NBA Jam by Reyan Ali
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I love the various titles in the Boss Fight Books series; all the moreso when they involve games that meant a lot to me. NBA Jam (which I had filed in my head as NBA Jams), is one of those games that my brothers and I sunk countless hours into. We were always more into arcade or silly sports games like Ken Griffy Jr. for the SNES or Midway’s NHL game for the N64 than sports sims. NBA was right in that perfect spot where it wasn’t too focused on b-ball and having lots of players on the screen. Instead it was fast-paced and easy and fun and silly – great for pre-teen to teen Eric and brothers.
This book gives a short history of Bally and Midway (which eventually merged) before jumping into the history of NBA Jam. There’s a lot I never knew because I never played it in the arcades, only in the home ports. Even though I was the right age for it, I didn’t really spend a lot of time at arcades. Most of my arcade time was either at Chuck E Cheese, this one pizza place that had Pac Man and Space Invaders, and bowling alleys when we got bored of bowling but the adults were still at it.
Reyan Ali was able to get lots of interviews and notes to really transport me back to 1992 and all the ups and downs involved in the production of the cabinet. Ali also does a good job explaining things so that anyone who was either too young or not around to experience NBA Jam can understand the video game and arcade landscape in the 90s.
This is one of the better Boss Fight Books (they’ve almost all been great, but this is in the top tier) and I recommend it to anyone who’s into game, but especially anyone with fond memories of NBA Jam.
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