NBA Jam Review
iPhone App
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NBA Jam Review

Our Review by Blake Grundman on February 15th, 2011
Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: A SLAM DUNK
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This is a pitch perfect return to form for the game that originally defined the arcade sports genre.

Developer: Electronic Arts
Price: $4.99
Version: 1.0.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 4

Graphics / Sound Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Game Controls Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
Replay Value Rating: starstarstarstarstar

Overall Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar

Boomshakalaka: a phrase that entered the American consciousness back in 1993 thanks to a little game by the name of NBA Jam. Though the word actually doesn't mean anything in particular, the entirety of ESPN's SportCenter broadcasting line-up owes a great debt of gratitude to Jon Hey's original script, consisting of incessantly catchy one liners that were uttered by the undisputed voice of arcade sports games, Tim Kitzrow. However, NBA Jam was not defined by simply having an iconic sound, it was the game the redefined the arcade sports genre for an entire generation of gamers. So can EA pick up where Midway left off, or do we have another NBA Elite on our hands?

The NBA Jam franchise has laid dormant for seven years, leaving many to wonder if it was even still relevant. One thing that this revival to the franchise has proven is that not only will it strike a chord with a whole new generation of arcade sport junkies, but it may very well be better than ever. There is just something about seeing your favorite superstars flying through the rafters (in some cases quite literally) that drives home the feeling that players are taking part in something special.

Much like the games of old, this iteration consists of a standard arcade mode, accompanied by a standard campaign. While you work your way through each tier of the campaign you begin to unlock many of the hidden and vintage characters that the series has become so synonymous for. You can also continue to unlock players through numerous accomplishments that happen throughout the course of every game. The end of every game is like Christmas day, where you are excited to see what present you just opened, whether inadvertently or otherwise.

Coming in, there were initial concerns about whether the iOS touchscreen controls would be responsive enough to handle the speed and intensity that has been predominantly featured in prior iterations. These worries were quelled by the title's pitch perfect implementation of arcade gaming controls. The left joypad is a duplicate of what was found in NBA Elite for iOS, while the context buttons follow an approach that hasn't been seen before on the platform. A turbo button sits in the bottom right hand corner of the screen, allowing the player to either slide their finger to the shoot/block or pass/steal button or lift and press to execute the move without turbo. This makes for a seamless transition between screaming around the court at breakneck speed, while pirouetting into position to slam a facial on the competition.

Even more remarkable is how EA has managed to perfectly recreate the NBA Jam experience on a device that was never designed to handle that volume of visual insanity. Every dunk, jumpshot and alley-oop runs smoothly and flawlessly, once again raising the bar for gaming on the platform. There is really no amount of praise that can do this game enough justice. It is simply outstanding.

If you couldn't tell already, NBA Jam is one of those special experiences that all iOS gamers should take the opportunity to embrace. This is the epitome of arcade gaming distilled into its purest form. It truly has to be seen to be believed.


iPhone Screenshots

(click to enlarge)

NBA JAM by EA SPORTS™ screenshot 1 NBA JAM by EA SPORTS™ screenshot 2 NBA JAM by EA SPORTS™ screenshot 3 NBA JAM by EA SPORTS™ screenshot 4 NBA JAM by EA SPORTS™ screenshot 5
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