Review: NBA Jam (iPhone)

May 25, 2011

NBA Jam is definitely my favorite sports franchise. I meant to write this review months ago but I’ve been so engrossed in playing and unlocking every challenge that I’ve been neglecting everyone and everything else in life. I hate to brag, really, but I’m amazing at the original NBA Jam for the SNES. It’s something of a legend around these parts. I remember dominating at birthday parties, arcades, recently at a LAN party, and even 2 weeks ago when my brother-in-law didn’t believe me. I’m basically the Larry Bird of NBA Jam. Side note: I’ve haven’t lost since 1995. This fact may make me the most appropriate person to review the new iPhone version of the game. So what do I think of it?

If you’re looking for a modernization of the NBA Jam of 1993, look no further. Let’s be honest, there isn’t much to the game. The only rule is you can’t goal tend. Fouling is legal, you can’t go out of bounds, and it’s impossible to travel. The only significant changes are the players, the achievements, and the sound effects. The game looks and sounds great. There are top NBA players and even a few celebrities such as President Obama. What made me nervous are the controls. I’ve thrown several controllers in my time but none have been as expensive as an iPhone. Fortunately the controls are not confusing. The only complaint, and this is a consequence of having an iPhone, is your thumbs will cover the action and your palm may block the speaker – I strongly suggest earphones. What is clearly missing from the game is multiplayer. It’s actually a little weird but I wouldn’t be shocked if an update were released this summer adding the network options. But as a backup I still have my SNES plugged in and ready for a challenge.

In short, this is a solid basketball game that will scratch your itch for some mobile hoops. EA did a great job capturing not just the essence of NBA Jam, but truly translating the game to the iPhone. And it’s easy to convince my wife I’m sending a work email instead of doing a 360 dunk over Karl Malone. I highly recommend you jump in on the action!