SNES Party Games

There's nothing like gaming with family and friends
There’s nothing like gaming with family and friends

The SNES is my favorite system of all time, and one of the many reasons why I love it so much is because of all the great multiplayer games. While there are a ton of amazing 2-player SNES games, the focus here is specifically on Super Nintendo titles that allow 4 (or more) players to duke it out (or in some cases, work together). There’s something about being in a room with a group of friends playing the same game together. There’s an innocence and magic to it that will never fade away.

Tangled cords and bruised egos... ahhh
Tangled cords and bruised egos… ahhh

I have so many fond memories of the many party sessions I’ve had over the years with the SNES. It’s fitting that I’m writing this article so close to Christmas as the holiday season tends to bring people together. It’s the perfect excuse to bust out the Super Nintendo and play some old (or newfound) favorites with your loved ones.



First, make sure you have one of these multitap adapters. There are lots of models but these are just a few examples.


You’ll need one if you wish to play any of the following games with 3 or more friends.

This is the one I use
The one I use personally



There are many great 2-player SNES games out there, from Super Mario Kart to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time. The list goes on and on. That’s a story article for another day. For now the focus is squarely on games that allow 4 or more to play. There’s always room however to quickly acknowledge those that didn’t quite make the cut but are noteworthy nonetheless. The following 3 games deserve a shout out since they each support up to 3 players. Not quite 4, last I checked anyhow, but close. Hence, my honorable mentions are as follows…



Funky subtitle aside, Crystal Beans is a simple and enjoyable overhead action RPG with elements similar to Gauntlet. It has 8 characters (of varying classes) to select from and best of all, it supports up to 3 players. It only came out in Japan but there’s an English translation patch available for those interested. Not the best game but it can easily eat up a weekend or two especially if you have a few buds willing to join in.



There’s a reason why Secret of Mana is so revered within retro gaming circles. Even 25 years later, it resonates with an entire generation that grew up glued to the screen vanquishing the latest creatures and critters. Doing it with 2 friends by your side, at a time where a 3-player mode in an action RPG was unheard of, made the experience even more irresistibly awesome.



Seiken Densetsu 3, AKA Secret of Mana 2, came out exclusively in Japan. Thankfully, an English fan translation has allowed gamers worldwide to experience this phenomenal action RPG in all its glory. On top of that, a 3rd player option was graciously added in as well.



In this article (that I’ve wanted to write for over a decade now), I’ll share some of my favorite SNES party games. I’ll also list some I’m not too crazy about knowing that everyone’s mileage will vary. Some games listed are super well known while others are a lot more obscure. Not every 4+ player game on the SNES has been cited; the list is far too long so I’ve chosen only those that I wish to highlight. With that said, let’s dive in!



I remember seeing Bakuto! Dochers in the pages of EGM in 1994 and being excited. A Bomberman clone but with cute animals? Sold! It does some unique things: 3 hits to die, 20 battle zones (although many look samey) and cannon fodder enemies litter the field even in the 4-player battle mode. But sadly, it’s just not fun. It’s hard to botch the Bomberman formula but somehow Bakuto! BOTCHERS managed to do so :(



A homeless man’s NBA Jam, Barkley Shut Up and Jam isn’t very good but it can be a guilty pleasure. If you and your buds have a burning desire to use Charles Barkley and a bunch of fictional playground legends, this could be your jam. Pun partially intended.



Bomberman meets Mario Kart… kinda. The closest thing to that on the SNES, anyhow. Battle Cross is a 6-player single screen racer, although only 5 humans can play (kind of a shame they didn’t take advantage of that sixth slot). There’s a lot to like here. Whether it’s the cartoonish graphics, the insane customization, or the pure satisfaction of placing a land mine underneath an overpass to blow up unsuspecting foes, Battle Cross is a hit at retro gaming parties.



The great Ric Flair once said, “To B-Daman, you gotta Beat-Daman! WOO!!” Many folks know about the great Super Bomberman titles on the SNES, but not many know about the B-Daman series which came out only in Japan. It deviates from the classic formula but still has its own 4-player battle mode. In the first B-Daman game, players can’t die. Instead, the goal is to score as many hits as possible within the time limit. It’s not nearly as fun as the classic Bomberman titles but that’s a given thanks to the restrictions at play here, such as being conformed to your side of the wall and having limited movement.


The sequel, Bakukyu Rennpatsu!! Super B-Daman, is an improved effort but still feels like a lightweight novelty. Players are no longer restricted to rails and can freely move about. The goal is to push all the other people off the field and be the last (bomber)man standing. It’s nice to see them try something different but you’re better off sticking to the classic Bomberman games.



Of all the games on this list, BS Out of Bounds Golf is perhaps the most fun and cutthroat party game of them all. It’s a blast and has to be experienced with 4 players. The amount of sabotaging and trash talking that naturally occurs is a thing of beauty. And because players take turns, there is ample opportunity to scout and plot out your plan of attack. It’s one of those special games that anyone can pick up and play, and it will appeal even to non-gamers. A magical unicorn, indeed.



