Reviving arcade classics for a home console isn’t anything new, yet leaving the gameplay virtually identical is new. If you remember playing the classic fast-paced NBA Jam in the arcades, you’ll feel instantly at home with its modern revival. The Wii version of the game has been out for number of weeks now, but the HD versions have so far been missing in action. We went hands-on with the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions to see what improvements, if any, there are over their Wii counterpart.
NBA Jam’s two-on-two basketball action is the same as it’s ever been; fast-paced, full of slam dunks, and ridiculously over the top. You take control of one player from one of 30 teams, all officially licensed from the NBA. There might be differences between teams in the real world, but in Jam, it doesn't really matter whom you choose as high-flying slam dunks take priority over any basic fundamentals.
Thankfully over-the-top slam dunks are easy to pull off, and in our hands-on, we were shooting hoops with the best of them. We didn’t notice any difference in the way the game played compared to the Wii version. The major differences come from the visuals, which have seen a significant HD overhaul. The oversized heads of the players looked great, and it was easy to pick out the faces of famous NBA players.
The flat cardboard-cutout style of the crowd and coaches remains, but again, it’s easy to pick out faces in the crowd, thanks to the higher resolution textures. The court itself has also been improved, with added floor reflections, lighting, and effects. Landing an epic slam dunk unleashes a barrage of colors and effects, one of which sees the whole net set ablaze in a visually satisfying barrage of flame.
The four-player multiplayer element remains in the HD versions, and you will also be able to take the action online across Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network. A number of more in-depth online features are to be added via a patch in December, though sadly EA was keeping mum on those features. NBA Jam hits the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on November 17. For more of a look at what might be in store for you, check out GameSpot’s review of the Wii Version.