For many people, the 90s was the National Basketball Association‘s Golden Age, and taking advantage in videogaming allowed the arrival of one of the all-time best sports videogames, NBA Jam. A videogame that delighted many fans of both basketball and videogames, with its amazing pace, being able to play as all-star athletes and spectacular slam dunks.
So the following year must have a sequel, taking advantage of the videogame’s success. And, 90s-style, the game was delivered with more chills, more all-star players and more amazing slam dunks. Of course, all of this with more coins to be deposited in the arcade machine, coming from basketball fans’ pockets.
Controller: Joystick with 3 buttons.
Using the original game as blueprint, it was an interesting challenge to find what to maintain (why rock the boat?), and at the same time what new features to add looking to get new fans.
The idea of two players at the court at the same time returns, the graphics had a small makeup, actually the faces look a lot better and it’s easier to distinguish one player from the other, although it was already a great feature in NBA Jam.
The announcer with their emotional yellings describing the plays as they happen, return with no changes. However the overall difficulty of the game rised up a bit, which newer fans found it with a rougher steep-up learning curve than more experiencing players, which doubtless will find the more difficult game a more than welcome challenge.
Also, it’s more notorious that more and more NBA star players are starting to manage their own license, instead of the league managing it. If you were a fan of the league at the time, you’ll probably complain that there are missing stars. But, on the other side, the development costs would rise so high to become an unprofitable product.
The control schema remains the same, and if you want to learn what is, we recommend to go and read the original NBA Jam entry in this site. The challenge is still the same: beat all the NBA teams in the game.
You still have to insert the same amount of coins to play a full match. Also, you can still record your wins and losses using the combination of initials and birthday. The order of facing the teams look the same overall, but you can see if a team has improved (or not) respecting to the previous season.
The 27 teams of the League until 1994 are still available, even updating logos (only Denver).
The biggest change is in the teams’ rosters, because it’s possible in most teams to choose 2 players to play in the court from a pool of 3. You can change a player at half-time (although is not mandatory) due to fatigue or adjust your overall strategy because of how is playing the other team. For some reason I haven’t found only the Philadelphia 76ers (and in some versions, also the Phoenix Suns) do not have three players in its roster.
And this feature of rotating players is amazing, because you can start the match with a lot of power at the paint and then change for a terrific sharpshooter at half-time. I found that getting rebounds, either at offense or defense, plays a greater role in this game. This can really be helpful in getting second or third chances at the basket, or denying them to the other team.
It’s interesting that there are a few versions of this game, being the rosters the main difference. For example in the last version, Charles Barkley appears with Phoenix not appearing in the other versions. Other example are Robert Horry and Sean Elliot who in one version play with Detroit and Houston, while in the other versions change teams.
Consider also that if the player beat all the teams, more players become available in the rosters (sans Philadelphia 76ers).
Finally, there are no fouls in the match, but hitting at will your rivals is harder to accomplish, although it also applies to the Artificial Intelligence. I was forgetting that there is more variety with over-the-top slam dunks. The rules for a player to become “on fire” still apply, but are harder to accomplish.
The videogame was ported to the following platforms:
- Atari Jaguar
- Nintendo Game Boy
- Nintendo Super NES
- Personal Computers with DOS
- Sega 32X
- Sega GameGear
- Sega Genesis
- Sega Saturn
- Sony PlayStation
Truth be said, it was an incredible surprise this sequel. The port I played the most was the Super Nintendo one. Adding more recognizable players and the hability to change strategy changing a player at half-time was a superior move, and making it harder (a common practice in videogame franchises, not only in basketball) was a real welcomed change.
I particulary found myself from being a mid-card at most, in friends’ tournaments, to become a feared player. The reason of my success was mastering the rebounds, so I became a regular user of either San Antonio Spurs (for Dennis Rodman) or Denver Nuggets (for Dikembe Mutombo). True, I wasn’t a scoring machine, but took a pleasure in denying my rival of chances to score.
Some teams also become more powerful, when used right. And the additions at rosters opened up a lot of strategies for creative people. A good friend of mine, who was a regular mainstay at the finals of almost every tournament we organized back then almost always used Indiana, combining lethal long distance shots of Reggie Miller with the power in the paint of Rik Smits.
Highly recommended to play alone, or with friends either cooperative or in tournaments with friends who also are basketball fans.
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Console Icon taken from Retroarch.
NBA logos taken from SportsLogos.net.