Review by Retro

"The best of the high flying NBA Jam series!"

NBA Jam Tournament Edition is a lot like the original NBA Jam, only better in most ways. The game is still played the same way in almost all aspects. It's still 2-on-2 basketball, the dunks are still jaw-dropping, the players still get on fire after 3 successful baskets in a row, and so on.

To start off, I don't see any ways in which NBA Jam Tournament Edition (T.E. for short) fails to improve on the groundbreaking original. Instead of just two players on each team, in NBA Jam T.E. there are three on each team. At halftime, you get to change your players, there are even more out of this world dunks, and there are A LOT of great extras that will keep the replay value sky high until the game no longer works. These great extras are mainly what I'm going to talk about in this review.

Most of the best extras that are included in NBA Jam T.E. that weren't seen in the original, are accessible under the Options part of the menu on the title screen. When you go to Options, you'll see that you can configure a lot of things such as how fast the clock counts down (there are 3 minutes in each quarter), whether or not to have one of your players controlled by the computer, the controller configuration, view/delete the records in the game, and so on. At the bottom of the Options menu, you will see where it says Special Features Menu. Now THIS is the best added feature that NBA Jam T.E. has that the original NBA Jam didn't.

At the Special Features Menu, you can choose whether or not to play in the Tournament Mode, how many seconds are on the shot clock, and how many minutes to have in an overtime. But wait, that was only half of them and those three were the boring ones. The other three are Juice Mode, Hot Spots, and Powerup Icons. Juice Mode gives you the ability to make the whole game of basketball faster by making the players faster by x1, x2, x3, or x4. Hot Spots can add a whole new dimension to the game, especially the scores. When you enable hot spots, a star with a number on it will appear on the floor in certain spots after every few seconds. The number is how many points you will get if you stand on the hot spot and then shoot and make the shot. For example, if you shoot from a hot spot that has an 8 on it, you will get 8 points if you ring that shot. Finally, the Powerup Icons come in the form of spinning icons that appear from time to time on the floor while you're playing a game. There are many different icons that serve different purposes. Bomb icons (B) make everybody except the person who steps on it fall down, power icons (P) will give you more power than Arnold Schwarzenegger ever dreamed of having, speed icons (S) make you faster than a speeding bullet, fire icons (F) puts your player on fire for a few seconds, and dunk icons (D) enable you to dunk from anywhere on the floor, even if it's from the other side of the court.

Along with these many options, there are even new ways to play the game from the main menu. You can now choose any of the players and teams and practice shooting around, doing dunks, and so on, all you want by choosing Practice from the main menu. Not only can you go head to head against the computer or against a friend in a 2 player game, you can also team up with a friend and play on the same team by choosing Team Game. Oh yeah, you can play up to four players at a time in this game.

NBA Jam T.E. is better than NBA Jam in many other ways too, such as having better graphics, smoother controls, and more players to choose from. This game was made in 1994, so if you play it now for the first time and if you keep up with the NBA in real life, you'll see that it's not exactly accurate, but for 1994 it was. In 1994, there wasn't any Canadian teams, so don't expect to see but 27 of the NBA teams. But to make up for that, there is a rookie team included that includes such players as Grant Hill, Jason Kidd, Jalen Rose, Eric Montross, Eddie Jones, and many more. Also, you won't see a few NBA superstars such as Michael Jordan or Charles Barkley because they were under contract with other video games.

The last thing about NBA Jam T.E. that I'll tell you about are its many secrets, which have always been my favorite aspect of the game other than the gameplay itself. I won't tell you the codes, but I will mention a few of them. One of my favorite things about NBA Jam was to use the hidden characters. There are more than twice as many hidden characters in NBA Jam T.E., believe it or not. A lot of the people that made the game such as Mark Turmell and Sal Divita are included, and there are many celebrities and other sports stars included such as Will Smith, Frank Thomas, a few NBA mascots, Larry Bird, and even Bill Clinton. The hidden characters are usually better than the NBA players in the game, and you can get them by entering certain codes. There are also a number of other fun codes to use such as being on fire all game, using rainbow shots, and my personal favorite, playing the game on a slippery court.

With all of the ways that NBA Jam T.E. has been updated from the original in the series, and with all the great codes and hidden characters, NBA Jam T.E. makes for one of the best and one of the most addictive sports games ever made. Myself, I haven't ever been super crazy about sports games in general, but I like the NBA Jam series and I can say without a doubt that NBA Jam T.E. is my favorite in the series, and it's one of my favorite sports games of all time. Whether you like basketball and sports video games or not, give NBA Jam T.E. a chance. It's not like a regular basketball video game, and that's why it's so good!

GRAPHICS - NBA Jam Tournament Edition's graphics are well done, but they're not spectacular by any means. The players have decent animation and detail, and the background, consisting of the audience, is somewhat detailed for the time, but there's not anything that stands out. On the upside, I did like some of the graphical effects such as seeing the crowd in the background rafters move up and down every time a player sinks a shot, and I liked the fire effects for when a player gets on fire.

SOUND - Most of the sound effects, especially the sound of the ball going through the net, are well done. The music is definitely the best part of the game in the sound category. The couple of tunes that there are, are real catchy and well worth just sitting back and listening to. My only complaint is that there's not any music that plays during the game. Finally, the commentator that talks during the game does a great job. He doesn't get boring or say the same things over and over too much.

CONTROL - The controls in NBA Jam T.E. are just like they were in NBA Jam, except maybe a little bit more fluid, and better.

REPLAY VALUE - NBA Jam T.E. is one of the multiplayer games that I've played the most. Other than Super Mario Kart, I've played NBA Jam T.E. more than any other multiplayer game for the Super Nintendo without a doubt. It's a lot of fun and there's so many extras and codes that this game will never get old. I won't tell you what happens, but if you play a one player game and beat all 27 teams, you'll be able to do even more stuff!

OVERALL - NBA Jam T.E. is one of my favorite sports titles of all time, and that's saying a lot cause I don't like all that many sports video games. Almost everything about it is great, especially the gameplay and the fun factor!

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 07/11/01, Updated 05/20/02

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