NBA Jam E3 2010 Preview

QUICK TAKE: It's a little on the ugly side -- even for a Wii game -- but NBA Jam has all the fantastic arcade excitement of the original games coupled with some fun motion controls. The game also features NBA legend Detlef well as Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Larry Bird, Dennis Rodman, James Worthy, Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, and Kevin McHale.

While most sports games have been upping the level of reality and real-world production values, NBA Jam for Wii is bringing back some classic arcade excitement. This two-on-two basketball title features all the fun of the arcade original -- crazy dunks, ridiculous blocks, breakneck pace, etc. -- and combines it with the Wii's motion controls. The end result is a super enjoyable time that's great for gamers of all skill levels. NBA Jam is one of those rare sports titles that's fun for people that aren't fans of the real sport.

Let's get the bad part out of the way first. The game's visuals are unimpressive. With EA showing off graphically brilliant games like Dead Space 2 and Medal of Honor at its E3 2010 booth, NBA Jam just looked ugly. Even in the context of other Wii games, the graphics were ordinary at best. Yeah, I know this franchise has never been about cutting-edge graphics, but the most recent version look really dated.

Unsightly graphics aside, I had a blast with the NBA Jam. I played two games as the Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant and Rumble the Bison. As expected, the game plays extremely fast. Getting used to the motion controls was fairly easy. For the most part, it plays as if you were using a gamepad. The biggest difference is shooting, which requires an up-and-down action on the Wiimote. Passing, stealing, shoving, blocking, and shooting jump shots were a breeze. The only area where I had difficulty was dunking. Most of my dunks were blocked -- even the ones that were fueled by turbo. I'm guessing that the timing on dunks is something that I didn't pick up on...or the dude I was playing was a defensive genius. (For the record, I still won both games.)

Despite the graphics and the hilarity of a videogame that boasts about having Detlef Schrempf, I really enjoyed my time with NBA Jam. It seems like a good choice for some quick and mindless gameplay, as well as an excellent choice for a four-player party game. With a mix or current players and legends (of which there are still more to be announced), NBA Jam will appeal to Wii gamers of all ages and skill levels.

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