NBA Jam

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This article is about the 1993 arcade game. For other video games of the same name, see NBA Jam (2003 video game) and NBA Jam (2010 video game).
NBA Jam
NBA Jam
Arcade promotional flyer
Developer(s) Midway
Publisher(s) Midway
Composer(s) Jon Hey
Series NBA Jam
Platform(s) Arcade,
SNES,
Sega Genesis,
Sega CD,
Game Boy,
Sega Game Gear
Release date(s) Arcade
Game Boy
  • NA November 1994
  • EU November 24, 1994
Sega Genesis
  • JP April 29, 1994
  • NA 1993
  • EU 1994
Game Gear
  • JP April 29, 1994
  • NA 1993
  • EU 1994
Sega CD
  • JP December 20, 1994
  • NA 1994
  • EU 1994
Super Nintendo Entertainment System
  • JP April 29, 1994
  • NA March 1994
  • EU March 10, 1996
Genre(s) Sports
Mode(s) Up to 4 players simultaneously
Cabinet Upright
Arcade system Midway T Unit
Display Raster, horizontal orientation, 400x254 resolution

NBA Jam is a basketball arcade game published and developed by Midway in 1993. It is the first entry in the NBA Jam series. The main designer and programmer for this game was Mark Turmell. Midway had previously released such sports games as Arch Rivals in 1989, High Impact in 1990, and Super High Impact in 1991. The gameplay of NBA Jam is based on Arch Rivals, another 2-on-2 basketball video game. However, it was the release of NBA Jam that brought mainstream success to the genre.

The game became exceptionally popular, and generated a significant amount of money for arcades after its release, creating revenue of $1 billion in quarters.[1] In early 1994 the Amusement & Music Operators Association reported that NBA Jam was the highest-earning arcade game in history.[2]

The release of NBA Jam gave rise to a new genre of sports games which were based around fast, action-packed gameplay and exaggerated realism, a formula which Midway would also later apply to the sports of football (NFL Blitz), and hockey (2 on 2 Open Ice Challenge).

Gameplay[edit]

The game employed an exaggerated, over-the-top style, demonstrated by the player dunking from superhuman heights.

NBA Jam, which featured 2-on-2 basketball, is one of the first real playable basketball arcade games, and is also one of the first sports games to feature NBA-licensed teams and players, and their real digitized likenesses.

A key feature of NBA Jam is the exaggerated nature of the play - players jump many times above their own height, making slam dunks that defy both human capabilities and the laws of physics. There are no fouls, free throws, or violations except goaltending and 24-second violations. This meant the player is able to freely shove or elbow his opponent out of the way. Additionally, the game has an "on fire" feature, where if one player makes three baskets in a row, he becomes "on fire" and has unlimited turbo and has increased shooting precision. The "on fire" mode continues until the other team scores, or until the player who is on fire scores 4 additional consecutive baskets while "on fire."

The game is filled with easter eggs, special features and players activated by initials or button/joystick combinations. For example, pressing A five times and right five times on any Sega Genesis controller would activate "Super Clean Floors". This feature would cause characters to fall if they ran too fast or changed direction too quickly. And players can enter special codes to unlock hidden players, ranging from US President Bill Clinton to Hugo the Charlotte Hornets mascot. Early versions of the sequel, NBA Jam Tournament Edition, allows players to put in codes that allow people to play as characters from Mortal Kombat, but the NBA, uneasy over the controversies surrounding Mortal Kombat's levels of violence, forced Midway to remove these characters in later updates. On the arcade machine, there is also a hidden 'tank' game that allows you to run around a 3D wireframe field. In order to access this mode however, you were required to be able to toggle the on/off switch located behind the machine. While the game was powering back on, you would hold Up + all buttons on player 1 and Down + all buttons on player 2.

Featured teams and players[edit]

The original arcade version of NBA Jam features team rosters from the 1992-93 NBA season and the console versions use rosters from the 1993-94 NBA season. More up-to-date rosters were available in subsequent ports released for the Sega CD, Game Boy, and Game Gear in 1994. Midway did not secure the license to use Michael Jordan's name or likeness (as Jordan himself owns the rights to his name and likeness, and not the NBA), and as such he was not available as a player for the Chicago Bulls or any other team. Another notable absence from the home versions is Shaquille O'Neal, who was in the arcade version as a member of the Orlando Magic. New Jersey Nets guard Dražen Petrović and Boston Celtics forward Reggie Lewis, both of whom died after the release of the arcade version, were also removed from the home versions.

A limited edition version of the game with an additional team composed of Gary Payton and Michael Jordan was developed primarily for Jordan and Payton's personal use.[3]

Note: Some home console versions of NBA Jam were coded later than others, and as a result of real-life roster changes or in the cases of Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal, legal reasons, some rosters differ from version to version.

