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NBA Jam 99

Rated E for Everyone

Platform:

Nintendo 64 (N64)

Publisher:

Acclaim Sports

Developer:

Iguana West

Released:

December 1998

ROM Size:

96 megabits

Players:

One to Four Simultaneous

Genre:

Sports (Basketball)

Save:

Controller Pak

Optional:

Rumble Pak

 

 

> Final Rating: 3.6 out of 5.0

Introduction

NBA Jam is back! Well, except it's not the same NBA Jam you've played in the past. If you're expecting two-on-two arcade-like basketball, then you'll have to get NBA Hangtime, because NBA Jam 99 is a serious basketball simulation along the same lines as Acclaim's NFL Quarterback Club, All-Star Baseball, and NHL Breakaway series.

Gameplay & Control

NBA Jam 99 contains simulation modes, skills modes, and an arcade mode. You can choose from NBA Play, Jam Mode, Quick Play and Skills Mode at the title screen. NBA Play contains Exhibition, Season, and Playoff modes. Jam Mode is similar to the original NBA Jam, as it contains few fouls, on-fire players, and wacky dunks—but it's five-on-five basketball, not two-on-two basketball. Quick Play enables you to jump into an Exhibition match with the default settings. The Skills Mode is where you can participate in a Three Point shootout or in Free Throw practice.

 

The default control scheme makes use of all the buttons on the controller. On offense, the A button shoots, the B button passes, the Z button is turbo, and the L button toggles icon passing. Then you can use the C group for other moves. For instance, Right C activates play calling, Left C calls for a pick, Top C executes a special move, and Bottom C backs into the post. On defense, the A button jumps/blocks, the B button steals, the Z button is turbo, and the R button controls the next player. Within the C group, Top C is a push and Bottom C is a defensive stance.

 

Like Acclaim's other sports simulations, NBA Jam 99 includes many features and options to customize your game. Some options to change are minutes in a quarter, fatigue, keeping the score close, specific rules (second violations, fouls, illegal offenses, etc.), and audio options.

 

On the features side, you can be the General Manager in NBA Jam 99. First off, you can use the actual NBA rosters, which are accurate as of July 1, 1998, or you can enter the Fantasy Draft to create custom rosters. Once your team is assembled, you have the authority (if you want) to make trades, to release players, to sign free agents, and to create your own players. Additionally, there's an off-season Rookie Draft if you want to play multiple seasons.

 

Fortunately, everything comes together well in NBA Jam 99. Comparatively, NBA Jam 99 is about on par with NBA Live 99 and Kobe Bryant in NBA Courtside. Whether you like NBA Jam 99 more than those other games depends on if you like Acclaim Sports' style. In other words, Acclaim's sports games are deep simulations with many options, but they also play slower and seem devoid of atmosphere.

 

As such, NBA Jam 99 definitely plays on the slower side, although a turbo button has been included. But the basketball action is good, as there are post moves, fast breaks, and intelligent computer players. Plenty of action happens away from the ball, and you can choose different strategies and can set up plays for more realism. It feels like a realistic basketball simulation without anything being too arcade-like. The turbo button doesn't hurt, either.

 

The Jam Mode, however, is a joke. Since it's five-on-five, not two-on-two, the game just doesn't feel like NBA Jam of old. There's absolutely no reason to get the game for the Jam Mode. In fact, you'll probably never play it. The Skills Mode is decent, though, and a Three Point shootout for up to eight players is a nice change of pace.

Graphics & Sound

As expected, NBA Jam 99 looks very nice. The game runs in the high-resolution 640 x 480 mode for extra sharp graphics. Character animation is smooth and lifelike the majority of the time. All the court graphics are accurate. Instant replays highlight spectacular plays from multiple angles. One problem with the graphics is terrible crowd graphics. Another problem sometimes is that the frame rate drops when a lot of activity is happening on the screen.

 

Tons of voice has been packed into NBA Jam 99. In fact, it's the best sports production from Acclaim in that regard. TNT's Kevin Harlan calls the play-by-play action enthusiastically, NBC's Bill Walton provides off-the-wall color commentary, and Dan Roberts of the Utah Jazz is your public address announcer. The trio provides maybe the best announcing in an N64 sports game so far. Yes, it can get repetitive, but it's much better than in other sports games from Acclaim.

 

Other aspects of the audio aren't so impressive. The crowd noise is somewhat generic and not that responsive. You can hear vendors selling things in the crowd sometimes, or the crowd will start chanting "Defense!" or a little organ tune might be played to fire up the crowd. The music is below average, too.

Conclusion

Despite some of the sound problems, NBA Jam 99 is surprisingly good. Like the competition from Nintendo, EA Sports, and Konami, Acclaim's offering does many things well, but it doesn't come together as an excellent basketball package. If excitement, atmosphere, and speed aren't so important to you, then you'll enjoy the deep, customizable simulation aspects of NBA Jam 99.

 

Graphics:

4.1

Sound:

3.3

Control:

3.7

Gameplay:

3.6

Lastability

3.5

OVERALL:

3.6

 

DOWN THE ROAD

Not available.

 

Review by: Scott McCall

First Reviewed: June 29, 2000

Appendix Added: N/A

 

 

 

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