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Which Console Did You Buy/Receive Over The Holidays?

Xbox One X
Nintendo Switch
PlayStation 4

Game Profile
Game Boy
DC Studios
GENRE: Sports
February 28, 2002





More in this Series
 Written by Chris Reiter  on June 03, 2002

Review: Wham, bam, thank you ma'am!

Some sports series are more popular than others. Take Electronic Arts' Madden or the Sega sports lineup, for instance. They are the famous faces you will find that are not only the best at their game, but also the best selling. For basketball, there was once a title that, during the 16-bit era, ruled living rooms almost everywhere you went. That game was NBA Jam. With a complete lineup of all the sports teams, an unparalleled gameplay system, and neat effects like giant character heads and a flaming basketball that set the hoop on fire, it became a success both at home and in the arcades. Fortunately for those who miss it and own a Game Boy Advance, the title has now come back home again in the all-new NBA Jam 2002.

To start players off, NBA Jam 2002 contains a number of different gameplay modes. They are Season, Playoffs, Quick Game, Jam, Horse, and Practice. Season is the main mode which allows you to select any out of all 28 official NBA teams to go 28 sessions, four quarters a piece, two on two play, without losing to each and every one of the 28 different teams. The Playoff mode is similar in a way, allowing the player to do the same thing. But instead, this mode takes you through 16 matches, with four quarters in all, until you manage yourself through each of the 16 teams until the last one is left standing. And if you're disinterested in trudging through either of the long hauls of those competitions, Quick Game enters you into just a single round of four quarters, again with a two-on-two match-up. Jam, like Quick Game, will run you through four quarters. Except this mode is a no rules, no holds barred match where scoring is the only thing that applies in a fast and fierce battle to the finish. Horse is that game everyone remembers from their childhood. The computer first makes its shot in, and you have to duplicate its moves. The player who is the first to stack up the most misses with three horse heads loses. Lastly, Practice is the mode where you'll want to sharpen your court moves to get the best feel for the game before placing yourself into anything serious.

There may be quite a few choices in modes, but there are also a few quibbles I've found within them. For instance, in the Season and Playoff modes, it's extremely easy to win. For one thing, you can shoot the ball from all the way on the other side of the court, and have an 80% chance of making it in every time, even though you can't see ahead of where you're aiming from. The computer AI doesn't put up much of a fight in any level of competition and their actions are usually predictable. After you've completed your four quarters of either the Season or Playoff modes, you've got to copy down a 12-letter password that is required to later return to the spot where you last left off during the season. It is too bad that you don't have the ability to save the game through memory storage. Most of all, there's no link support provided. It's not much of a sports game when having to compete against a computer every single outing.

However, there are some shining qualities to NBA Jam 2002. For instance, every basketball star you choose has his own status points, and one might be better in his offensive or defensive properties than another one. Placed along the court are icons strewn about. These icons support your characters and allow you to score a basket no matter how far you are, or from what angle you are facing the basket. There are also icons that make you run faster for a short period of time. Even without a special icon, you can put your character into a speedier position by pressing the L button that will then boost his turbo abilities. However, the turbo function doesn't last long, and you have to wait until your gauge refills before you're able to perform it again. Controlling the players is easy and is set upon standard movements, from your basic block, pass, shoot, jump, and process of switching between your computer teammate. Overall, the game modes and the gameplay aren't very fascinating as it is for only a single player without any bells or whistles.

In the least, NBA Jam's visuals can't be classified as merely more than mediocre. I can't say I remember the 16-bit version very much, but I know that the handheld version isn't more surpassed than it. Despite that, the character animations are well done, from the way the basketball stars fall down, shoot, jump, and even run well enough for the viewer not to call them the worst graphics in the world. Mix that all up with a ball that can catch on fire after the match heats up, and you've got yourself a neat little game.

What's more annoying than hearing the announcer's voice repeat the same exact dialogue once, twice, three times, on and on, and on, and on, through every single quarter, thrown in with the occasional crazed fan that wants you to shoot the ball in? Basically, that's all you'll listen to again, and again, and again with the game of NBA Jam 2002. Yes, it's tedious. Yes, it's brain racking. Yes, it's the best kind of sound system that fits this type of game. Blatantly speaking, Jam suffers from it. But, that's not the only vexation. Say, for example, you're only jumping into the air making your 2-point shot near the basket. The announcer, for some reason, and out of nowhere, will call out, "Is he hanging on the basket?!" What that has to do with the unallocated action seen on screen is beyond me, but he'll blurt out calls that are way out of line many times. The in-game sounds like the swish of a basket and the pounding of the ball on the court on the other hand fare better, but not enough to save the game from complete doom.

Bottom Line
NBA Jam 2002 fails to deliver the basketball magic the original did, as its former maker Midway once was able to accomplish. Not saying it's the worst of the worst handheld basketball titles available, though the game is without its better half. And because of some major flaws, NBA Jam 2002 isn't for everyone. With its lack of multiplayer support and a few downgraded gameplay and graphic issues, the game is at best a weekend rental for most anyone who has, needs, or wants the urge to experience the past classic of NBA Jam for one last time.

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