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NBA Jam Wii review

A 16-bit classic gets a modern update... or does it?

NBA Jam Wii is pleasingly faithful to the 1993 SNES original. For the uninitiated, we're talking about a two-on-two basketball game where the rules are thrown out of the window. Ridiculous dunks, flaming balls, shattered backboard glass and ruthless shoves to the floor are the order of the day, and it's just as frantic and enjoyable on the Wii as it was in the early '90s.

However, things have moved on since the early 90s and for the single player, there's simply not enough here to keep you entertained. The standard career campaign mode - in which you have to beat each NBA team - will last a while and is enjoyable enough, if a little on the repetitive side.

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On Tour

Then the Remix Tour has you playing against each team in the NBA again, only this time you have to play each of them three times in one of a few different match types. There's a standard one-on-one 'first to 21' mode for up to four players, which we've seen in nearly every street basketball game ever made. Then there's Elimination, which is the same except the player with the lowest score is chucked out every two minutes. Remix 2-On-2 is just like the normal mode with power-ups which make your player faster, smaller, bigger, stronger, impossible to push and so on, but ultimately they don't actually make the action any more entertaining.

On a brighter note, Domination is a clever mode that does make for tense gameplay and Smash, in which you constantly have to dunk in order to try to break the backboard, is also a good laugh. The problem is that these modes are not really different enough to keep things interesting. Even the occasional boss battles, in which you take on a basketball legend like Magic Johnson or Larry Bird, don't happen regularly enough.

And on top of these grumbles, you are only able to play as one man in a team of two which means you have no choice but to put up with an AI partner who doesn't always do what you want them to. Having said that, both the standard campaign and the Remix Tour can be played co-operatively which makes things more enjoyable.

Whatever gripes we may have, the fact is that NBA Jam is actually one of the most entertaining multiplayer games available on the Wii. Which is exactly how it was meant to be played in the arcades and on the SNES, and it's also the way the game is meant to be played now.

Take away those other players, though, and you're left with a basic game which, while fun enough, is only likely to see you going back for odd dips rather than marathon slam-dunking sessions.

This is an edited version of a review that will appear in the December issue of Official Nintendo Magazine which will be on sale on 28 October. For more in depth analysis, get the mag when it goes on sale.

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  1. South London Thursday 21st Oct 2010 at 15:40

    lets not forget that this game is only Ł25, and possibly even cheaper in some places when it comes out.

    if i buy this game for Ł20 ill be very happy. it may lack a few things like online play or a decent single player campaign, but for half the price of a full price game its great enjoyment for money, and i think reviews should consider this or at least mention it.

  2. geengy Thursday 21st Oct 2010 at 17:58

    No wi-fi? I'll be annoyed!

  3. imbusydoctorwho Thursday 21st Oct 2010 at 21:44

    no wifi no deal a big dissapiontment

  4. commanderworf Tuesday 28th Dec 2010 at 19:56

    Ok. I agree. Not having WiFi included in this game is a crime but if you have 3 friends to play it with then its a blast from the past. Sure takes me back to my wasted youth. :D

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