“He’s heating up!” – anyone who spent time playing the classic basketball game known as NBA JAM should remember this line. Back in the day, this game literally defined how much fun a sports game could be when you took out any semblance of realism and threw in a massive dose of arcade fun.
Massive dunks where the player jumped off the screen, basketballs catching on fire, shots that cannot be missed, and the fun of giving your opponent free points when you goaltend their shot are all the staples of this classic game. All of this incredible fun is actually available in the iOS versions for iPhone ($0.99) and iPad ($6.99), which means you can enjoy all of the ridiculousness anywhere you go.
The gameplay should feel very familiar to anyone who’s spent any time with the classic NBA JAM games. It comes with a quick play mode, a campaign, challenges, and local multiplayer. These modes offer plenty of gameplay to keep you coming back for hours on end, even if you just want to jump in and play a quick game.
Each of the different modes ultimately lands you in a fun, two on two arcade basketball game. Once playing basketball, the controls feel comfortable, with a virtual joystick moving your player, and various buttons for passing, stealing, blocking, and shooting appearing on the other side of the screen. These buttons change depending on the situation, which means they offer plenty of functions without taking up too much screen real estate.
The rosters are not exactly current, but they are newer than the classic games (obviously). You will see plenty of recognizable stars from today’s NBA like Kobe Bryant, Lebron James and all the others you expect.
This game is incredibly fun. Even if you’ve never experienced the classic version of the game on home consoles, there is still a ton of fun to be had in this version of NBA JAM.
Visuals & Sound
The game looks very good, but it is very demanding on your device. While playing on my iPhone 4S I noticed some framerate drops that were pretty annoying. It did not break the game completely, but I would imagine that for anyone running an even older device, the performance issue would be even more noticeable.
I found this surprising considering the game is a couple of years old, but alas, it’s something to keep in mind before you purchase the game. I would recommend trying the free demo version before buying the full game just to make sure everything runs smoothly.
The sound is one of the best parts of NBA JAM, and that classic audio remains in tact for the iOS version. Tim Kitzrow, the play-by-play commentator from the original games, is back, and he even recorded some new lines and catch phrases for this version of the game. Fear not purists, as all the “BOOMSHAKALAKA” from the originals remains, and it’s just as entertaining as ever.
NBA JAM is available in three different flavors, a free lite version, the full iPhone version for $0.99 and a $4.99 iPad “HD” version. The paid versions add the ability to play local multiplayer with a friend. The free version is limited to a one quarter exhibition between only the Lakers and Celtics.
It’s definitely meant to just be a demo, so if you actually want to play the full game the way you remember it from back in the day, you are going to want to spend the money to get the full version.
There is plenty to do in NBA JAM, as long as you are a fan of the classic style. It features three different game modes, all of the NBA teams, plenty of hidden characters to unlock, and cheats to make the game even crazier than it already is. It’s one of those games you can continue to come back to, even if it’s just to play one game and get on with your day. For $0.99, you really can’t go wrong from a pure value perspective.
If you are feeling nostalgic, NBA JAM is a fantastic game you can play on the go. If you want more classic gaming, make sure to check our list of classic games available on iOS, as they will keep you busy for hours on end.
What do you think of NBA JAM on iOS? If you haven’t played it yet, are you going to pick it up? Hit the comments section below and let us know!