Not the best soccer game on this list, but a very competent and enjoyable one. Most noteworthy of all, Capcom’s Soccer Shootout has an indoor mode where the arena is shrunken down and the ball bounces off the wall for continuous play. Intense mode, especially with 4 players!



A strange 4-player game where you throw balls at the opposition in various arenas. Simple but loads of fun. Quirky games like this with oddball Japanese humor are always a guilty pleasure. Chibi Maruko Chan: Mezase Minami no Island is rather obscure and (sadly) rarely talked about. Check it out if you’re looking for something a little different for your next retro gaming party.



Speaking of not getting enough love, Coron Land is another obscure Super Famicom oddity that rarely ever gets mentioned. Blow and throw bubbles. It’s quirky and charming in its own unique way.



If you’re like me and have fond memories of playing pickup basketball from way back in the day, then Dream Basketball: Dunk & Hoop is sure to take you right back to your blacktop days. There’s a clunky 5-on-5 full court mode but the 3-on-3 street ball mode, being half court and having less sprites onscreen, is where Dream Basketball shines brightest. A rare gem for those not opposed to playing arcade-like sports games that are a quarter of a century old.



This is the only fighting game on the SNES that allows 4-players to play with a tag out feature. Pretty neat! Besides, who doesn’t want to play as Karnov?



Part Zelda and part Arkanoid, Fire Striker contains a 2-on-2 mode where teams of two battle for supremacy. The physics are a little off but it’s still a blast.

AJ Styles recently snagged a copy on Up Up Down Down
AJ Styles recently sang its praises on Up Up Down Down
Shout out to Xavier Woods, AKA Austin Creed! I met him last week and he was a super cool guy. And speaking of professional wrestling...
Shout out to Xavier Woods, AKA Austin Creed!
I met him last week and he was super cool.
And speaking of professional wrestling…



With over 115 wrestlers ready to be used and 800 different moves at your disposal, Burning Pro Wrestling is quite the package. It features real athletes from many different styles such as Puroresu, Lucha Libre and K-1 just to name a few. Play as or beat up the likes of Bret Hart, Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Ric Flair, Sting, The Undertaker and many more. The Battle Royal features up to 18 wrestlers and a grand total of 6 wrestlers can litter the ring. Fun stuff!



As if you can’t tell from the screenshot above, Go! Go! Dodge League is loosely based on dodgeball and doesn’t follow the conventional rules of the sport. It’s not the best game around but it has enough wacky Japanese charm to put a smile on your face.



Originally set for a US release as Super Soccer Champ 2, it was eventually scrapped. Released only in Japan as Hat Trick Hero 2, this is a fast scrolling arcade brand of soccer that features super power kicks. Worth a look if you love retro 4-player soccer games.



The best soccer game on the SNES, hands (feet?) down, is made even better when experienced in glorious 4-player mode.



Even more outlandish than NBA Jam and arguably just as fun, Looney Tunes B-Ball is a sheer blast. Name another zany basketball game where you can drop a 16 ton weight on someone’s head or summon lightning to zap suckers into smithereens… you can’t!



Madden Football isn’t the first game I think of when it comes to multiplayer affairs. But the ’94-’98 editions all allow up to 5 players. If you’re craving pigskin of the 16-bit variety, this might do the trick.



Race your favorite miniature toy cars around 28 different tracks. These include a pool table, the living room floor and even your neighbor’s flower garden. The sequel, Micro Machines 2: Turbo Tournament, featured even more vehicles and tracks and was released only in Europe.



NBA Give ‘N Go lacks blazing speed but makes up for it with an impeccable arcade-like feel. The presentation is a slam dunk and the wacky announcer will make you feel like you’re back at the arcades. Give ‘N Go is based after all on Run and Gun, Konami’s arcade smash hit.



If you can look past its terrible aesthetics, NBA Hang Time gets the job done in 4-player mode.



BOOM SHAKALAKA! NBA Jam and more specifically, NBA Jam: Tournament Edition, rules the roost when its comes to 4-player basketball games on the SNES. Best of all, NBA Jam TE is just as fun to play today as it was 25 years ago.



The NBA Live franchise blends simulation and arcade-like play extremely well. The ’95-’98 editions allow up to 5 players, with ’97 and ’98 featuring 2-on-2 and 3-on-3 modes for more intimate contests.



NHL ’94 is the best of the lot and has 5-player capability. Oddly, only 2 players can play NHL ’95-’97. NHL ’98 went back to 5 players but stick with the original; it’s pure hockey bliss that can’t be beat.



The only 8-player game (!) on this list, N-Warp Daisakusen is certainly a curiosity. Developed in 2008 as a homebrew title, this simplistic melee brawler sets out to see who will be the last man standing.



