NBA Jam for Xbox 360 and PS3 Includes a Dilemma

By  |  Wednesday, August 4, 2010 at 3:22 pm

When I tried NBA Jam at E3, it seemed like a faithful remake of Midway’s classic two-on-two arcade basketball game from the mid 1990s, but the Wii’s limited processing power makes online play unlikely when the game arrives in October.

The announcement of NBA Jam for Xbox 360 and PS3, with their elegant systems for multiplayer, seems like great news, except it comes with a couple of serious catches.

First, the only way you can get NBA Jam for Xbox 360 or PS3 is with a free download when you purchase NBA Elite 11, EA’s more traditional basketball game.  That’s not such a bad deal, because you’d get two games for the price of one, but with that offer comes another gotcha: The downloadable version of NBA Jam is not the full game. Only the Wii version has the “Remix Tour” mode and “boss battles” against basketball legends such as Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. These features reportedly add another 20 hours to the game.

EA has put gamers in an tough position, where they’re deciding not just what console they’d rather play on, but which features are more important. While I agree with EA Creative Director Trey Smith playing NBA Jam against someone in the same room is part of the classic experience, playing against someone across the country is part of modern gaming.

I’m guessing this bizarre feature split was the only way EA could get NBA Jam on all three consoles, after announcing it as a Wii exclusive in January. For Nintendo, it’s a guarantee that not all buyers will jump ship to the version with multiplayer, but for gamers, it’s a lose-lose.

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