Video Game of the Day is a daily show available on Amazon Alexa devices and here on this website. Each day, we briefly discuss the history of a single game, randomly chosen. If you would like to listen on your daily flash briefing, you can enable Video Game of the Day here: https://amzn.to/2CNx2NJ.
Hello and welcome! My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s Video Game of the Day.
Sports games can be a lot of fun for folks, especially during the off-season. It can be great to feel in control of superstars in your favorite sports, pulling off near impossible moves to win the game. For some, however, the strategy and depth of the sport can be daunting and maybe they just want to pick up and play something without much thought or planning. Today’s game is an example of an arcade sports title that has made converts of both basketball fans and outsiders. Today’s game is NBA Jam, developed by Midway and released in arcades in 1993.
NBA Jam is an officially licensed NBA title, letting players play as superstars of the era such as Dennis Rodman or John Stockton. While most NBA players from the 1992-93 season were in the game, due to licensing issues, two of the biggest stars of the time, Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal were not in the game, since they owned the rights to their likenesses, not the NBA.
Instead of realistic basketball, NBA Jam takes an arcade-y approach, showing players pulling off moves not possible in real-life. NBA Jam also features 2-on-2 basketball, with up to four people able to play. If a team only has one human player, they can switch between the two in-game players while the AI controls the other. The game is shown from the side, with players able to move up and down to give the illusion of a 3D court.
Fouls are kept to a minimum other than goaltending and 24 second violations. Otherwise, players are free to body check other players out of their way all they want. There’s also a special power-up given to players who score three baskets in a row. Once this happens, the announcer states that the player is on fire and when they have control of the ball, it appears to be literally on fire. This makes them more accurate with their future shots and lets them use unlimited turbo boosting, a normally limited ability that lets the player move faster.
NBA Jam was well received when it came out and received particular acclaim for being one of the first games to use the NBA license and real life players. While the game wasn’t for those looking for true to life basketball realism, it was very popular with mainstream audiences. The arcade version was quickly ported to the Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo, and Game Gear containing the 1993-94 season roster instead of the original. It also was later brought to the Game Boy and Sega CD platforms as well. While the portable consoles were not very well received, the home console versions were and the game quickly took off in sales. Revisions of the game were published meaning that two people who had NBA Jam for the same console may have slightly different rosters. NBA Jam received a number of sequels and updates and also spawned a whole new subgenre for sports games. Arcade sports titles would become popular, generating whole new franchises like NFL Blitz or NBA Street for years to come.
NBA Jam was a childhood favorite of mine so thank you so much for joining me on this nostalgia trip. If you like the show and want to hear about more games, please leave a review for me on Amazon. This helps listeners know to give us a try and pushes us further up in the Amazon algorithm. You can also follow me on Twitter @vg_oftheday where I’m hoping to announce some new projects soon. Don’t forget to check back here tomorrow for another Video Game of the Day!
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