Acclaim is once again taking aim at arcade-style basketball with NBA Jam Extreme. One must wonder what they're hoping to accomplish. After all, Acclaim's first attempt at this type of game, College Slam, was the bottom of the barrel in terms of graphics and gameplay. And even though NBA Jam Extreme has an all-new engine under the hood, is this offering more than repackaged, marketing-backed junk? Yes and no.
This game is pure NBA Jam - fast moving two- on-two basketball. Thanks to Acclaim's new 3-D polygonal engine, the game finally gets a much-needed makeover. In fact, the graphics even outshine Williams' NBA Hangtime (Williams developed all of the pre-College Slam NBA Jam games, and is now in competition with Acclaim). Even so, Extreme looks good, but not great. Adding to the game's excitement is NBA announcer Marv Albert. He has over 2000 lines, including classics like, "Boom-shaka-laka!" His phrases blend together over time, but his commentary stays fresh throughout the game. Also new to this version are more players from each team, the addition of realistic courts, and the new "Extreme" button (which in reality is nothing more than a hyped version of the turbo button).
However, what really makes this, and all other NBA Jam games, worthwhile are the hidden features. Extreme contains 60 hidden characters and a variety of hidden teams (in addition to all the NBA teams with a selection of real players), plus 30 dazzling new dunks and dances. Also included is the ever popular "big head" feature. These Easter eggs give this game and the series its personality - although NBA Hangtime does it a bit better (that game even has a guy with bunny ears!).
The modes of play range from exhibition to the round robin mode, in which you have to win to stay alive. The best mode is still one-on-one or two-on-two. The fast-paced competitive nature of this game has always been the series' best play feature. However, Extreme's moves a tend to be a bit slower than previous versions, and the excessive load time is also a drag. Even so, NBA Jam Extreme is near the top of multiplayer arcade-style basketball games.