Wii owners have been able to experience the retro glory that is NBA Jam for nearly a month now, but PS3 and Xbox 360 owners had been left wondering when they'll get a piece of the action (at least since the announced delay of NBA Elite '11). That question has now been answered as EA Sports announced today that NBA Jam will come to HD consoles November 17th.
While NBA Jam was originally going to be something of an added bonus for those that bought NBA Elite '11, it will now be a stand alone release available for the suggested retail price of $49.99, the same as the Wii version. In addition to everything included in the Wii version of the game, the PS3 and Xbox 360 version will feature improved graphics, boss battles, and online play.
The online play is what gamers have been waiting to hear about, as its absence in the Wii version keeps the game from reaching its full potential. From day one you'll be able to play the 'Classic Jam' mode online and see how you match up with the rest of the world on global leader boards. In addition, EA announced that in December it'll be releasing a free title update that will expand the online features to include local and online multiplayer in 'Remix Game' modes (remix games include: Elimination, 21, Backboard Smash, and Domination Free-for-All). The December title update will also introduce a new game mode referred to as "Online Progression." This mode will allow gamers to level up though a series of online opponents and secret challenges.
For those that couldn't wait and bought the Wii version there's definitely some envy. The inclusion of online play is great, but creating a new online mode that adds more than the simple 'head-to-head' match-ups and creates a leveling mechanic pushes the game's worth to another level. The graphics look to be leaps and bounds better than the Wii version. The 'photo-texture' heads look sharp and clean, unlike the Wii version where the photo-realistic texture looked somewhat muddy.
If I had to find a gripe about this announcement, it's the price point. The Wii version is fun, but I'm not sure it's worth a full $50. The whole time I played it, I thought it would be a great PSN/XBLA title or a higher priced down-loadable game, but down-loadable game nonetheless. I understand that the inclusion of a deep online mode and high definition graphics pushes the price up, but putting the price tag at $50 when they were originally going to give most of the game away with NBA Elite '11 is a bit disappointing.
Check out some screenshots for NBA Jam below. You can jump on the hardwood and experience all the "Boomshakalaka!" action you want when NBA Jam releases for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on November 17th.