NBA Jam – Review [Update]

Bring back the lightning shoes, or even better the amazing dunks, because the Jam is back!

Update: EA have released an HD version of the game for iPad. See addendum below.

iPhone review original posted February 10th. NBA Jam is a bit of a classic. It was one of the first arcade-like NBA games, and it sure as hell gave me plenty of hours of entertainment. NBA Jam changed the game back then, and it is back to change it up once again.

The essence of NBA Jam hasn’t been lost at all. Everything is pretty much the same from what you recall. It’s two-vs-two, where the players have the ability to do amazing dunks and Alley-oops. The fantastic “on fire” ability is back as well, with unlimited boost, no goaltending and better shooting, after you have successfully dunked three shots in a row that is.

nbajam-4The controls translate very well. There is the usual virtual joystick on the left and then there are three action buttons on the right; one for boost, one for defense/shove/pass and the other for shooting/dunk/block. The way they have replicated the boosting combination with the other two buttons is what really impressed me. Basically all the player has to do is slide their finger either up or left while pressing the boost, to do whichever option they desire. This not only made it quick but also pretty intuitive. By default, the game automatically controls your other player, but if you wish, you can select Tag mode from the options to give you full control over both.

The graphics are also very nice. They are just NBA Jam-ish, if that makes any sense. Basically 98% of what you see is CGI except for the faces of the players, which are the players actual “real” faces. They also make some nice expressions when they dunk or do something amazing. The music and narration also adds to the NBA Jam feeling, where you will hear what we have all been a costumed to by now, the amazing “Boomshakalaka!” and some more.

nbajam-3Although the game is in all its glory, NBA Jam, I believe there are a few flaws. First of was the fact that sometimes it was really easy to just rush to the basket and dunk. The defense didn’t seem to do much to stop me, although I was playing in veteran. I must admit though, this wasn’t 100% of the times, but it did happen quite a lot.

Another big flaw in my opinion was the lack of multiplayer. The replay-ability on this game would be huge with multiplayer added that I have no idea why they didn’t include it. Be it local multiplayer or online multiplayer, it would have been amazing. Imagine playing 2vs2 where each human player controls a player in the game, or even a 1vs1 where each human player controls a team. Either one, or even both, would have made this an even more unbelievable game.

There are a bunch of un-lockables and a lot of classic dunks, narrations and everything NBA Jam. If you have been a fan of the series before, then this is a definite no brainer. If you love NBA, then you probably played the original NBA Jams and therefore the aforementioned statement applies to you as well. As far as the rest of the crew goes, I think that even if you don’t enjoy sports games very much, you will probably enjoy this one. If it wasn’t for the lack of multiplayer and the little details I mentioned, this would have definitely been a perfect game. For now though, it is without a doubt, a Boomshakalaka!


iPad addendum: Nigel Wood

NBA Jam is now available for iPad. It’s not a universal update however, and so you’ll need to purchase the HD version separately. If you don’t already own it for iPhone and you have an iPad, then I’d advise getting this version. Playing it on the big screen is even more enjoyable than before, and you’ll appreciate the animation and big heads even more. If you have a Fling controller handy then this work a treat, if not then you may want to switch to Gesture mode, as holding an iPad as a controller can be a but uncomfortable over long periods of time.

If you do own it for iPhone, then it all boils down to how much you love it as that may be enough to sway you. For the majority of you though, the added $5.99 may be a bitter pill to swallow. After all, you can always play the iPhone version on your iPad, albeit in lower resolution.


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  • Matt Dunn, USA

    Damn no multiplayer? That’s definitely a mistake, but I still may have to grab this.

  • Kosd

    Seriously, if this had online multiplayer, it would be perfect. EA must be saving it for a later update like with Hot Pursuit.

    First Dead Space, now NBA Jam and soon Fight Night Champion. Gameloft might have a problem cause EAMobile is stepping up.

  • Jose Ramos, Puerto Rico

    You should grab it Matt. Pretty awesome indeed.

    And yes Kosd, I totally agree with you. I actually said the same thing to Nigel (Editor in Chief) that if this game had online multiplayer it would definitely be a perfect game.

    EAMobile is indeed stepping it up. About time though don’t ya think? haha

  • http://TouchgGen Pat

    I’m definitely going to get it!

  • Mike

    Kosd, I dont believe they added online play in hot pursuit only a second career mode. EA hardly ever adds online play to portables or mobile devices.

  • Phillip Culley

    Ea is playing it smart. There is an jailbreak that allows the user to find/change things that are inside the app.Sort of like modding. You guys may know about Modern Combat 2, people use the jailbreak to change, the power of their guns, change the attachments etc. If they added online to all their games, there would be so much complaints and anger.

  • Jose Ramos, Puerto Rico

    Phillip, I think that is more of an excuse than anything else. They can easily detect anyone who is not playing the game right (they do so on gaming consoles) and ban them from the game.