Even the most casual gamers remember the arcade smash hit NBA Jam, for it brought in over a billion dollars in quarters and singlehandedly changed the way we looked at arcade sports games. After several incarnations, MidwayAcclaim decided that the traditional 2D view should take a backseat in the follow up to NBA Jam Tournament Edition. NBA Jam Extreme featured a brand new 3D graphics engine. The other marquee addition to the formula was the Extreme button. The new feature was synomonous with super turbo if you will. But the big question was "would a 3D NBA Jam work as smoothly as its 2D predecessors" I guess you're going to have to keep reading to find out ...
The new polygon players were large enough but lacked the polished look of the 2D sprites featured in the previous incarnations, this is a real shame since the Saturn had three 32-bit RISC chips in its repertoire. Despite this downfall the animations on the Jams moved at a fairly steady frame rate. Speaking of the Jams some of them were outrageously spectacular and others lackluster. Specifically the Jams where the player repeatedly somersaulted his way up to the rafters were truly amazing to watch. Unfortunately, the two-handed monster dunk lacked the authority that we regularly see watching Shaq on T.V.
Extreme's graphics and animations were up to par for a first attempt at 3D and Marv Albert's articulate and exciting announcing only adds to the experience, but there were many drawbacks. The game did not give you enough turbo to pull of the extreme dunks on a consistent basis. That said it can be fixed with a cheat at the tonight's matchup screen by holding the turbo button a pushing up down up down.
I found that the opposition stole the ball way too much, making it difficult to get an open path to the hoop. Passing the ball was a major problem because all the defenders had hands of glue and perfect positioning like a Pro-Bowl Corner Back. And leaving the ball in your CPU teammate was like asking for a turnover as he would get as close as possible to the sticky handed defender(s). The CPU assistance can be turned off in the options mode but the pesky CPU always seems to stage a fourth quarter rally sparked by my players missing uncontested dunks.
Despite the NBA Jam Extreme's major shortcomings the overall entertainment experience is satisfying. It's definitely not nearly as good as the other Jam games yet it still held my interest. Power shoving the players is classic (especially at the Sculptured Software Team for their less than stellar product efforts) and multiplayer is extremely appealing when playing with three other friends, effectively making the passing situation more user friendly. If you have exhausted the other Jam games and are looking for something different then you might as well try Extreme. However, if you have never owned or played a Jam game start with T.E. or Hangtime.