Boom Shakalaka!

NBA Jam is an updated and faithful recreation of probably the most popular standup arcade basketball game of all time.

NBA Jam is an updated and faithful recreation of probably the most popular standup arcade basketball game of all time. For those who never went through several dollars in quarters at the local arcade playing this fun classic many years ago, NBA Jam is not your standard five-on-five simulation you see on consoles. This game is all about two-vs.-two high-flying dunk basketball, where just about every play is worthy of a highlight reel.

The control system for NBA Jam on offense includes a directional pad on the lower left part of the screen, and pass, shoot, and speed boost buttons on the lower right. On defense you have the D-pad, but your options are steal, jump (for blocks), and speed boost buttons.

Each team of the full 30-team NBA lineup uses the current biggest stars on each team as your default starters. But the game gives you a couple of options for other players on the team should you decide to go with a different strategy. You also decide which player you control on your chosen team, but be aware that you will control that player the entire game--there is no player switching in NBA Jam as you have on consoles.

The gameplay in NBA Jam is excellent--just like the arcade classic. You get a couple of game mode options including a standard exhibition game so you can start playing immediately in a single game, and a longer classic campaign mode in which you play games against all 30 teams for the championship. NBA Jam also has a number of achievements you can earn--all of which are listed in the Challenges section.

Probably best of all for those of us who played the original arcade game, NBA Jam offers unlockable classic players for each team. Some expansion teams will only let you play as the mascot, but most teams have classic players many NBA fans will remember from the original arcade game. Once it's unlocked you can play past greats Magic Johnson and James Worthy from the Los Angeles Lakers, Dominique Wilkins and Kenny Smith from the Hawks, and Tim Hardaway and Chris Mullin from the Golden State Warriors, as examples. Also, to add to the nostalgia, EA has used the same announcer from the original game who still says "Boom Shakalaka!" among other things when you make a particularly nasty dunk.

Our only problem with this otherwise solid iOS game is that it doesn't include a multiplayer mode, because part of the fun in the classic arcade game was smack-talking as you dunked on your friends. We hope later releases will add online multiplayer games, but even just the ability to play locally would be a huge improvement because this game needs to be played head-to-head.

Overall, even if you just play this single-player game with the current rosters, NBA Jam has enough excitement and challenge with four skill settings to keep you coming back for more. Anyone who played the original arcade game, or anyone with even a passing interest in basketball or sports games, will love this game.

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