Eastern Conference[edit]

Team Arcade SNES/Genesis Sega CD Game Boy Game Gear
Atlanta Hawks Dominique Wilkins and Stacey Augmon Dominique Wilkins and Stacey Augmon Stacey Augmon and Mookie Blaylock Stacey Augmon and Mookie Blaylock Dominique Wilkins and Stacey Augmon
Boston Celtics Reggie Lewis and Kevin McHale3 Dee Brown and Robert Parish Dee Brown and Dominique Wilkins Dee Brown and Dominique Wilkins Dee Brown and Robert Parish
Charlotte Hornets Larry Johnson and Kendall Gill Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning
Chicago Bulls Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant Scottie Pippen and B.J. Armstrong Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant
Cleveland Cavaliers Mark Price and Brad Daugherty Mark Price and Brad Daugherty Mark Price and Brad Daugherty Mark Price and Brad Daugherty Mark Price and Brad Daugherty
Detroit Pistons Isiah Thomas and Bill Laimbeer Isiah Thomas and Bill Laimbeer Terry Mills and Joe Dumars Terry Mills and Joe Dumars Isiah Thomas and Bill Laimbeer
Indiana Pacers Reggie Miller and Detlef Schrempf Reggie Miller and Derrick McKey Reggie Miller and Rik Smits Reggie Miller and Rik Smits Reggie Miller and Derrick McKey
Milwaukee Bucks Brad Lohaus and Blue Edwards Brad Lohaus and Blue Edwards Vin Baker and Eric Murdock Vin Baker and Eric Murdock Brad Lohaus and Blue Edwards
Miami Heat Rony Seikaly and Glen Rice Rony Seikaly and Harold Miner Rony Seikaly and Glen Rice Rony Seikaly and Glen Rice Rony Seikaly and Harold Miner
New Jersey Nets Derrick Coleman and Dražen Petrović1 Derrick Coleman and Kenny Anderson Derrick Coleman and Kenny Anderson Derrick Coleman and Kenny Anderson Derrick Coleman and Kenny Anderson
New York Knicks Patrick Ewing and Charles Oakley Patrick Ewing and John Starks Patrick Ewing and John Starks Patrick Ewing and John Starks Patrick Ewing and John Starks
Orlando Magic Shaquille O'Neal2 and Scott Skiles Nick Anderson and Scott Skiles Nick Anderson and Penny Hardaway Nick Anderson and Penny Hardaway Nick Anderson and Scott Skiles
Philadelphia 76ers Hersey Hawkins and Jeff Hornacek Clarence Weatherspoon and Jeff Hornacek Clarence Weatherspoon and Jeff Malone Clarence Weatherspoon and Jeff Malone Clarence Weatherspoon and Jeff Hornacek
Washington Bullets Tom Gugliotta and Harvey Grant Tom Gugliotta and Harvey Grant Tom Gugliotta and Calbert Cheaney Tom Gugliotta and Calbert Cheaney Tom Gugliotta and Harvey Grant

1Dražen Petrović was killed in a car crash between the release of the arcade version and the home ports. NBA Jam is said to be haunted by Petrović, due to a bug causing his last name to be randomly called out by the announcer.[4]

2Shaquille O'Neal appears only in the arcade version because his likeness was no longer licensed by the NBA by the time the home console versions were developed, and the cost was too high to include him in the game (much like Michael Jordan).

3Between the releases of the arcade version and the home console versions, Lewis died of a heart defect and McHale retired.

Western Conference[edit]

