NBA Jam '99
Yet another basketball game! They keep coming thick and fast, don't they!
Here's a little list for you. NBA Courtside. NBA Hangtime. NBA Pro '98. NBA Live '99. Now, here's NBA Jam '99. Deepest joy resonates throughout the land as this cart is slipped into place, the N64's power switch is slid upwards and crowds gather around the screen as it warms up. What has it got in store for us? Our thumbs are twitching, sweat breaks out on our foreheads... our verdict? It's the same as usual. The same! The same! The same! Ahahahahaha, they're coming for us, hahahah!
Beyond A Joke?
Let us recap the finer details of basketball, in case you've been locked in solitary confinement for the past couple of years with nothing but an imaginary friend and a stained bed pan for company. Get ball. Run with ball. Put ball through hoop. Got it? Good! So then, where does this one break the mould and come storming home?
Thankfully, NBA Jam is incredibly sharp and the players are not only clearly distinguishable but are animated to such an extent we could clearly tell who was who by their facial animation. Now, that is smart! The players' movement doesn't reflect their pretty little bodies though, because it is slightly treacly. Despite moving in all the right places, they just don't do it quickly enough, which tends to detract any urgency to getting hold of that ball.
All the in-game menus are extremely accessible and avoid getting bogged down with pointless stats and multiple sub-menus. You simply access what you want, highlight it, then move on. Lo and behold, there's a quickstart option too. Praise Jordan!
The actual physics of the basketball are wonderful. Unlike some games where simply being in the scoring zones ensures the ball goes in, if you are even slightly off-target that baby will certainly punish you for your inaccuracy. Throw it too hard and it will react exactly as you would expect, bouncing all over the place and probably into the opposition's possession - which isn't a good thing. Their AI makes sure that if you do manage a basket it is well deserved, as they have a tendency to mark your men like flies around... well, you know. The system for communication between your own team is well designed, so learning to use the court and position your guys soon becomes second nature. Simply press the R button to call to one of your men, then pass to him.
As far as being an original entry into the basketball market goes, NBA Jam '99 is about as original as a packet of ready salted crisps. It neither outshines its rivals, nor is overshadowed by their quality. NBA Jam '99 is merely another entry that just happens to be slightly better than most of the other recent releases. It Is both well designed and well constructed though, so for a first time basketball game buyer, it might be worth a look.
2nd rating opinion
With so many basketball games on the scene it's difficult to get excited over another one. However, this one plays very well, looks nice and has some realistic action. If you're into basketball then you can't go far wrong. And if you're not... It's still worth a look!
NBA Jam '99 DownloadsNBA Jam '99 download
Due for release In the States In a matter of days, the first serious challenger to Kobe Bryant's crown as the N64's basketball king is Acclaim's impressive looking NBA Jam 99.
Unsurprisingly it's a huge advance in terms of presentation from Nintendo's playable-but-bare game. The players warm up and take practice shots while the announcers set the scene and introduce the teams, there is a greater variety of special moves and dunk animations, and the action is depicted with slinky hi-res graphics throughout. The sound extends beyond the usual squeak of plimsoll on varnish, helped by a chatty commentary team who might well be the John Motson and Big Ron of the American sports scene. Except we're fairly sure that Motty has never used the expression "rim rattling" in his professional career. Even the crowd get in on the action, taunting the opposition and counting down the last few seconds of every quarter.
Cameplay is much less arcadey than NBA Courtside - it's fast and furious, but there are more controls and options to consider. Every button on the controller has a different function depending on whether you're attacking or defending, and extra tactical functions can be called up by double-tapping the С-buttons. A skills mode is included as a bonus game, where you can pick your favourite player and compete against your friends to see who can land the most free throws or three-pointers in one minute.
NBA Jam 99 isn't quite as easy to learn as Courtside, but we'd wager that any basketball fanatics out there will relish the challenge. It'll be up against some fierce competition though, in the form of NBA Live 99 and Fox Sports College Hoops.