Still, I found the gameplay to be similar to the arcade game and fairly enjoyable overall. The best part is the tournament mode, where you dispatch a parade of increasingly difficult foes en route to facing the huge four-armed boss, Goro. There are three skill levels and six playable fighters: Johnny Cage, Liu Kang, Rayden, Scorpion, Sub Zero, and Sonya (Kano is missing). Like its Genesis counterpart, there is a "blood" code (2,1,2,Down,Up on title screen). © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
The graphics and sound are about the same quality as the previous edition, but the gameplay is faster and the controls are tighter. A ringing sound effect alerts you when your health is low, but it sounds a lot like a telephone. Thankfully, you don't need to enter a code to unleash the blood, although it's not as gratuitous as you might expect. Like the first Mortal Kombat, there are three skill levels, and you can't pause because the Start button is used to block. Overall, this one is a head-ripping, spine-ripping good time. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
As you'd expect for a portable translation, certain liberties were taken. Instead of a proper turbo button, the start button is used to give your player a burst of speed. It works but is definitely awkward. I wish the button configuration had the shoot button closer to the turbo. The action on the court is non-stop but not as tight as the console versions. The passes are slow and the CPU takes advantage of this to steal the ball.
I noticed if you harass the CPU enough in the backcourt he'll sometimes settle for an ill-advised long-range three. Sadly, a surprising number of those shots go in! There's no live commentary and I wish there was a way to shut that looping music off. Despite its deficiencies NBA Jam does a nice job of capturing the spirit of the arcade game. When you're down by a bucket with those final seconds ticking down, the excitement level is high. Even a subpar version of NBA Jam is a heck of a lot of fun. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
The players on the court look more detailed and their shoes glow while turbo is engaged. I like the cheerleaders on the sidelines, but the crowd looks more like a sea of blue grocery bags. WTF? The CPU opponent is a lot more aggressive - at least on the default level. It seems like whenever you steal the ball he immediately steals it back! On the flip side, making three-pointers is a lot easier - too easy in my opinion.
Tournament Edition also boasts a much-needed options menu. Among other things you can activate "tag" mode, select from five skill levels, and disable the worthless "CPU assistance". The buttons can be configured however you like, but frankly I struggled to find a comfortable set-up. An extra menu lets you add more razzle dazzle in the form of icons and power-ups.
And if you really want to see how fast a portable game can be, activate the frantic "juice mode". It's nuts! Considering the wealth of options it's a shame you can't disable the frenzied music, which sounds like a xylophone experiencing turbulence. All things considered, NBA Jam Tournament Edition is undeniably fun and the customization options really boost the replay value. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
Passing requires precise timing because throws tend to float in the air. On defense, you should be able to switch to the closest defender at any time, but most of the time this doesn't seem to work. The play calling screens are attractive and easy to navigate, and even contain trick plays like reverses, shovel-passes, and half-back options (yes!). All the NFL teams are available (circa 1994), and you can play a password-saved season. Unfortunately, the CPU opponent is weak, even on the "pro" level. That's a serious problem considering there's no link capability.
Other issues include players that disappear from the waist down, and sometimes disappear completely! The ball moves at an angle instead of an arc, which indicates lazy programming. After an incomplete pass, you have to wait for the rolling ball to come to a complete stop before you can continue - for no good reason at all. The option to use X's and O's instead of animated players is ridiculous. NFL Quarterback Club is a playable game, but there's got to be better football action available for the Game Gear. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Your player is highlighted with a white box around his number. As you can imagine, that does not stand out very well against the ice! The passing controls are erratic. Your teammates tend to stand around like idiots, and they enter the attack zone way too late to execute one-timers. What are they doing?! Shots on the goal are weak, and when the puck does find its way into the net, you'll have absolutely no idea how it happened (sorry, there's no replay).
You can never get any sort of angle on the goalie, who might as well be a brick wall. The excessive difficulty just adds insult to injury. On defense, the controls for switching to the closest man are deplorable! NHL All-Star Hockey is chock full of glitches including players that continue to advance the puck up the ice even as they are lying flat on their backs! I found it difficult to believe that Sega could produce such a bad hockey game, until somebody reminded me about NHL All-Star Hockey for the Sega Saturn. Ouch! © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
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Screen shots courtesy of Video Game Museum, Emula Zone, GameFAQs, Moby Games, Games Database