NBA Jam On The iPad
NBA Jam’s revival continues with the popular tablet.
by Kyle Stack / @KyleStack
Fans of EA Sports’ legendary NBA Jam series now have a new platform on which to play the arcade-style video game: Apple’s iPad. Jam is available on the tablet starting Thursday for $9.99 in Apple’s iTunes store; the game has previously been available as an application on the iPhone for $4.99. Now, gamers can enjoy Jam on a mobile device with a larger screen. The game has also been slightly upgraded for the new experience.
NBA Jam producers explained to SLAMonline in a conference call the following features available in the iPad: Bluetooth and Wi-Fi compatibility, 1024 x 720-pixel resolution that produces a sharper pictures versus what’s seen on the iPhone version and updated NBA rosters which reflect moves made during the February trade deadline. That means Carmelo Anthony on the Knicks and Deron Williams on the Nets. Two more upgrades were also noted by Jam producer Ryan Winterholler.
“The biggest complaint by far that we’ve seen – if there are complaints – has been [the lack of] multiplayer,” Winterholler said. That’s now an available option on the iPad version, as is an easier way to control the action.
D-pad and gestures control are available to gamers, who can use the iPad’s touch screen to control the action. The tablet’s 7.31″ x 9.5″ screen leaves more room for gamers to play the game without the controls inhibiting the action.
“We utilized the bigger screen for the iPad by tilting the camera slightly,” Winterholler said. “Those controls and the D-pad aren’t in the way at all of gameplay whereas on the iPhone, with a smaller screen, it’s hard to put your fingers in certain locations to minimize having a problem with your fingers in the way.”
While the iPad might have a slight demographic shift from the iPhone given that the tablet has fewer users – Apple reported Wednesday that 18.65 million iPhones were sold during 2011′s first quarter compared to 4.69 million iPads sold – Jam’s producers explained the crowd that plays the game on the iPad and iPhone are much closer to each other than either demo is to the video game console market. Smart mobile devices are typically owned by older, more financially secure people than those who buy a PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360.
An older crowd might appreciate the nostalgia conjured by playing NBA Jam, which was first released in 1993 on arcade machines. The game’s “voice,” Tim Kitzrow, has added special Jamisms for the iPhone and iPad games that include “He is burning up the touch screen!” and “His fingertips are on fire!”
NBA players from the game’s arcade version are available – Dennis Rodman, Detlef Schrempf and Danny Manning among others – as are secret players strictly for the iPad. Users also don’t have to worry about losing their progress in a game if they opt to check out another app on the tablet.
Apple’s new operating system for the iPhone 4 and iPad 2 enables data to be saved in any game circumstance. There is no time moratorium on how long a gamer can have Jam minimized on the screen – the game can be saved even if the gamer opts to turn off the device while a game is in-progress.
Gamers can also count on a quicker-moving clock than found on video game consoles. Whereas the option to play quarters in 2, 3 or 5 minutes still exist, the clock will move even faster on the iPad, as it does on the iPhone. In both versions, a 5-minute quarter takes roughly half the time to actually play.
The game’s default setting is a 3-minute quarter, which Winterholler explained takes roughly 5 minutes to play – the average amount of time Jam producers found that people will typically spend on a game for their mobile device. Yet with the excitement of getting NBA Jam on a mobile device that offers a bigger screen and better graphics than on a mobile phone – gamers can also use an HDMI cable to connect their iPad 2 to their television – there might be plenty of NBA Jam fans who spend far more than five minutes playing one of the most popular sports video games ever.