Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Boom shaka laka

If you haven't played the new NBA Jam game for the Wii yet, you're probably wondering how different it is from the classic SNES home version. More importantly, do these differences improve on an already classic game? Here's Jacob's breakdown to the rescue:

- They added a crossover dribble move which players can use to blow past defenders while avoiding shoves and swipes. It is difficult to execute, but worth it.
- Teammates can now throw alley-oops to each other. This is by far the biggest improvement on the original, as it's basically unstoppable once you get it down, although it does require a modicum of planning if you're doing 2 players co-op.
- There are several different game modes, including 21, Domination (where you must shoot from certain spots on the floor to build up points) and an incredibly fun shatter-the-backboard game.
- It's a lot easier to block shots (which unfortunately, means it's also very easier to get your shot stuffed).
- Naturally the NBA is a whole lot better today than it was in the mid-90s (the era of Jordan's first retirement), so there are more good teams than the original, which had some teams that just flat-out sucked.
- You can play on actual simulations of a team's home court, complete with coach and bench players on the sidelines.
- The announcer is a lot more chatty than he used to be. Whether this constitutes an improvement depends on your tolerance level for non sequiturs and endless puns on the word "dunk". I like how he names specific players in his commentary and it just wouldn't be NBA Jam without a cheesy voice shouting out "Boom shaka laka!" every few minutes.

- In the original game, shoving was a lot quicker, so if you missed you could still keep up with your man. In this one, shoving stops you dead in your tracks, so you better get it right or your opponent will soon be taking a dunk on your face.
- As mentioned above, it's a lot easier to get your shot blocked.
- For some reason, classic campaign is really REALLY hard (unless you play it on easy). I don't remember getting blown out by 20+ points every game in the original.
- It's harder to make your CPU opponent shoot because they moved that action to the extra button on the Wii remote. In the original, simply tapping the shoot button while your teammate had the ball caused him to hoist it. Now that just causes your teammate to commit a turnover.
- Apparently you can't shove a guy while he's in midair. That used to be my entire defensive plan.

- Three straight buckets still causes your guy to be "ON FIRE!", at which point the dunks become ridiculously insane (or insanely ridiculous)
- The graphics are still pretty low-quality for the system (but who cares)
- The gameplay is still incredibly repetitive (like most classic arcade games)

Overall I feel they kept enough of the things we loved about the classic version while adding several improvements to make this game worth renting. But I don't know how much people who don't know the original would be into it. Nostalgia is a big part of the appeal. Still, it pretty well represents what us classic gamers loved about the era of classic games.


Austin said...

Good review, it makes me want to try it, but not buy it.

Of course, I've played the original NBA Jam but never owned it, so I may not be its target audience. However, I am married to its target audience, so I'm guessing we'll get it eventually/around Tracie's bday.

Tracie said...

Ah NBA Jam. Fond memories.

I like your review. I'm excited to try it on the Wii. We'll probably eventually get it and play it and love it.

Jacob I. McMillan said...

I think you guys are the exact target audience for this game, T-Mac. You guys should buy it so that somebody I know can unlock all the cool hidden stuff in the game. I found Pippen and Shaq but have to return it tomorrow.