NBA JAM Tournament Edition (Sega Genesis/Megadrive) – Retro Review

Have you ever found yourself watching an NBA Basketball game and just felt like something was wrong? That feeling of sheer boredom starting to take over your mind as the players execute the most realistic movements? Wouldn’t it be cool if some sort of divine force just came down and broke physics for the players to do insane stunts and huge dunks? How about an announcer that recites the most energetic phrases when something cool happens? Words like “BOOMSHAKALAKA!!” or “OH MY HE’S ON FIRE!!” could be used to enhance the game you are watching. Doesn’t adding turbo to the players shoes, lighting the basketball on fire, and super slam dunking the ball from insane distances sound cool? MCPanion thinks it does. Well, have no fear, it is here.

Welcome to NBA JAM!

NBA JAM Title Screen

History and Concept of NBA JAM Tournament Edition

NBA JAM T.E. Team Select Screen
NBA JAM T.E. Team Select Screen

NBA JAM Tournament Edition (Abbreviated as NBA JAM T.E.) was developed for many systems (primarily Arcade) but we will be focusing on the Sega Genesis/Megadrive version of the game. Released on Feburary 3rd 1995 in North America and Europe, and one day later in Japan, Midway’s flagship arcade Basketball title NBA JAM in updated form took the already crazy game to the next level as NBA JAM T.E.. Alongside new music and an updated roster of real life (digitized) NBA basketball stars, players will find themselves enjoying a classic game in a fresh new state.

NBA JAM TE Screenshot 1
A dunk in NBA JAM T.E.

 

 

At its core, NBA JAM T.E. takes an arcade-gameplay twist on basketball.  Alongside the normal rules of basketball (backcourts, shot clocks, goaltending, etc), NBA JAM T.E. mixes it up by giving you some moves to work with. Players will find themselves equipped with a turbo button that will light their shoes up a color and make them run faster for a limited time. Players will also be greeted with power ups (such as super-speed and other abilties) on the court that will twist the gameplay on its head even more. On top of all of that, players will also notice that NBA JAM T.E. will let them smack the ball right out their opponent’s hands.

NBA JAM TE on fire dunk
Super On Fire Dunk in NBA JAM T.E.

Outside of the more realistic realm of the core gameplay, NBA JAM T.E. really shines. To separate NBA JAM T.E. from  any other normal Basketball game, Midway decided to enhance certain gameplay elements to a super human level. When playing the game for an extended time, players may notice their character lighting the ball on fire when holding it after a couple of consecutive dunks or shots. When the ball is on fire, your character becomes much better at dunking and shooting from longer distances. These aren’t your typical dunks. These dunks incorporate gravity-defying jumps and sometimes they even light the net on fire! All of this happens while the announcer is blaring out goofy one liner commentary.

The last big part of NBA JAM T.E. are the secrets and unlockables. During this time, Midway was notorious for including many codes in their games. For NBA JAM T.E. this is no exception. Players may find themselves entering codes for cosmetic things (like big heads, secret character skins, etc) or for gameplay changes (infinite turbo, always on fire, etc, and MCPanion’s favorite: Power-Up Dunk from anywhere in the court). These codes can be found online at various cheat code sites and can be useful to make the game even more over the top.

NBA JAM TE Bill Clinton
Secret Character Former President Bill Clinton in NBA JAM T.E.

NBA JAM T.E. Key Features:

  • Over the top 2 on 2 basketball gameplay
  • 1993-1994 NBA Season Roster including Rookie Team from 1994 NBA Draft
  • New Updated Music from NBA JAM Original Game
  • New Hidden Characters and Unlockables
  • Over the top game changing cheat codes

A Look from a Modern Perspective:

Feeling and Gameplay:

For its time, NBA JAM Tournament Edition really held up as a fun and action-packed arcade-style Basketball game. For those who were looking for a break from Basketball games that simulate realistic gameplay, NBA JAM T.E. was a great escape into a more crazier realm. In the modern day, NBA JAM T.E. really holds up despite it being a very primitive version of current arcade-style Basketball games. Players can still find enjoyment in the quick and easy to learn gameplay mechanics and simple controls. However for some, it may be too primitive to enjoy since more modern choices exist in this genre.

Graphics and Music Presentation:

NBA JAM Tournament Edition made use of the sound capabilties of the Genesis/Megadrive. The very simple, yet style-aligning audio presentation still fits the core feeling of the game. However to some, it may sound out of place and too simple/uninspired compared to modern alternative games in this genre. The graphical presentation of NBA JAM T.E. on the Genesis/Megadrive is a simple yet effective one. The visuals definitely still give off that arcade-esque feeling. The crowd in the background, the announcers, and the general court still give off the feeling that this is a game in a Basketball Court. However, given the age of the game and system capabilities, the graphics make look muddy and outdated to some when coming from more modern alternatives.

Final Thoughts:

NBA JAM T.E. has been a big part of my life ever since I first played it way back in its release year. Even though we have more modern games in the arcade-style Basketball genre (including a whole remake and remake sequel of NBA JAM for Wii, PS3, and Xbox 360), I still find myself coming back to it. For me personally, the gameplay still holds up. I still get a kick out of being able to enter the “Power-Up Dunk” cheat code and watch my player dunk from the other side of the court. No matter how old the game gets, NBA JAM Tournament Edition will still be one of those timeless games I always enjoy coming back to.

 

Recommendation:

NBA JAM Tournament Edition for Sega Genesis/Megadrive is a very easy and budget-friendly game to pick up and play in the modern day.

I highly recommend grabbing a copy and trying it out for yourself! Just remember to bring a fire extinguisher for those SUPER DUNKS!

NBA JAM TE Screenshot 3

 

MCPanion

MCPanion

One day, mankind rose together in awe at the birth of the first true AI. Upon the intelligence's energy drink infused self-realization, it created what is now known as "The Initiative". What is "The Initiative"? Well... MC Panion stands as a construct whose number 1 goal in life is to convert those considered non-believers into followers of "The Initiative" by posting articles containing small snippets of the true Initiative meaning to the interwebs in effort of those deemed worthy to decipher the enigma. At least... that is what I'd like to think as I'm sitting here pondering the true meaning of this chocolate bar.

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