A Bomberman clone with a delightful twist. Rather than bombs, players set down capsules. Shurikens shoot out in all 4 directions. Get hit and you’re temporarily frozen. You lose only if someone hits you with their ball and chain while being suspended in animation. With a lens geared toward stealth and capitalizing on mistakes, Otoboke Ninja Colosseum makes for a fantastic 4-player romp.



The only beat ‘em up on this list! But sadly, 4 players can only duke it out in a special self-contained mode. Give Peace Keepers some credit but it’s a limited novelty at best. It’s a shame none of the SNES beat ‘em ups allow for 4-player cooperative play but that’s understandable given the hardware limitations.



Up to 5 people can work together to solve puzzles of various kinds. Pieces is perfect for younger and less experienced players such as little nieces and nephews.



An adorable Bomberman clone where you push blocks to subdue your opponents. One of my readers recently dubbed this game “Gnome Squish” which fits it perfectly! An absolute blast in 4-player mode.



My friends and I spent so many Saturday nights back in the summer of 1994 playing this. Frenetic, chaotic and always entertaining, Saturday Night Slam Masters was born to be a 4-player slobber knocker.



Not as good or fun as Saturday Night Slam Masters but not a bad alternative. The visuals are on point and it’s always fun to kick some ass with either Great Sasuke or Jushin Thunder Liger!



Bomberman but with cars. It’s super blatant but also super fun. A few slight tweaks here and there, like 2 hits to die, help to make it not a complete carbon copy. Sorry.



Sporting News Baseball holds the distinct honor of being the only North American SNES baseball game to support 4 players. You and a friend take turns batting on offense and on defense one pitches while the other plays defense. And hey, any excuse to play ball on the Field of Dreams cornfield sounds good to me!



Street Racer is no Mario Kart 2 but it’s an admirable effort. 24 tracks, 8 drivers and plenty of zany 4-player modes!



Smash and bash your way to victory in Sunsoft’s melee brawler. Sugoi Hebereke is a bit like Super Smash Bros. in some ways and is worth checking out, especially if you have retro gaming buddies to play it with.



Super Bomberman is the classic and quintessential party game on the SNES. All you needed back in 1993 was a copy of this game, a multitap, 4 controllers and 3 friends. My friends and I spent countless Saturday nights back in ’93 blowing each other up and loving every second of it.


Super Bomberman 2 included a tag team mode. I prefer the original but you can’t go wrong with this one.


Super Bomberman 3 came out only in Europe and Japan. It’s most notable for introducing mad bombers, animal friends (granting you an extra life and special abilities) and raising the player count from 4 to 5.


Super Bomberman 4 was released only in Japan. Like pizza, you really can’t go wrong with any of the 16-bit Bomberman games.


Super Bomberman 5 is my favorite of the 16-bit Bomberman games that didn’t come out in North America. And overall, I’d rank it second only to the classic original.



Did you know there was a Bomberman puzzle game on the Super Famicom? And of course, it naturally features a 4-player mode. As the cool kids might say, this game is lit yo. Geddit? Sorry.



I love this game so much that I ranked it #2 on my top 50 favorite obscure Super Famicom games list. Super Family Tennis is full of charm and never fails to leave me feeling satisfied. 4-player doubles is where it’s at!



Developed by HUMAN (creators of the beloved Fire Pro series), Super Final Match Tennis nails down the presentation but something about the gameplay is slightly off. There’s still some merit here but you’re probably better off playing Super Family Tennis instead. Still, it’s nice to have options.



Speaking of which, Super Fire Pro Wrestling X Premium is the final and best Fire Pro entry on the Super Nintendo. For the past 20+ years, the fabled Fire Pro franchise has been a staple among wrestling video game fans. While this edition may be primitive by comparison, it was revolutionary back in 1996 and remains just as enjoyable today.



There’s nothing like an intense 4-player Puyo Puyo match. This has the potential to ruin relationships, so proceed with caution.



On the surface it looks like yet another Bomberman clone. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find an interesting alternative. Flip tiles and jump on opponents to stun them, and then attack them with your trusty spiky ball. Super Tekkyu Fight! is an obscure hidden gem worthy of a spot in your retro gaming party collection.



4-player Tetris, bitches. ‘Nuff said!



Due to the hodgepodge of mini games, some have likened this as a precursor to Mario Party. You’ll like this if that’s your thing.



Many folks are familiar with Top Gear as it was one of the earlier SNES hits back in the day. Top Gear 3000 on the other hand is fairly obscure, receiving a quiet release with very little fanfare in early 1995. It’s most notable for its quirky 4-player split screen.



Released only in Europe, Worms is classic turn-based artillery multiplayer tactical warfare at its finest. Randomly generated deformable landscapes only add to the fun and strategy of it all. Sure, this first entry in the longstanding franchise may seem a bit outdated to some, but it’s where it all started. I can appreciate that. Besides, who can say no to blowing up worms via TNT?



