Review: NBA JAM for Android

“Boomshakalaka! He’s heating up! He’s on fire!” Who didn’t love the announcer from the classic basketball video game NBA Jam? For many, this was the only sports game played at the arcade or on their Sega Genesis or Super Nintendo. Now we get to experience all the backboard breaking action once again on our phones and tablets with the recently released NBA Jam On Fire Edition. All of the ridiculous dunks and impossible mid-court shots return accompanied by insane power ups and of course, secret characters. You might remember that a console version of NBA Jam was released last year with mixed reactions mainly because of the high price point and lack of online game play. This version however, is only $4.99 and is pretty full featured (and large at 300MB) including the option to team up or go head to head with a friend over WiFi. Back again of course, is the classic arcade mode where you can take on the rest of the league one game at a time proving your mantle with your favorite franchise. For those who just want to get a quick game in, there is a play now mode allowing for a single exhibition match.

The control scheme is reminiscent of a Sega Genesis controller with the turbo button positioned in a way to press it along with the steal and shoot buttons for shoving and dunking respectively. However, instead of a D-Pad you have a digital analog stick to control your player. As with many action and sports games on phones and tablets, the lack of tactile feedback that comes from a physical button when playing a game means that occasionally you will have to look away from the action and at your fingers to make sure you are pressing the right button, if you’re even pressing one at all. While this can be slightly frustrating in close games where a block or steal misses completely because you couldn’t get your character moving in the right direction, in general it shouldn’t make the game any less fun than how you remember it. Perhaps developers can look into using the vibrate function on mobile devices to provide some type of feedback when buttons are being pressed as possible solution. Additionally, NBA legends like Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Scottie Pippen and others can be unlocked to make for some awesome combinations with current stars like Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce, and D. Rose. Long term replay value may wane over time since the game play can become a little repetitive, but breaking the backboard on a friend over WiFi is definitely just as much fun as it was at the arcade. Considering, a similar game could have been released for roughly thirty dollars more on the 3DS or Vita, for $4.99 we have to say that EA’s shot at a mobile port of this classic arcade game is nothing but net.

Grab NBA Jam on Google Play here.