s accessible arcade gameplay and snappy Nineties one-liners (‘BOOM-SHAKA-LAKA’) gave it a charm that meant long after the franchise became dormant, people were still fondly pining for a new installment.
Sometimes, you have to be careful what you wish for. EA Sports revived the NBA Jam franchise three years ago with a full retail release. Then last year they followed it up with a digital download version called On Fire Edition for $20. During a Christmas sale, I picked it up for $10. Using a free PSN voucher I got with Uncharted 3. I still feel slightly ripped off. I can’t imagine what it’d be like to pay a full $100 for this game when it was first re-released.
The presentation of the game is nice enough and the boom-shaka-lakking is still there. It’s just that in 2012, the gameplay feels shallower than a 99 cent iPhone game. You just take turns dribbling the ball to the other end of the court before pressing two buttons to do an over-the-top slam dunk. The gameplay is tissue-thin in depth. Winning a game against a friend feels almost completely up to chance. Back then, it was enough. Nowadays, its aged pretty badly. Pass.
Summary : A franchise that didn't need to come back. Don't bother.