By , on February 10, 2011

Download on the AppStore
5 out of 5


  • Classic NBA JAM with a shiny coat of paint.
  • Easy to learn arcade controls.
  • A huge variety of unlockable characters and modes.


  • Repetitive background music; thankfully iTunes is supported.
  • Multiplay modes not yet available.


If you loved the original or you're even slightly intrigued by this whacky basketball title, then I heartily recommend NBA JAM, but the lack of a multiplayer feature can be a sore point.

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There's only one thing holding me back from starting off the review by declaring NBA JAM by EA Sports an instant must-buy - there's no co-operative or multiplayer modes of any sort available. For a game that so lovingly recreates one of the Arcade and home console's most exciting basketball-related titles, it seems almost unforgivable that I can't share the fun with a friend or slam a firey ball of doom in the face of a random online player.

Coming to grips with the controls of NBA JAM for iOS devices is like learning how to ride a bike for the first time - the basic theory is easy to understand, but learning to execute it takes a few attempts. Whether you play with a 'dpad' or 'gesture' based system, you'll be using the left analogue stick to run around while the right hand manages the use of your Turbo, Shoot/Block and Pass/Steal buttons. Pulling off insane stunts like super dunks and mind-blowing alley-oops is easy enough once you learn how to slide from the turbo in to a shot, but putting up a defense in the form of stealing or shoving can be a real crap-shoot as the AI players react with an (understandably) inhuman level of speed to your actions.

It almost feels wrong to praise a game for basically reproducing a classic title in toto, as it seems lazy to simply update the game's technical features by replacing sprites with 3D models and pixelated heads with Jib Jab-esque photo cut-outs. Unfortunately for someone like myself (a rabid player of the original Arcade title), this results in a game that pushes all the right buttons and keeping classic bonus characters like The Beastie Boys and Bill & Hilary Clinton in the game is a great nod to the original.

NBA JAM is all about the spectacle of the game you're playing; tactically speaking there are a few things you can do to get an edge, but luck plays just as much of a role in winning as your skill. For some this may be a deal-breaker, but it's an easy game to forgive when you're flipping out a mile-high with a ball that's on fire before breaking a glass backboard with a giant-headed Al Gore.


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