Team Arcade SNES/Genesis Sega CD Game Boy Game Gear
Dallas Mavericks Derek Harper and Mike Iuzzolino Derek Harper and Jim Jackson Jim Jackson and Jamal Mashburn Jim Jackson and Jamal Mashburn Derek Harper and Jim Jackson
Denver Nuggets Dikembe Mutombo and LaPhonso Ellis Dikembe Mutombo and LaPhonso Ellis Dikembe Mutombo and Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf Dikembe Mutombo and Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf Dikembe Mutombo and LaPhonso Ellis
Golden State Warriors Tim Hardaway and Chris Mullin Tim Hardaway and Chris Mullin Chris Webber and Latrell Sprewell Chris Webber and Latrell Sprewell Tim Hardaway and Chris Mullin
Houston Rockets Hakeem Olajuwon and Kenny Smith Hakeem Olajuwon and Vernon Maxwell Hakeem Olajuwon and Vernon Maxwell Hakeem Olajuwon and Vernon Maxwell Hakeem Olajuwon and Vernon Maxwell
Los Angeles Clippers Danny Manning and Ron Harper Danny Manning and Ron Harper Pooh Richardson and Ron Harper Pooh Richardson and Ron Harper Danny Manning and Ron Harper
Los Angeles Lakers James Worthy and Vlade Divac James Worthy and Vlade Divac Byron Scott and A.C. Green Sam Perkins and A.C. Green James Worthy and Vlade Divac
Minnesota Timberwolves Christian Laettner and Chuck Person Christian Laettner and Chuck Person Christian Laettner and Isaiah Rider Christian Laettner and Isaiah Rider Christian Laettner and Chuck Person
Phoenix Suns Charles Barkley and Dan Majerle Charles Barkley and Kevin Johnson1 Dan Majerle and Kevin Johnson Dan Majerle and Kevin Johnson Dan Majerle and Kevin Johnson
Portland Trail Blazers Clyde Drexler and Terry Porter Clyde Drexler and Terry Porter Clyde Drexler and Cliff Robinson Clyde Drexler and Cliff Robinson Clyde Drexler and Terry Porter
Sacramento Kings Wayman Tisdale and Spud Webb Wayman Tisdale and Mitch Richmond Wayman Tisdale and Mitch Richmond Wayman Tisdale and Mitch Richmond Wayman Tisdale and Mitch Richmond
San Antonio Spurs David Robinson and Sean Elliott David Robinson and Sean Elliott David Robinson and Chuck Person David Robinson and Dale Ellis David Robinson and Dale Ellis
Seattle SuperSonics Shawn Kemp and Benoit Benjamin Shawn Kemp and Detlef Schrempf Shawn Kemp and Detlef Schrempf Shawn Kemp and Detlef Schrempf Shawn Kemp and Detlef Schrempf
Utah Jazz Karl Malone and John Stockton Karl Malone and John Stockton Karl Malone and John Stockton Karl Malone and John Stockton Karl Malone and John Stockton

1Some earlier cartridges of the SNES, Sega Genesis, and Sega Game Gear versions have Charles Barkley and Kevin Johnson on the Phoenix Suns; however, later versions replaced Barkley with Dan Majerle because Midway lost the rights to include Barkley when Accolade developed Barkley Shut Up and Jam!.

Development[edit]

The game was devised after Midway's previous arcade release Total Carnage failed to meet sales expectations. Lead designer and programmer Turmell wanted to develop a game with a wider appeal and decided to mix the digitized graphics of some of Midway's previous titles to create a title similar to Midway's previous basketball game Arch Rivals. Midway was able to procure a license from the NBA, paying royalties of $100 for each unit sold.[1] In Midway's original pitch video to the NBA, they stated that they planned on including various additional features. These included different camera angles, tips from coaches, instant replays and a first-person view on fast breaks. None of these features were included in the final game. The graphics for the NBA players were created from digitized video footage of several amateur basketball players, including future NBA player Stephen Howard. These players were available as secret characters in certain versions of the game.[5]

In 2008, Turmell confirmed a long held suspicion that the game had a bias against the Chicago Bulls. According to Turmell, a Detroit Pistons fan, the game was programmed such that the Bulls would miss last-second shots in close games against the Pistons.[3]

Sequels/spin-offs[edit]

NBA Jam Tournament Edition[edit]

An update named NBA Jam Tournament Edition (commonly referred to as NBA Jam T.E.) featured updated rosters, new features and easter eggs combined with the same gameplay of the original. Jon Hey created new music specifically for NBA Jam T.E. to replace the original NBA Jam music. Teams now consisted of three players (with the exception of the new "Rookies" team, which consists of five players, all picked in the 1994 NBA Draft) and players could be substituted into the game at half time. The game also featured new hidden teams and hidden playable characters. Early versions of the game included characters from Midway's Mortal Kombat games. Players were also assigned more attributes, including clutch and fatigue levels. In addition, the game also introduced features such as a "Tournament" mode that turned off computer assistance and on-court hot spots that allowed for additional points or special slam dunks.

This version was also ported to the SNES, Genesis, 32X, Game Boy, Game Gear, Sega Saturn, PlayStation and Atari Jaguar.

Ports and follow-ups[edit]

Reception
Review scores
Publication Score
Famitsu 25 / 40 (T.E.) (SNES)[6]
25 / 40 (T.E.) (MegaDrive)[7]
22 / 40 (T.E.) (GameGear)[8]
Mega 91%[9]
Awards
Publication Award
Mega 7th best game of all time[10]

The NBA Jam games were ported to many home video game consoles as well as PC, beginning with the original's debut on the highly publicized Jam Day (March 4, 1994). Console versions were well known for featuring many new secret characters; the home versions of Jam T.E. even allowed the player to use then President Bill Clinton, First Lady Hillary Clinton, Vice President Al Gore and Atari's Vice President of Software Development Leonard Tramiel on the Atari Jaguar version. Acclaim published the console versions and later ended up winning the exclusive rights to use the NBA Jam name.

