NBA Jam HD
Classic BOOMSHAKALAKA, now in high def.
If you're a basketball fan, download NBA Jam HD for the iPad. Electronic Arts shoved most of the high-flying, rim-rattling Wii version onto the App Store without sacrificing much in terms of quality or content. Most importantly, the game resembles its console counterpart, complete with thunderous monster jams, rainbow three-pointers and sweet alley-oops. There's even classic Jam announcer Tim Kitzrow, who punctuates every play with familiar trademark phrases like "Boomshakalaka" and "He's on fire." Bottom line, you need this right now.
NBA Jam plays almost exactly like last year's game and previous iterations in the historic franchise. You select from one of 30 NBA teams and hit the court for some two-on-two arcade action where anything goes. Fouls don't exist, so feel free to push the opposing player to the hardwood, steal the ball and feed the open man, who proceeds to leap over 20 feet into the air for a Statue of Liberty jam. Hit three shots in a row, and you'll be on fire, where almost everything finds its way through the hoop. It's a fast-paced, intense and fun experience.
For the most part, the controls work surprisingly well. The default scheme features an on-screen analog stick and buttons that let you pass, steal and shoot. We also love the way EA combined them to perform different actions. To steal the ball, for example, you press Turbo and then slide your thumb to the Steal button, instead of removing it. Turbo dunks work the same way, as you press Turbo and then slide upwards to the Shoot button.
Bottom line, we'd much rather deal with this compared to the gesture based controls. It removes the buttons, but pulling off the moves takes a while to get used to.
You'll also notice (if you played the Wii edition) that the game moves a bit slower and the computer's just as cheap on higher difficulties; it steals almost every pass. Thankfully, neither of these issues cripple the experience. No, what'll probably turn you off is the $9.99 asking price, compared to (as of this review) $0.99 on the iPhone.
As for content, NBA Jam has plenty. You can dive into a quick Play Now game, or complete Jam Challenges that test your skills in specific contests, from defeating Larry Bird/Magic Johnson to scoring 100 points in a single game. In addition, there's Classic Campaign, where you must beat 36 teams to become champion.
Meanwhile, the game has a plethora of achievements (win a game against the CPU, dunk ten times in a single game) and unlockable players, including the likes of James Worthy, Patrick Ewing, John Starks, Karl Malone and celebs such as Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Sarah Palin and team mascots. There's also the Jam Store, which lets you purchase a bunch of players in different divisions; these cost $0.99 a piece. You may not want to spend more dough after forking over $4.99, but hey, a few more bucks go a long way.
The newest edition, though, is head-to-head multiplayer via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth; you'll also find this on the iPhone. Setup is easy. All you'll need are two iPads, each with a copy of the game. Then you can dunk on your friends.
All of this makes NBA Jam one of the iPad's greatest and most impressive sports games. Do yourself a favor and snag it immediately.
Requirements: Compatible with iPad. Requires iOS 3.2 or later
What's Hot: HD graphics, user-friendly controls, updated rosters, multiplayer, classic Jam catchphrases.
What's Not: Costs $9.99, cheap computer opponents, friendly A.I. makes some dumb decisions.