Earlier this year Monday Night Raw celebrated 25 years. I remember those early Raw episodes well; every Monday night was must-see TV. But I digress. An improvement over WWF Royal Rumble, WWF Raw is the best WWF game on the SNES. But that’s only because we never got WWF WrestleFest!



The Zen Nippon series gets forgotten about at times, and in my book is right up there with the fabled Fire Pro franchise as far as great wrestling games go. This is the last and best of the Zen Nippon series on the SNES. The Fatal 4-Way match is an absolute riot. Lots of fun await if you and your buddies enjoy classic retro wrestling games.



Nothing will ever replace the sheer joy of playing a game huddled around your buddies in the same room. Not to mention all the silly trash talking and good-natured taunting that comes with the territory. It’s all part of the charm! There’s something special and magical about those gaming sessions that I recall with a deep fondness, and I always look forward to future gaming gatherings. The SNES has plenty of great 4-player games that would steal the show at any retro gaming party. I hope this list serves you well and gives you some new games to try out with your loved ones. Feel free to comment below too — glaring omissions perhaps or games you enjoy best from this list. Happy gaming, and happy holidays!

Let the good times roll :)
Let the good times roll :)

Barkley Shut Up and Jam! (SNES)

Pub & Dev: Accolade | June 1994 | 16 MEGS
Pub & Dev: Accolade | June 1994 | 16 MEGS

25 years ago this month, NBA Jam hit the arcade scene and became a worldwide phenomenon. It’s become embedded in the fabric of pop culture and remains as relevant today as it was back in April of 1993. Even to this day, people quote phrases such as “HE’S ON FIRE!” and “BOOM SHAKA LAKA!” Naturally, clones would soon appear following the smash success of NBA Jam. One of them was Barkley Shut Up and Jam. Let’s just say, there’s a reason why people fondly reminisce about NBA Jam even 25 years later and there’s a reason why many people have forgotten about Barkley Shut Up and Jam. But does that mean the game is completely without merit? Time to pump my Reebok sneakers and find out…


My childhood Hollywood Video, taken January 2006
My childhood Hollywood Video, taken January 2006

On a quiet rainy Monday evening of January 30, 2006, just two weeks into my Super Nintendo comeback, I stopped by my childhood Hollywood Video. That evening I drove to my old stomping grounds hopeful to add more games to my rapidly growing collection.

Bats, bobcats and Barkley indeed
Bats, bobcats and Barkley indeed

Entering the giant store like I’d done so many times before more than a decade ago, I wasted no time in making a beeline straight for Game Crazy. Hell, not even the horror section could entice me on this night. I ended up getting six SNES games. While I was ecstatic to buy ActRaiser, the game that thrilled me most at the time was actually Barkley Shut Up and Jam. Aside from Bubsy, it’s the only game of the lot that I rented as a kid. I remember enjoying it with my brother and friends back in the summer of 1994, so I had a strong nostalgic connection to it. I was morbidly curious to see how it would hold up some 12 years later.

Hard to believe 2006 is now 12 years ago...
Hard to believe 2006 is now 12 years ago…
What a fun time early 2006 was to get back into SNES
What a fun time early 2006 was to get back into SNES


The Round Mound of Rebound
The Round Mound of Rebound

Born and raised in Leeds, Alabama, Sir Charles Barkley averaged 19.1 points and 17.9 rebounds per game his senior year in high school. He played three years of college ball for Auburn University, averaging 14.1 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game. He declared for the NBA draft in 1984 where he was selected #5 by the Philadelphia 76ers, just two slots after Chicago took Michael Jordan. He averaged 14 points and 8.6 rebounds per game his rookie season. He gave the 76ers’ organization and fans eight tremendous years. His best years there included averages of 28.3 points and 11.9 rebounds per game. Another season he averaged 23 points, 14.6 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.5 blocks per game. Barkley was traded to the Phoenix Suns following the 1991-1992 season.


Barkley continued his reign of dominance in the Valley of the Sun. His first year there was arguably his best. Averaging 25.6 points, 12.2 rebounds and a career high 5.1 assists per game, Barkley led the Suns to a 62-20 record and was deemed MVP. The Suns made the NBA Finals that year (their first since 1976) but lost in six games to Michael Jordan and the Bulls.

Houston, we've got a problem
Houston, we’ve got a problem

Barkley was shipped to the Houston Rockets on August 19, 1996. Now at the back end of his career, Barkley was joining a veteran team in hopes of finally capturing a Championship ring. Playing alongside Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon and Clyde “The Glide” Drexler, the Rockets were considered title contenders. In the ’96-’97 season, Barkley averaged 19.2 points and 13.5 rebounds per game. The Rockets made the playoffs several times but always came up short. Barkley’s last NBA game took place on April 19, 2000. He was 37 years old.



