Oftentimes, when developers resurrect classic games for the modern era, they overhaul the core experience with enough bells and whistles to make it stand up to current releases. This is not the case in NBA Jam. The gameplay of this two-on-two fast-paced dunk-a-thon that you remember playing in the arcades 17 years ago has made its transition to the Wii virtually unchanged. A boisterous announcer belts out catchphrases as you unleash thunderous dunks, and without any refs to get in the way, you can swing your elbows and shove your feisty opponents with impunity. The kinetic ebb and flow is beautiful in its simplicity, creating an enticing pick-up-and-play experience that's at its best when four friends settle their differences on the hardwood floor. The passage of time has been kind to NBA Jam, but it's not all swishes and rim-rattling slams. New modes don't offer a good incentive to stray from the standard action, and the lack of online play feels downright archaic in 2010. NBA Jam provides as much free-flowing fun as ever, but a few modern indulgences could have gone a long way toward making it a classic in this era as well.
6281301Huh, looks like the Cavs are still in the NBA after all.None
The concept is unchanged from the original release in the early '90s: two-on-two basketball with exaggerated physics and few rules. You do have to be mindful of the shot clock, and goaltending is a serious faux pas, but most of the violations from the real NBA have been swept neatly under the rug. Each of the 30 teams from the association is represented here, and you have an initial assortment of three players from each to choose from, though more can be unlocked as you play through the game. It doesn't matter if you select the stacked Heat or undermanned Pacers as your team of choice, though, because high-flying antics take priority over fundamental basketball. Dunks from beyond the free-throw line, fadeaway 30 footers, and backboard-shattering alley-oops are all the rage, and stringing a bevy of jaw-dropping offensive moves together is just as likely to elicit an excited yell from spectators as the enthusiastic announcer. Responsive controls--whether you're using the Classic Controller or Wii Remote--ensure every leap, pass, and shove is dished out at the precise moment you need, laying the foundation for a spirited experience that never wants for excitement.
The most eye-catching aspect of NBA Jam is the gravity-defying dunks you can pull off at a moment's notice, but if you want any chance of actually winning against a high-level CPU opponent or talented friend, you need to embrace the simple pleasure of hard-fought defense. It may sound strange to preach the wonders of stopping your foe from scoring rather than creating your own highlights, but a strong defensive presence is paramount to winning and especially satisfying. Shoving is the most brutal of your defensive tactics. You can push your opponent to the court whenever you have a hankering for dishing out floor burns, and it's handy when you need to stop a dunk and unmitigated violence is your only choice. But the defensive abilities in NBA Jam go beyond feral lunges. A well-timed swipe can key a fast break in a hurry, and jumping at the perfect moment lets you send a feeble shot attempt right back at your opponent's face. Clamping down to play formidable defense is just as exciting as well-executed offense; thus, no matter which end of the court you're on, NBA Jam is a blast.