NBA Jam does full justice to the look and feel of the classic franchise. No, it's not particularly impressive from a technical standpoint -- and no, it doesn't take us back to the days when pixels wowed. Instead, serves up a delightfully retro aesthetic that is all its own. I'm mainly talking about the faces, which look like carefully-cropped photos that change to suit the occasion. New Orleans Hornet David West may have a silly slack-jawed expression on his face for most of the game, but if you launch him into the air, he instantly puts on a comically aggressive game face. This treatment has been applied to the rest of the players as well, and it gels surprisingly well with the rest of the three-dimensional animation (which is quite good, by the way). Dunks look off-the-wall insane, nets and basketballs catch fire, and backboards shatter. Like I said, it's faithful.
NBA Jam's sound design is decidedly minimalist, at least from a musical standpoint. After hearing the annoying menu screen loop five hundred times, I can say that it's for the best. Additionally, this isn't the kind of game you're going to want to play for hours upon hours on end. It's more of a quick-fix kind of game, and the leisurely gametime music is funky and catchy enough to tolerate for a good long time. Luckily enough, it doesn't end up overstaying its welcome. The rest of the game sounds decent. Slam dunks sound like cannon fire, and though the players pretty much all have the same voice, they aren't bothersome. If Tim Kitzrow were absent from the proceedings, we'd have a major problem. Luckily, the veteran announcer returns with his best performance in the franchise. Lots of his corny one-liners repeat themselves several times, but they never get old. The new ones are also great; he even manages to crack an ED joke -- in an "E" rated game, no less!