Developer: Electronic Arts
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Has the NBA lockout got you down? Can’t afford NBA 2k12? Electronic Arts is here to help you out with the follow-up to last year’s revamped classic in NBA Jam: On Fire Edition. The classic arcade-style basketball is back, with the over-the-top, above-the-rim style of basketball you remember with a few changes on the XBox Live Arcade and Playstation Store. If you feel like setting aside a mere $15 for this title, I’ll send the alley then you send the oop, here’s the review.
He’s on fire
Not much has changed from last year’s version of NBA Jam as far as looks go. However, if you haven’t played last year’s version but remember the original then you’ll notice a somewhat dramatic change in the players. Since it is an exclusive Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network title, the game is in HD. The audience and other background people look like animated cardboard cutouts of the same few people plastered over the arena. Some cheerleaders have the animated body but might have the heads of some female members of the development team. The players themselves mostly have the same body types but with the heads of the players taken from pictures, which creates a comical feel, especially when you use “Big Head” mode.
Arenas have the same scorers table that shows both the time left in the quarter and the shot clock on both sides of the court. The courts themselves look like the authentic floors you would see when you watch a basketball game. The only difference is that the courts and rims feel smaller because the players are bigger and much faster.
Is this how you spell “Boomshakalaka”?
Whereas realistic sports simulations offer up season and franchise modes, NBA Jam: On Fire Edition provides fewer options than its realistic counterparts. The On Fire Edition offers up some of the same modes as the previous NBA Jam with the exception of the Remix Tour. The Online Arena offers up the same modes as the single-player experience to allow for co-op and work up more experience points to use in the NBA Jam Store to buy unlockable players. Different balls are also available to use in the game (such as an eyeball and an 8-ball), as are other logos used to customize your banner for online play.
Experience points can be earned a little at a time in the Jam Now mode, or you can gather larger amounts in the Road Trip mode. Road Trip is where you select a division and take on a franchise in three different contests while completing a list of challenges such as blocking an opponent five times. The first contest is usually a 2-on-2 with the current players, but the second and third contests are where things get changed up. This is where the remnants of the Remix tour come into play as the second and third contests offer up different challenges such as games where dunks are worth three points and three-pointers are worth four points.
The change in the Road Trip mode shows up as the ability to go from one team to another and one division to another, instead of sticking to one team until you finish. This is a welcome modification to the game, offering the best of the Remix Mode and combining it with the Road Trip mode to condense it into a smaller game, but in a good way.
Other additions to the On Fire Edition are Razzle Dazzle and Team Fire. Razzle Dazzle allows you to taunt your opponents while you have the ball. Team Fire allows both members on the court to have the benefits of being “on fire” after the team make three alley-oops in a row. This generally lasts about 20-30 seconds, and cannot be extinguished unless the opposing team make an alley-oop of their own or time runs out.
HE’S ON FIRE!!!
Controls in the game are very simple. For the most part, on offense it’s only shoot and pass, while on defense it’s steal and block, except that when you push the turbo button, steal becomes shove. However, the simplified controls are slightly delayed on defense when you try to block a shot, so you’ll need to work on your timing. But even with a slight learning curve, the rest of the game is quite responsive and simple.
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, IT’S AN ALLEY OOP!!!
When it comes to the sounds of this game, the most important thing to mention is that Tim Kitrow is the announcer, bringing a lot of joy to old-school NBA Jam fans. He’s just as over the top with his one-liners as the game is. Everything else in the background, such as the music and the crowd, work well for the game but aren’t anything that you really notice while playing.
Too big, too strong, too fast…too good
The overall experience of the game is a great one, but the major flaw is that there almost isn’t enough to do in the game. Granted, Road Trip and the online features will keep you busy at your own pace, but a modified season mode or maybe some type of ladder mode where you take on each team individually would have been nice.
Thankfully, the pros of the game outweigh the cons. The developers play up the nostalgia factor while refreshing the franchise. NBA Jam: On Fire Edition does a lot of things right and executes them all with precision. Gameplay is fluid, fast, and a lot of fun, yet simple enough to pick up and play for just about anyone. Not to mention that at only $15 or about 1200 Microsoft Points, it won’t put a great dent in your wallet.
NBA Jam: On Fire Edition offers enhanced gameplay, updated rosters, new legends, and maintains the old-school, over-the-top feel of the original NBA Jam. If you love arcade-style basketball, NBA Jam: On Fire Edition is right up your alley and is worth the download.
Final Verdict: NBA Jam: On Fire Edition gets 9 glass-shattering slam dunks out of 10.
[xrr rating=9/10, max_stars=10]
This review is based on a retail version of the Playstation 3 copy of NBA Jam: On Fire Edition by EA Sports