Forgive us for sounding worried, but EA has announced classic Midway franchise NBA Jam is making a return… as a Wii exclusive.
With Midway kaput, original Jam designer Mark Turmell is now with EA Tiburon, the studio behind the update. While having the original creator on-board is promising, EA’s announcement of, “new game modes, characters and gameplay depth” is what has us worried.
Game modes are fine, and of course new characters are to be expected, but gameplay depth is the last thing NBA Jam needs. In fact, the reason Jam worked so well was its simplicity. Watering it down with spin moves and dekes, as EA did with NBA Street and Midway with NBA Ballers, is missing the point.
Jam was about pacing, the ability to whip the players around the court for a satisfying spinning dunk or smooth, floating jumper. Taking that away is removing the very essence of the game. Midway’s own spin-off, NBA Hangtime, attempted slight modifications such as fade-away shots. All that proved was how unnecessary those additions were.
Where Midway scored was with NBA Showtime, a 3-D revitalized NBA Jam with NBC logos and music. The vastly underrated two-on-two title was slightly hampered by a sequel, NBA Hoopz, which added season play, but also an extra player on the court. Combining those two titles is where the mix should lie, a nice blend of simulation-styled season play and fast, pinpoint accurate movement on the court. Anything else is gearing people up for disappointment.