NBA Jam: On Fire Edition is a slam-dunk

Technews Writer
Thu Oct 20, 2011
I don't understand sports at all. If you were to ask me what a Zamboni is, I'd guess it is a name for the guy that plays shortstop in a foosball game. In high school, I did everything I could to get out of gym class (I even faked menstruating once - didn't work out). Essentially, anything involving knocking balls about in a large open space makes me sweaty and nervous.

That's why it's all the more miraculous that I love NBA Jam: On Fire Edition. See, I don't know anything about basketball beyond that guys wearing expensive shoes knock into each other and try to chuck a lumpy orange ball into a dangling basket. The last time I was aware of what was going on in the NBA was when The Bulls were doing so well that if one were to walk through an urban area wearing a Bulls jacket, you were likely to get jumped and have your sweet Bulls apparel stolen.

This new NBA Jam is an Xbox Live Arcade title that released recently and is available for only fifteen of your hard-earned smackers. It focuses on the classic NBA Jam two-on-two gameplay, which, for those unfamiliar with the series, is a fast-paced arcade take on basketball. There's no such thing as a foul and teams punch, dunk, and alley-oop their way to victory. It has an old-school magic with new-school graphics—heck, the game has big head mode unlocked from the start.

Despite being a zany arcade title, it's still an engaging game with lots of content to enjoy. There is an array of unlockable players and teams that includes classic basketball players, video game characters and celebrities. There are also large amounts of less exciting unlockables including visual filters, icons, backgrounds, and more. These unlockables are accessed by leveling up and gaining an in-game currency which is used to purchase them. This extends gameplay quite a bit and some of the wackier unlockable teams are pretty awesome. Beastie Boys? Politicians? They're all there.

NBA Jam can be played single player, either in an instant action mode or a campaign mode. Really, those modes are only worth playing if one is grinding to unlock items. Things can get repetitive and the AI opponents seem to cheat a bit. That doesn't matter too much though, because this is definitely a game that's meant to be enjoyed with friends. There is online play over Xbox Live, but I recommend playing with pals on the couch. It harkens back to the good ol' days of split screen classic play, when instead of just cursing out opponents, they were also within punching distance.

NBA Jam: On Fire Edition is definitely worth the price of admission. Boomshakala!