"He says he coded the Bulls to always throw a brick at the last second"
July 8, 2017 8:58 AM   Subscribe

The Oral History of NBA Jam. Sports Illustrated gathers the original developers for a look back at NBA Jam, a 1993 arcade title from Midway Games.

Midway involved most of the video game development team from Williams Electronics, creators of classic titles like Defender, Stargate, Robotron:2084, and NARC.

The team was led by Mark Turmell, who had a long history of writing games back to his first title, Sneakers, for Sirius Software in 1980 at the age of 17.

NBA Jam was inspired by an earlier Bally/Midway title Arch Rivals, and with Bally/Midway recently acquired by Williams Electronics it seemed logical to produce another basketball title but with Williams' flavor of over-the-top action and graphics.

Licensing the NBA trademarks and players wasn't an easy sell. It took a lot of convincing (including this video presentation with early tests of the game) to convince the NBA that arcade games were not the domain of seedy arcades anymore, but family entertainment centers. The game was an instant hit with players, including NBA players. It also introduced phrases like "Boomshakalaka!" into the basketball vernacular for years afterward.
posted by JoeZydeco (9 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Great post. Missing “oldvideogameooh” tag.

posted by Fizz at 9:01 AM on July 8, 2017

I still remember the joy I felt the first time I made a slam while my ball was glowing on fire and the glass backboard shattered. Such a great feeling.
posted by Fizz at 9:04 AM on July 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

This is a classic game.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 9:10 AM on July 8, 2017

Forgot to add: if you're really into the 90s-era games from Williams/Bally/Midway, Josh Tsui (developer on NBA Jam, Mortal Kombat, and others) has kickstarted a documentary about the studio including interviews with almost everyone in the company back then. It's supposed to be completed sometime later this year.

Trailer for Insert Coin.
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:12 AM on July 8, 2017

He's On Fire! A History of Secret Characters From "NBA Jam"

(trigger warning for the Hillary Clinton entry)
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:20 AM on July 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

He's On Fire! A History of Secret Characters From "NBA Jam"
(trigger warning for the Hillary Clinton entry)

Ayup. The article was written in 2014, and is literal documentary evidence of what sweet summer children we all were just 3 years ago. FTA, on Sarah Palin's appearance in NBA Jam 2010:
Back in 2008, when we almost elected this woman Vice-President. Shit's scary. I think everyone, Republican or Democrat, can agree on what a disaster Sarah Palin was.
This was back when we could still half-believe that the Republican party weren't absolutely willing to compromise the entire country for tax cuts.

And feel free to sigh along with me at #1:
Who else did you think was going to take the top spot? Barack Obama - the only U.S. president who can hit 3 pointers, sing Al Green, and talk real about race in America. Now, if only he can talk some sense into Putin...
We didn't see the train until it hit us.
posted by Strange Interlude at 10:00 AM on July 8, 2017 [7 favorites]

Hip-hop influence as well, among many others I'm sure.
posted by yeahwhatever at 12:31 PM on July 8, 2017

I always played as Air Morris.

Though since I was young and cheap, I played the hidden tank game just as much.
posted by delfin at 1:03 PM on July 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Also missing hesonfire tag.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 8:34 PM on July 8, 2017

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