NBA Jam HD
From: EA Sports
Genre: Action, Sports
ESRB Rating: N/A
NBA Jam HD
A generation ago, you took the pulse of the videogame industry in the arcade, where gamers planted themselves in front of quarter-devouring machines and devoted countless hours (and dollars) trying to out-button friends or (joy)stick it to the next boss.
For fans of basketball games, one the greatest arcade basketball games of day (if not all time) was NBA Jam. The original arcade game was a full court, two-on-two, high-flying, dunk extravaganza with your favorite NBA stars. It hyperbolized one of the greatest eras in the history of basketball, letting you perform 30 dunks per game with players who jumped 30 feet in the air, hit rims on fire with balls on fire (heck, with players literally "on fire" while you're at it) and shatter backboards just for looking at them sideways (or so it seemed).
Today, it's mostly home based game playing, or course, with quite a bit of recent movement into the transportable realm thanks to Apple's ridiculously popular iPad.
So it follows that EA Sports recently rolled out NBA Jam HD for iPad, marrying old school with new tool and bringing the classic arcade game to the iOS tablet.
Updating the rosters but leaving the popular gameplay mostly untouched, NBA Jam HD is essentially the same game as the original - or same idea, anyway - but with a visual update to high def. Player's heads retain the look of enlarged mugshots - the classic bobblehead-like cheesiness of the old NBA Jam is preserved.
Most gamers are rightly skeptical of iOS-based sports games. After all, what normally takes ten or more button combinations to juke, spin, dribble and shoot your way up the scoreboard seems a tad unlikely on a device with no buttons at all. Yet NBA Jam HD for iPad, like many such reworked titles, has managed to capture the arcade game's button/stick experience, which was never about finger dexterity so much as madcap mash and dash, keeping it simple, looking fantastic. So here, your left thumb goes to work on a little virtual d-pad control in the bottom left corner of the screen to move your player around the screen. In the bottom-right corner reside buttons for turbo, shoot and pass when on offense, which switch to block, steal and shove on defense.
This HD version of the game (there's a cheaper, SD version available for iPhone and iPad) also sports a gesture based control scheme that has you swiping moves and directions anywhere on the sides of the screen. It doesn't always work like you'd hope, but sticking with the faux buttons never fails.
While play mode variety is limited to just Play Now, Classic Campaign or Local Multiplayer, each delivers a goodly amount of itinerant sports gaming.
Play now is just you versus the computer in a single game of razzle and dazzle and includes farcical teams such as the Republicans, the Democrat and the Beastie Boys.
Classic campaign mode pits you as your favorite team against three dozen other teams in a tournament, all of which must be defeated for you to become the champion. Tournament teams include not only today’s greats, but also star players from years gone by, including Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and even Julius Erving.
NBA Jam HD's local multiplayer mode allows you to connect up to four iPads via bluetooth or wi-fi and have your very own battle royal.
As always, NBA Jam succeeds in its appeal to the masses, not just the sports buffs. Whether you're trying to score 100 points in one game with one player in hopes of unlocking Dan Majerle or just going for broke for the frivolous fun of unlocking the oodles of different basketballs, NBA Jam is still has all its arcade wonder and o'er the top charm and little in the way of persnickety basketball "simulation" trappings. It's all about exaggerated gameplay and a cartoonish competition of yesteryear - and that just never gets old.