Electronic Arts has brought the classic NBA Jam franchise to the iPad in explosive fashion, featuring all of the game’s trademark features like Big Head Mode and the over-the-top voice of Tim Kitzrow.
In addition to the classic staples, fans of the original arcade hit will be thrilled to have a version that this version also adds a healthy variety of additional features. Whether you want to play against three of you friends via WiFi or Bluetooth, or tackle the Campaign mode on your own, NBA Jam for iPad provides plenty of fast-paced arcade action.
In case you’re unfamiliar with the series, NBA Jam originated in the arcades during the mid-90s. It quickly gained popularity for its fast-paced 2-on-2 gameplay, easy accessibility, and comical gameplay features. The games were quick, the dunks were spectacular, and as a result, piles of quarters were dropped into arcade cabinets all over the country.
After a brief respite, Electronic Arts has been working for the past year to resuscitate the franchise, with versions on the various home consoles and handhelds. Staying true to what made the original games so popular, EA has wisely brought back things like the aforementioned Big Head Mode, classic players like Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan, while updating the rosters for today’s NBA stars.
The iPad version of NBA Jam contains many of the modes and features found in the console counterparts. All the voice work from Tim Kitzrow is intact (“He’s on fire!”, “From downtown!”), and from a graphical standpoint, the game looks on par with what you’d see in the home versions. Of course, NBA Jam has never been known for having cutting edge graphics, but all the cartoonish characteristics you’d expect are intact here.
Players are able to choose any NBA team, and a limited roster from said team. The playable characters generally consist of a few current stars and unlockable stars from years past. These players are unlocked by completing various tasks during the game, or can be purchases outright through the NBA Jam store. All of the unlockables are available for a mere $3, so if you don’t feel like slogging through the game for all the features, this is a nice – and fairly inexpensive – option.
Local multiplayer for up to four players is also available via WiFi or Bluetooth. Players are able to either create or search for a game, and each player must have his/her own copy of the game. In the tests I ran, multiplayer gameplay was mostly smooth and glitch-free.
Electronic Arts generally excels in adapting their games for the button-free iOS devices, and while they’ve used an on-screen control scheme for NBA Jam, it works fairly well. Rather than tap separate virtual buttons with the left thumb, players learn to slide their thumbs from one button to another via a brief and handy tutorial. This configuration doesn’t always work as well as it should, but it’s a nice and relatively intuitive solution to the no-button problem.
Bottom Line: Ten bucks and worth every penny, NBA Jam for iPad is a wonderful conversion of the classic arcade franchise.
NBA Jam for iPad is compatible with iPad. Requires iOS 3.2 or later.