Kareem with the sky hook!
As this assignment was handed to me, I thought to myself, A+. It stars Magic and Kareem , who, for a Lakers fan, are the greatest one-two punch in NBA history. Watching the Lakers dominate the court throughout the 80's was one of my favorite pastimes. To see these two superstars commemorated for their greatness with their own video game, years after their prime, was a tribute to the Crystal Dynamics team. I only wish they could have been represented in a more suitable fashion.
Crystal Dynamics surprised me with a very poor showing with Slam N Jam '96 featuring Magic and Kareem, especially since I had been so impressed by their other Saturn games. I had expected a high flying, prime time basketball game, but was disappointed with the primitive state in which this game has hit the shelves. For a system with such potential and a software company with so much to offer, this sports fan was not impressed.
The game does not flow very well. The perspective that the user sees while playing is confusing in both depth and direction. Player position in relation to one and other is also very misleading. The only reliable way to score seems to be to drive the lane and dunk the ball. Slam N Jamrelies on the fast break transition game for most of its action, which is okay, but makes for a less realistic game. Possibly the greatest weakness lies in the running commentary by sportscaster Van Earl Wright , who, at times, appeared to be talking about a different game than the one that I was playing. He is also quoted with such inane sayings as " the ferocity of the Jam-ocity." Interesting choice of words.
The game is not all bad. The ability to block dunk shots makes the defensive portion of the game a skill that develops the more you play, and can often mean the deciding factor between the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Magic and Kareem both use many of the signature moves that made them great and in turn makes the game truly theirs, but with the absence of any other NBA stars there is little reason to be any other team than Magic's all-stars.
In conclusion, Crystal Dynamic's Slam N Jam '96 leaves much to be desired. I think that the greatest disappointment is again the potential for such a game. Most sports gamers would agree, and should pass up on purchasing this one. Crystal Dynamics should return to the drawing board and take a few lessons from the people over at Electronic Arts when designing any other new sports games. This game might be the reason that Magic retired for a third time.