Boom Shakalaka! The first time I saw NBA Jam was at an arcade machine at Godfather’s Pizza. Previous machines at the pizza joint could not entice me to use my treasured quarters. None lived up to Street Fighter 2 or Simpsons. NBA Jam was different though. You would get a great game in, choose your favorite players, and perform impressive dunks on the unsuspecting challengers.
When the NBA Jam TE came to console in 1995, we snatched this game up quick. My brother and I poured hours into it, playing multiple seasons and verses. I unlocked tricks and codes that kept the game play challenging and hilarious. Midway and Iguana had created a super addictive game with a secret menu to rival In-N-Out.
For our sports month, Crosstix and I booted up NBA Jam TE to see if it stood the test of time and still was the addictive experience it once used to suck up quarters in the arcade.
“He’s heating up!” As you start up the game and have to enter your initials. It is clear the arcade experience has been translated to the consoles. This is for the better. The game consists of two primary modes. The first mode is a quick vs mode for friends to play. The second is to take on the computer and see if you can take down every team. Using your initials the game saves your progress and which teams you have beaten in the past.
All NBA teams are included and each team has pairings of its best players. At this time there were several players who owned their own likeness and the developers were not able to get permission to get some of the best. As a result, there is no Michael Jordan or Shaq included. While the teams are not all created equal, there are many great teams and combinations to utilize. Even if you are new to the game, or unfamiliar with the players in the 1990s, stats about each player’s ability are available in the team selection page. Once you have your team the battle, and fun, begins!
“He’s on Fire!” The game centers on 2-on-2 fast paced action. Turbo becomes a key part of the game. Each player has a turbo meter. Turbo allows players to run faster, shoot better, pass quicker, and perform amazing dunks. The pinnacle of the game is when you make three shots in a row without the other team scoring. The announcer shouts that you are on fire. The bonus here is that you now have unlimited turbo, you shoot better, the ball is on fire, and you can goal tend. While it might seem like the ball blazing would be the best part of this, it is actually the goal tending. You can essentially camp the basket and block dunks and grab any shot before it goes in with no penalty. Doing so lets you keep your advantage.
One interesting stat is injury. When shoving the other team’s players, which I recommend doing as much as you can, you slow them down. The slower they are then the better target they become for more shoving and being able to steal the ball. This strategy works best against people who only have one good player on a team. They will never sit that player and the injury will build up. When playing vs the computer you can map exactly where the AI will take them after the inbounds pass. Learn the pattern and dominate!
While the game play seems simplistic there are several nuanced aspects to master. Use of turbo is one key. The second is shoving the other team. Shooting also has a few tricks. Shots released at the top of the jump with turbo on have a much higher percentage of going in.
When the game is all over you will be able to check out your, and your opponents, statistics. For a stat geek like me this is awesome. I always try to inflate the stats to see how many triples I can drop on opponents with Reggie Miller or John Stockton.
Finally, we come to what took this good game and turned it into a cult classic. There are tons of codes, cheats, and secrets in NBA Jam TE. You can turn the floor slippery, get big heads, or be always on fire. The most well known secret is the hidden roster. There are a plethora of hidden players to try out like Crunch the mascot, Fresh Prince (Will Smith), or even Bill and Hillary Clinton. The stats for the secret players are kept secret, which is unfortunate, but seeing a 90’s version of Hillary dunking is amazingly hilarious. The secrets not only increase the replay value but raise the fun level drastically.
NBA Jam TE is a fast paced 2-on-2 arcade style basketball rumble. The controls are solid. Secrets are plentiful. But the best is the game play. Enjoy the small touches, but stay for the quality game play. I highly recommend a long session with NBA Jam TE for any sports game fan out there.