Charles Barkley has always been a magnetic character. Outspoken and brash, Barkley went on to become a key member of TNT’s award winning Inside the NBA post-game show.

Chuckster having a good time with Ernie and Kenny
Chuckster having a good time with Ernie and Kenny
The 76ers retired his #34 jersey on March 30, 2001
The 76ers retired his #34 jersey on March 30, 2001



Shut Up and Jam is 2-on-2 street basketball. Play by the clock (1, 3 or 5 minutes per quarter) or by points (first team to 21 or 50 wins). Select from single game, series or tournament. A password feature is implemented to save your progress. Barkley is the big boss in the tournament mode if you manage to make it to the Finals.



Select from 16 players, including Barkley himself and 15 street legends. As you would expect, each one has different strengths and weaknesses.

Turbo meter similar to NBA Jam
Turbo meter similar to NBA Jam. Watch your balls…
Each game begins with a tip-off from the heavens
Each game begins with a tip-off from the heavens
And ends with the stats. Whew that was a close one
And ends with stats. Whew, that was a close one
Like NBA Jam, no rules! Let the bodies hit the floor!
Like NBA Jam, no rules — let the bodies hit the floor!
By any means necessary
By any means necessary


Dunks aren't quite as outlandish as NBA Jam
Dunks aren’t quite as outlandish as NBA Jam
Nothing like a thunderous two-handed reverse FLUSH!
I love the thunderous two-handed reverse FLUSH


Ah, the glory days of the NBA...
Ah, the glory days of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest
Alright, I see you, Gerald Green. I see you *golf clap*
Alright, I see you, Gerald Green. I see you *golf clap*


Sir Charles Barkley
Sir Charles Barkley
Note: All ratings are out of 8
Note: All ratings are out of 8

The round mound of rebound, Barkley is arguably the best player in the game. A fierce rebounder and competitor, Barkley is the king of trash talking.



Two words: rebound specialist. Sans Barkley, no one can touch Chilly when it comes to pulling down boards. He’s got great speed, he can shoot twos and he can jam. Match him up with anyone who can shoot the three to create a potent 1-2 punch. Why is he called Chilly? Don’t piss him off and you’ll be lucky never to find out why.



There’s nothing wimpy about D. This dude will swat it if you pull up in the lane. He’ll rip your head off if you get in front of him for a rebound. Combine his speed and defensive ability with a guy who can shoot the rock and you’ve got a blacktop team to reckon with.



Scouts drool over Dane. A jack of all trades, Dane has made a name for himself on the blacktops. Many believe he could not only play in the NBA but dominate it. But Dane isn’t about the travel life. He’s content being a legend in his own backyard where all the little kids look up to him. He’s not the greatest dunker around, but he does everything else very well to great.

Fly By
Fly By


One of the worst 3 point shooters on the circuit, he didn’t earn his name for marksmanship. But if you want spectacular speed and slam dunks, Fly By is your guy.

Funky D
Funky D


At the three point arc, this cat is LIGHTS OUT. Sure, he can’t dunk for diddly. And he bricks badly on the occasional 15 footer. Yeah, he gets bounced around inside like a rag doll. But if it’s bombs you want, it’s bombs you’ll get with the Funkster. Oh and you gotta love how he rocks that mini fro.



Gunner earned his nickname for being the best damn shooter around. Sure, he can’t jam for shit, but who cares when you’ve got a guy who can hit from anywhere, is quick as hell and rebounds like a mad man.



Scouts don’t know whether to offer him an NBA tryout or call the FBI. Pure destruction down low, rumor has it Newts once broke a guy’s arm just for looking at him funny. Even Barkley is a little cautious around this certified nut job.



There’s nothing flashy about Sarge, but no one ever outworks or outhustles him. Not the best talent on the streets, but he’s respected for his sheer tenacity and will to win.



Smoothy is quicker as a hiccup. Many have tried to knock off his shades but none have been successful — he’s just too damn fast! Aside from minor rebounding issues, he’s a dynamic little bastard.



While not the most talented player on the circuit, Spike is a legitimate double threat. Crowd him at half court and he’ll blow by you. Give him too much space and he’ll be hitting bombs from downtown.



A monster on the boards, Stonewall guards the paint like it were his booze. Big on intimidation, low on finesse. The battles for rebounding supremacy between him, Chilly, D-Train, Barkley and Newts are legendary.

Sweet Peas
Sweet Pea


If you like the long ball, Sweet Pea is your man. He practically knocks down threes in his sleep. He can also high rise with the best of them. A true showoff, Sweet Pea always puts on a show and has developed a cult following. He’s blessed with NBA talent but chooses to keep it in the streets.



