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Which Console Did You Buy/Receive Over The Holidays?

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Game Profile
Acclaim Austin
GENRE: Sports
PLAYERS:   1-4
September 30, 2003




NBA Jam 2002

More in this Series
 Written by Alex Fitzgerald  on September 15, 2003

First Impressions: Boom Shocka Locka!

It's a story we've seen unfold many a time. A great franchise starts, captures the gaming population's collective imagination, and then fades into the distance. One of the first franchises that suffered from the deadly virus known as "getting old" was NBA Jam. Back when the game first hit the 16-bit consoles it was a smash, as gamers gladly packed around their TVs on the weekends to beat up on their buddies with ridiculously impossible dunks, half court shots, and gruesomely painful intentional fouls. As the world turned though the NBA Jam franchise started to get stale. In the face of tumbling sales NBA Jam's developers tried to save the franchise by making it more sim-like, but it helped little. Soon, NBA Jam felt older than a piece of cheese you forgot was in the fridge, and as such the series faded away.

Or so we thought. It seems Acclaim isn't quite ready to let the series die without at least one great comeback attempt. Thus, we have NBA Jam, a new game in the series set to come out for the Xbox. The game will feature everything we used to know and love about the NBA Jam series, but there will also be some new additions thrown into the mix that Acclaim hopes will help make the series seem fresher.

For one thing, the new NBA Jam will have a lot more moves for your virtual players to take advantage of then ever before in an NBA Jam. How many moves you ask? Acclaim is promising more than 700 moves when the game's released, including killer dunks, sweet crossover dribbles, and the all important 20 foot jump.

Another feature within the new Jam is the alley-oop system. Instead of leaving it to player AI, like in other basketball games, the game will instead give you responsibility over your player, requiring you to press a button to send your team mate up in the air.

Other than these things though the rest of the NBA Jam system seems pretty well intact...all though that's not really a bad thing. The series has made a successful transformation back to its arcade roots (thank god) so now players can experience all the button mashing action Jam was famous for on their next generation systems.

There have been some modifications though to the basic formula though that while not out right additions to the formula should do a good job of spicing things up a bit. Getting your player on fire now requires you to fill a special meter and than drain a jump shot from a special "on fire" marker on the court instead of just sinking three shots in a row. Also, defense has been made a bit easier, as players will find it much easier to block shots than in other games in the Jam series.

Unlockables will also be a lot better this time around. Instead of getting weak codes and new jerseys like in other basketball games players will be able to unlock classic hoopsters by going through the game's Tournament Legends mode. What was that? A chance to dunk as Kareem Abdul Jabar? Sweet!

Of course, the biggest improvement anyone can see with this Jam over the other NBA Jams is the graphics. As such, the graphics look very stylish this time around, with the player models containing large amounts of detail that is only complemented by the game's cartoonish/realistic art style. Add a constant 60 frames per second framerate and some beautiful looking special graphical effects and it sounds like Acclaim really knows what they're doing this time around.

Final Thoughts
When NBA Jam gets released it's going to face some stiff competition from the likes of NBA Street and its copycat brethren (NBA Ballers, Street Hoops, etc.) Still, even if NBA Jam's retro appeal fails to bring Acclaim the sales it wants, the game still looks like its going to be a solid entry into the arcade sports field, and a great game to bring to a gaming party and really...isn't that all we want?

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