Sunday, March 21, 2010

The ABDB Archives: NBA Jam

A year ago, I wrote a couple of stories on basketball video games for handle magazine out of Australia. Unfortunately, the magazine folded just as the issue was to be published, and the stories have been in my archives until now. But as I'm excited about the return of one of the best video games ever, NBA Jam, I decided to bring them out.

It's actually an intro, but I feel the trailer for the new Jam game speaks for itself.
In the early 90’s the acquisition of the NBA license, with the inclusion of team names, logos, uniforms and player likenesses took video games one more step towards realism. NBA Jam and NBA Live pioneered arcade and console gaming respectively, opening the floodgates for others to follow.

Midway’s NBA Jam in 1993 was the first licensed NBA arcade game, offering a superhuman animated experience of sky high dunks and spectacular shots, with the only hold barred being goaltending… everything else was fair game. With two-man rosters of all the NBA teams, (minus Michael Jordan), the characters you controlled actually resembled the athletes, while the colour commentary, particularly, “He’s on fire”, was permanently ingrained into the basketball lexicon. Generating over 1 billion dollars in its original run, it crystallized basketball and video games’ rich history together.

If Jam was the pre-season, NBA Live was the Finals. EA Sports set a new standard for console gaming in 1995, building on the platform of 1990’s, Lakers vs. Celtics, with better graphics and game play. NBA Live ‘95 started the iconic franchise which has sold over 20 million copies globally, and offered all of the league rosters, players, and signature moves, becoming the truest five on five basketball simulator out there.

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