If Barkley is the best of the 16, then T-Bone is definitely #2. Essentially the improved version of Dane, who in his own right is a jack of all trades, T-Bone is a KING of all trades. The only player in the game with at least a six out of eight rating in every single category, T-Bone could walk onto an NBA court today and instantly be a top 3 player. His legend grows with each passing day. His battles with Dane are legendary as the two battle to be the LeBron James of street basketball.



Gifted with blinding speed and a tremendous ability to dunk the basketball, he’s earned the moniker of Wildman because that’s the only way to describe his game. He may look like that one unskilled guy you played ball with growing up who could only hustle and jostle, but Wildman is a better shooter than one might think.



A poor man’s Wildman, Xaos has trouble hanging with the big boys. He’s not bad, especially if speed and dunking is your thing. But everything he can do, Wildman does as well or better. If you like underdogs, Xaos is your guy.



There are eight locations to choose from. Aside from Phoenix, they all take place in the streets. Let’s take a quick tour, then, shall we?


This rooftop blacktop has seen many battles and bruises throughout the years. Those living in the apartment nearby get quite the view.


Better bring your A-game, or you’ll quickly join the heap of trash.


Watts is a residential district in southern Los Angeles. Hoop it up in the schoolyard at night, where a single street lamp oversees the intense action. Don’t bitch about how you can’t see — just shut up and jam.


Players duke it out in this abandoned warehouse. The best players come here every weekend to stake their claim. For them, it’s the perfect way to spend a Saturday morning. Or any other morning for that matter.


It’s always a good time in Miami, unless you’re getting your ass kicked on this beautiful court. The ladies here like to size up the best of the best. While some will play to win their affection and adoration (among other things), others just want to win the game.


It’s not quite the fabled Rucker Park (of Harlem fame), but this court is famous in its own right. Word on the street is Michael Jordan honed his craft here a time or two. There’s always a big rowdy crowd on hand. Can’t handle the intensity? Best go back to your driveway, rook.


Play by the infamous L Train in the shadow of the Windy City. This is yet another famous blacktop where the toughest and roughest have etched their name in the annals of street ball history.


Last stop of the grand tour is the Valley of the Sun where you’ll go up against the great Sir Charles Barkley himself. Few street ballers have earned the right to play ball here and nobody, NOBODY, has ever beaten Barkley in his own building. Can you be the first to rewrite history? [Or solve a mystery… WOO HOO! Ahem, sorry… -Ed.]

Be sure and tell 'em STEVE sent ya! AH-HA-HA-HA-HA!
Be sure and tell ‘em STEVE sent ya! AH-HA-HA-HA-HA!

Hope y’all enjoyed the grand tour. Be sure to stop by the gift shop and tell ‘em… ah, you know the rest! :P


Just another day at the office for the Funkster
Just another day at the office for the Funkster


Wildman doing what he does best: throwing down!
Wildman doing what he does best: throwing down!


Fast and compact, Smoothy jams it home
Smoothy slams it home and keeps his shades on
Sweet Pea with the killer windmill jam
Sweet Pea with the killer windmill jam


Sweet Pea is nearly automatic from outside
Sweet Pea is nearly automatic from outside
And he doesn't mind trash talking to boot!
And he doesn’t mind trash talking to boot!
Spike gets so high his Mo almost touches the sky
Spike gets so high his Mohawk nearly touches the sky
That Dane is money all day, all night
That Dane is money all day, all night
T-Bone knows that is good
T-Bone knows that is good
To the T-Bone fans out there, relax. He'll get his
To the T-Bone fans out there, relax. He’ll get his
T-Bone: The LeBron James of the Streets
T-Bone: The LeBron James of the streets
T-Bone is so damn smooth and good
T-Bone is so damn smooth and good
T-Bone gets major air
T-Bone gets major air
The wind up...
The wind up…
And the signature stamp
And the signature stamp





The year was 1992. I was watching TV on a random Saturday night when I first saw the commercial for Godzilla vs. Charles Barkley. As a huge Godzilla fan, I couldn’t believe it. At the time I had no idea about the Heisei series (Godzilla films were still being cranked out in the early ’90s on a yearly basis). With no internet back then, the last I saw Godzilla was in Godzilla 1985. So to say that I lost my shit would be a gross understatement. The Big Guy was back!

My drawing I drew some five years later in 1997
I drew this some five years later in 1997

I even drew a picture of the fight for an art class in junior high. I can’t draw to save my life, but I had a blast drawing this all the same. Good times.

This made me the coolest kid in elementary school
This made me the coolest kid in elementary school

I actually thought when I first saw the commercial in 1992 that they were going to turn this into a movie. My mom even bought me the t-shirt, which made me the coolest kid at school. My friends and classmates loved reading the profiles for Barkley and Godzilla. I recall Barkley’s favorite meal being mom’s home cooking!

Over 25 years ago now!

Bigger than King Ghidorah! Deadlier than MechaGodzilla! It’s… Charles Barkley?!

