New NBA Jam evokes memorable nostalgia – EA does it right

So The Great One has been covering NBA Jam now for the last few months (here and here), and it’s clear that he’s a fan. I haven’t heard him talk about any other game as much.

I been mostly on the sideline about the game, partly because I been so preoccupied with REAL next gen games (Halo, Red Dead Redemption, Crysis 2), as opposed to games that throw me back to yesterdecade. But after a weekend of playing the game, I gotta admit, I’m hooked again. NBA Jam brings up so many great memories of my college years that the nostalgia was really the best thing going for it.

I remember getting this game for my SNES (hard choice, because I was a big time Genesis fan, but the SNES version just looked better) after sinking way too many quarters into the arcade at the student center at the University of Virginia. They only had a few arcade units back then, and NBA Jam was one the one that pulled in the most gamers once the Street Fighter vs Mortal Kombat trend was dying down.

My memory of breaking open the game revolves around a Friday game nite, where buddies of mine came over to play a tournament. We each threw in $5 to play in the bracket. NBA Jam is simply way too much fun in 2 on 2 mode, and while we all cursed the ridiculous rubberbanding stats that always had the losing team catching fire to make a mindblowing comeback, I had to admit, the feature really did make things that much more exciting. And I won over $50, which was spent that night on greasy pizza.

I remember going to class late (often) because I had to get in one more game. I remember having to buy 2 new controllers, because of way too much beer spilling on my old ones rendering them sticky and unusable. I remember everyone throwing out random NBA Jam catchphrases while playing a pick up game of B-Ball. “He’s on Fire!” Boom-Shaka-Laka!” I remember trying to unlock all the hidden characters. I remember cursing how Michael Jordan wasn’t in the game. I still curse at how he isn’t in the game. I guess somethings never change.

So while this post is really about the new NBA Jam game, it’s clear that my enjoyment of the game stems from great memories I had before 16 years ago. And for the game to evoke those memories again, while introducing so many new enhancements and features that even all new NBA Jam ballers can appreciate is something special. Gotta give credit to EA for bring back a dead franchise, and doing it right.

So EA, you feeling bold enough now to tackle bringing back Wing Commander and Ultima?