While the Nintendo 64 version of NBA Jam 99 may have been a more serious affair than most of the previous games to bear the NBA Jam name, NBA Jam 99 on the Game Boy Color takes it back to the two-on-two arcade action that the series is famous for. In fact, the game is little more than an updated version of NBA Jam Tournament Edition, which Torus Games and Acclaim put together in 1995.
For starters, even on an old grayscale Game Boy, the graphics are a lot cleaner than NBA JAM TE's were. The players look and move much better, as well. Most of the same player animations have been used, right down to the various dunks. Many sounds were also carried over from the old game. The music is especially annoying, but, thankfully, it can be disabled in the pregame options.
Speaking of options, the game's got a ton of them. You can set tag mode (which lets you play as both players on your team instead of locking you into single player), juice mode (which, if set all the way up to x5, makes the game run obscenely fast), power-ups, hotspots, and even a new option, which lets you choose whether the CPU plays an offensive game, a defensive game, or a balanced game. On the mode front, there's a practice mode, a season mode, a quick-play mode, and the playoffs. Your stats are maintained by a password system.
The gameplay is identical to NBA Jam TE. The A button passes and steals, B shoots and jumps, and the Start button is used for turbo. It's not a very elegant control scheme, since you'll be holding down Start 90 percent of the time. The controls can be changed, but with only two main buttons on the system, you're always going to be left reaching over to hit Start from time to time.
Even in the arcade, NBA Jam was a game best played with four people. Since this version of the game can't do that, it does suffer a little bit. The poor sound and awkward control definitely don't help, either. But if you were a fan of previous NBA Jam games on the Game Boy, and you don't mind the fact that 99 is merely a colorized rehash of NBA Jam TE, then go right ahead and pick this one up.