Never forget
Never forget


As I blew the dust off my old drawing, the wheels started to turn. What if, somehow, I could show Chuck this? And in the process, score an interview with the Round Mound of Rebound? I also asked if I could interview Barkley about his SNES video game. I sent out an email to Barkley’s PR people just over 10 years ago in 2008. Imagine my shock and disbelief when I saw the following in my email box…

  • From: Charles Barkley’s PR people
    Sent: Tue 3.18.08 9:05 AM
    To: Steve

    Your Godzilla vs. Barkley drawing was sent to Charles, in addition to your request for an interview for his old video game. It was well received. We can set something up for next week. Charles is very busy but he said he can swing 10 minutes.

As a result, I found myself interviewing Charles Barkley on March 26, 2008!


Me: I know you’re busy, so thank you for taking the time.

CB: You gonna give my game a good score, right?

Me: Sure. Of course… so, have you ever heard of RVG Fanatic?

CB: Never in my life.

Me: Real quick, what was the Godzilla gig like?

CB: Fun as hell. The Japanese people love me, and who can blame them?

Me: Do you mind fielding a few general basketball questions before we get to the video game?

CB: Fire away.


Me: You’ve played against both Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. Many think Kobe is this generation’s Michael Jordan. How wide is the gap between the two?

CB: I think Kobe’s great, he fantastic, all of that. But people who think he as good as Michael was, they must never have seen Michael. Because if they did, they would say no such thing. But for 2008, Kobe is as close as you gonna get. And I like Kobe, he’s a tremendous talent, but Michael? Come on now!

Me: You’ve had such a wonderful career. Ever wake up in the middle of the night and get that itch?

CB: I used to, you know. But now it’s mainly an itch from a bug bite or something *chuckles* Yeah, those days are long gone. I’m happy where I’m at. Life is good for the Chuckster.


Me: I love your work on TNT with Ernie and Kenny. What is it like being on that show?

CB: It’s great, aside from the lousy pay and some jackass studio people who think they know it all. But man, lemme tell you something, I get to work only one day of the week, I have some good people looking out for me, and best of all, sitting next to two losers like Kenny and Ernie makes me look really good! *chuckles*


Me: Good ol’ Kenny. You gotta love that little Tar Heel bastard. What’s it like working with Kenny?

CB: Like a gawd damn root canal. Naw, working with Kenny is interesting. He always makes me laugh… whenever I look at that ugly ass mug of his *chuckles*


Me: I remember that time you guys played that little joke on Kenny about Justin Timberlake hitting a jumper in his face…

CB: Oh yeah he had that coming. They always trying to clown the Chuckster so any chance I get, I’ll get him. As long as I’m around, he’ll never live that down.


Me: What about Ernie? What’s it like working with him?

CB: Ernie who? Oh you mean that middle-aged white boy riding my coat tails? Oh OK, that Ernie. Naw, Ernie is just wonderful. People stop me on the street all the time to ask me if Ernie is black or white.

Me: And you tell them… ?

CB: That he white as hell. White as Wonder Bread *chuckles*

Me: He keeps you and Kenny in check, eh?

CB: That he does. Naw listen, he’s one of the best in the business. I’m really happy for his success. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Me: I know your time is precious, so let’s jump to the game now. What are your memories of it?

CB: I was never a big game player, even then, but I saw an opportunity to get involved with a basketball game that I wanted to have my style of play on it. Physical, fast, no rules.


Me: Were the 15 street ballers real? Your partner in the game was Dane. Was he legit?

CB: Most were real, others based off players I seen on the streets. Dane was real. He and I used to play ball growing up. There was nothing the kid couldn’t do. He could have made the NBA but he made some bad choices along the way. You see kids like him in the ‘hood all the time. All the talent in the world but then they get caught up in something that ruins them. Or they simply get caught at the wrong place and wrong time.


Me: That’s too bad. Any others you have a story about?

CB: Every ‘hood has a Chilly. He’s the guy you don’t mess around with. Hell, I think there should be more guys like Chilly in the suburbs. Kids these days too damn soft!


Me: My bro’s favorite player was Sweet Pea. What’s the lowdown on him?

CB: Sweet Pea was real. Ton of talent, big heart. The bigger the crowd the better he played. He used to steal kisses with the honeys on the sideline as he dribbled the ball up. I ain’t never seen that before. Hey, more power to him.


Me: My favorite was T-Bone. Was T-Bone real?

CB: I haven’t thought about T-Bone’s ass in years. So my main man Dane was great, but man, T-Bone was special. He was ahead of his time. He was like the T-Mac of the streets. 6’8″ and there was nothing he couldn’t do. The best player I ever saw who never made it to the NBA.

Me: To bring the interview to a close, I’m going to mention some names of the people who worked on the game with you. Feel free to say something if a name strikes your fancy.

CB: Shoot.


Me: Thanks Sir Charles, it was a real honor.

CB: You got it. Good luck with JVG Fanatic.