Acclaim used the name on NBA Jam Extreme in 1996, a 3D version of Jam which featured Marv Albert doing commentary. The game was a flop in comparison to Midway's version released that same year, rechristened NBA Hangtime. Hangtime added a create-a-player option to the usual batch of new features combined with classic, but refined NBA Jam gameplay. An update called NBA Maximum Hangtime was subsequently released.

In 1995, Acclaim released a collegiate version of NBA Jam for home consoles entitled College Slam. Although the game was created to capitalize on the popularity of March Madness and the subsequent Final Four, it did not enjoy the popularity of the earlier NBA Jam games.

However, the idea was not quite dead as Midway passed it to their other sports games. This included the hockey games 2 on 2 Open Ice Challenge and Wayne Gretzky's 3D Hockey, as well as NFL Blitz and WWF Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game. Midway produced successors to the series with 3-D graphics, NBA Showtime: NBA on NBC and NBA Hoopz. Acclaim continued to keep the NBA Jam name alive with its console games, although the games were only mildly popular.

After making the switch to develop console games exclusively, Midway used Jam's idea on several other sports, with NFL Blitz, NHL Hitz, MLB Slugfest, and RedCard 20-03. Many of Jam's influences remained in their games including the NBA Ballers series.

On October 5, 2010, EA Sports released a new version of NBA Jam for the Wii. The game was later ported to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in November 2010. Original NBA Jam creator Mark Turmell was hired to work on this new version in conjunction with EA Vancouver.[11] Following the game's critical and commercial success, a follow-up, NBA Jam: On Fire Edition was released on October 4, 2011 on PSN and XBLA on October 5, 2011.

Popular culture[edit]

In popular sports culture, the phrases "He's heating up", "He's on fire" and "Boomshakalaka!" are identified with NBA Jam. In the game these catch-phrases describe when a player hit two or three shots in a row. When a player is "on fire", the ball literally catches fire and singes the net. Voiced by Tim Kitzrow, the announcer is reminiscent of Marv Albert and has contributed numerous memorable lines to the basketball lexicon.[12] The NBA Jam script was written solely by Jon Hey.

NBA Jam also incorporated a slogan from Spike Lee's alter-ego in his 1986 film She's Gotta Have It, Mars Blackmon, who was also featured in a Nike basketball shoe television commercial at the time. The NBA Jam commentator asked, "Is it the shoes?" after a player performed spectacularly.

The upbeat, funky music written by Jon Hey was inspired by sports music themes and has been compared to George Clinton's P-Funk All Stars. Funkadelic's 1979 "(Not Just) Knee Deep" shares the most similarity with the music of NBA Jam but was recorded more than a decade before NBA Jam's music was written. The likeness of George Clinton was used as the character "P. Funk" in the console versions of NBA Jam: Tournament Edition. The original NBA Jam arcade release and the NBA Jam T. E. arcade release had different music for the title screen and for each quarter.

In July 2009, Mortal Kombat creator Ed Boon revealed (on Twitter) that a Mortal Kombat court was to be hidden in a console port of NBA Jam or NBA Hangtime.[13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Leone, Matt. "The Rise, Fall, and Return of NBA Jam". 1UP. Retrieved 26 June 2012. 
  2. ^ "NBA Jam". GamePro (56) (IDG). March 1994. p. 188. 
  3. ^ a b Robinson, Jon (28 October 2008). "You Don't Know Jam". The Gamer Blog. ESPN. 
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ Plunkett, Luke (October 26, 2011). "See how 1993’s NBA Jam was Made (and Sold to the NBA)". Kotaku. Gawker Media. Retrieved February 14, 2013. 
  6. ^ NEW GAMES CROSS REVIEW: NBA JAM トーナメント エディション. Weekly Famicom Tsūshin. No.324. Pg.39. 3 March 1995.
  7. ^ NEW GAMES CROSS REVIEW: NBA JAM トーナメント エディション. Weekly Famicom Tsūshin. No.324. Pg.42. 3 March 1995.
  8. ^ NEW GAMES CROSS REVIEW: NBA JAM トーナメント エディション. Weekly Famicom Tsūshin. No.324. Pg.43. 3 March 1995.
  9. ^ Mega review, Future Publishing, issue 18, March 1994
  10. ^ Mega Top 50 feature, Future Publishing, issue 26, page 74, November 1994
  11. ^ "EA to announce return of 'NBA Jam'". ESPN. 4 January 2010. [dead link]
  12. ^ IGN: Breaking into the Industry:
  13. ^ Hidden Mortal Kombat 'Kourt' for NBA Jam unearthed

External links[edit]