NBA Jam, Midway games, 1993

NBA Jam changed the face of basketbal forever.

Until NBA Jam was released, basketball games were really only for the true enthusiast. After all, everything you could do on screen, you could do in real life as well. However, after 1993 basketball would never be the same.


NBA Jam Cab. Image by Jason Rosenberg, found on Flickr. - Dido Anna Reijntjes

In NBA Jam there are two two-player teams. Except dribbling and the advanced graphics, which were also used in Mortal Kombat, nothing about this game is realistic. You can run over your opponent and make monster-dunks from any imaginable position. After scoring three times in a row, your player is “on fire” and you are allowed to 'goaltend' (interfering with the ball when it is on its way to the basket). Back in 1993 there were two games that drew huge queues: Mortal Kombat and NBA Jam, both developed by Midway. The real NBA players were also quite enthusiastic about the game: young team Orlando Magic even took a machine with them when they had an away match.

Even though the internet at the time wasn't quite what it is now, there were still secret codes seeping through to the community, via for instance the Electronic Gaming Monthly magazine. These codes allowed you to play with Bill or Hillary Clinton, or with any member of the Beastie Boys. The “Big head” mode was also very popular, blowing players' heads up to three times their original size. The most amazing secret was the so-called 'tank game'. By pressing all buttons at once, and holding the joystick downwards at the same time before the actual game started, you wound up in a 3D game, in which basketball players were replaced by tanks. After scoring three goals or succeeding the time limit, you were rewarded 99 credits, which had a value of 198,- Guilders. However, well-trained security guards made sure you didn't actually go home with the coins...

NBA Jam, featuring contemporary league players, was released for Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and the Nintendo Wii in 2010.