Year Of Release: 1993
One of the biggest arcade hits of the 1990’s all over the world was the over the top 2 on 2 basketball arcade game, NBA JAM. The idea of NBA JAM was slightly based on Midway’s other popular basketball game Arch Rivals. Arch Rivals tried to keep the fun of basketball by keeping the excitement of the sport, but by stripping away the rules. NBA JAM would follow on from this trend and also make use of digitized character much like Midway’s other huge hit Mortal Kombat. Midway had to pay a hefty sum of $100 per arcade machine sold to the NBA to secure the licensing rights. Midway also promised the NBA that many features would be added to the game which were not. Of course when the game was a huge hit no one really cared.
NBA JAM was one of the first licensed sports games to take full advantage of the license that it had. The game made use of actual NBA rosters from the 1992-1993 season and would have digitised likeness of the actual players. The thing that makes NBA JAM so poplar was the game play. Midway took everything that was fun about basketball and made it even better! As well as this they took away many of the “boring” rules such as travelling, fouls and other such stuff that slows down the game. In NBA JAM players could jump high above the rim and do incredible dunks. They could set the net on fire by hitting three shots in a row and they could even shove over players without having a foul called! NBA JAM was a game that was so much fun that even a person who had no prior knowledge of the game of basketball could have a great time with.
NBA JAM was an absolute smash hit and many of the phrases that the game would shout made their way into the pop culture of the 90’s, phrases such as He’s On Fire and Boomshakalaka were two of the favourites. One interesting thing about NBA JAM is that the developers of the game nearly 20 years later admitted that the game was biased against the Chicago Bulls. Mark Turmel was the main man behind the game and was a diehard Detroit Pistons fan. So he made it so that the Chicago Bulls would always miss last second shots when they were playing against the Pistons.
Current High Score: NA
NBA JAM would be ported to many of the home systems of the era such as the Super Nintendo and the Sega Mega Drive. The versions that would be released at home would feature slightly different rosters than what was featured on the arcades.
Midway would follow up NBA JAM with NBA JAM Tournament Edition which added more than a few new features to the game such as each team now having three players. While the game was still 2 on 2 you now could make a substitution at half time. As well as this there were many hidden Easter eggs in the game. Most famously were hidden Mortal Kombat characters. The NBA though did not like the violent Mortal Kombat game being associated with the NBA so later versions of the arcade machine had these taken out.
It was Acclaim who would port the NBA JAM games to the home consoles and through a somewhat weird series of events they wound up having the exclusive rights to make NBA JAM games. But this did not stop Midway!
Acclaim would try to take NBA JAM into the world of 3D gaming with NBA JAM Extreme which was released to very poor reviews. Midway on the other hand kept modifying their NBA JAM game engine and statred the NBA Hangtime series.
Acclaim would try and make NBA JAM a full-fledged basketball sim with the game NBA JAM 99. This game was very poorly received with many people wondering why it had the NBA JAM name.
In 2010, EA Sports who now own the license to NBA JAM after Acclaim went out of business released a new version of NBA JAM for the Nintendo Wii. This version featured the same crazy over the top 2 on 2 action that NBA JAM was loved for and turned out to be a pretty big hit. It was such a big hit that EA Sports released an improved version called NBA JAM On Fire Edition for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 about a year later.