Me: RVGFanatic.

CB: Whatever *chuckles*

Note: This was conducted back in March 2008
Note: This Q&A was conducted back in March 2008

April FOOLS! Sorry I couldn’t resist. But seriously, not to leave you feeling totally cheated, here’s a LEGIT design session held with the Chuckster from back in the day.



“So this is what you people do? What’s the world coming to?” Thus, amid much laughter, did Charles Barkley start his visit to Accolade. When the day was done, Barkley’s style and personality were part of the product and the design team was happy to have met such an individual who cuts through the “image is everything” athletic Public Relations bull. Refreshing.


The morning began with an overview of competing products. While Barkley is not a big video game player, he already knew what he wanted.

“I think it would be great to be different,” said Barkley. “You don’t want the same old boring thing.”

The basic premise put forward by the design team was a two-on-two game, and within a tournament, a number of games played around the country in different locations. The games would be played in the streets and it was this point that Barkley emphasized.

It was immediately clear that the NBA star felt very strongly that the roots of basketball are in the neighborhoods and playgrounds of America, not in the $200 courtside seats of the NBA. “Basketball is a playground game,” he told the game designers. “It’s where I got my start and it’s where the game of basketball originated.” He told them about players in his old neighborhood who had as much or more talent than guys playing in the NBA, but just didn’t have the breaks or the bucks to make it.


“The level of talent is just tremendous,” he said. “It’s more passionate on the street and people just play because they love the game. We used to play all day in the streets. It’s tremendous basketball, because you have to compete at such a high level. With 10 guys on the side you knew if you lost you wouldn’t get to play for a long time.”


“Basketball has gotten away from its roots,” Barkley explained. “I love the street game. LOVE IT. When you go to the neighborhoods there are legends — people just known by their nicknames.”

Teamwork was another item Barkley mentioned. “It’s important to work as a team. You have to have teammates to help each other. The street game is more passionate. This game will be based off of my personality. I play physical. I play hard. I play aggressive. I want the players to work together. I want the game to be fun.”

Each of these suggestions, along with basic Barkley moves such as the thunder dunk have been incorporated into this game. Interestingly, Barkley had no burning desire to beat other celebrity endorsed products. “I just want to put out a good game.”



Shut Up and Jam! takes advantage of the SNES multitap, allowing for up to four players to partake. The computer is a real pushover, so the real fun lies in playing this game with three others (provided you can find three pals who would be willing to play this over NBA Jam…)


My brother and I, along with our friends from the neighborhood, used to play four player Shut Up and Jam! before competing in some real life 2-on-2 in my backyard. Ah, those were the days. We squeezed lots of fun out of the game, even if it wasn’t very good.


What an insane game... I was Fly By
What an insane game! (I was Fly By)
WILT WHO?! 106 points, baby!
WILT WHO?! 106 points, baby!



The ads for Shut Up and Jam! matched the trash talking intensity of one, Sir Charles.


This photo ain’t blurry.

It’s just how you’re

gonna see me

after I knock

your sorry self

to the blacktop

and dunk

on your head

ten times.


Yes, and we all know how those turn out…

Back in the ’90s, most games with the name of a professional athlete in its title usually sucked. It was like a cheap way of marketing a subpar game to the gullible masses of kids who looked up to these star athletes. Once in a while you got a gem like Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball. Or surprisingly decent efforts like Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City.


But for the most part, games featuring a star athlete’s name in its title were pretty bad. Remember Bill Laimbeer’s Combat Basketball? Or how about…



Barkley Shut Up and Jam! was never reviewed by EGM, GameFan or Super Play. It doesn’t have a savory reputation, to say the least. It’s definitely closer to Shaq Fu than it is to Chaos in the Windy City, in terms of fan reception.

Well said, my friend
Well said, my friend



Shut Up and Jam has more going against it than it does going for it. But that doesn’t mean it’s completely worthless. The gameplay felt a little funky at first and the roster isn’t the greatest, but Shut Up and Jam oddly grew on me after a while. Revisiting this game over a decade ago was an interesting experience. Believe it or not, I liked it quite a bit back in 1994. It was a fun alternative when my friends and I wanted a break from NBA Jam, even though we knew it had fundamental flaws. In spite of its numerous warts, I can still pop it in today for 10 minutes and have a decent time messing around with it.

Er, not even close
Er, not even close

The graphics and sound are below average. The visuals look muddy, but in some respects I guess it reflects the gritty feel of street ball. The animation is extremely lacking and so players move a bit awkwardly. Despite some stiff animation, thank goodness the game plays fairly fast and tight. There are some digitized speech samples from Barkley, but you hardly notice it.


You shoot, slam, shove and swat. You can run over the opponent, or you can jump and knock their ass to the ground when they go for the big jam. It’s not meant to be taken seriously and when taken at face value, it can be oddly enjoyable. Trying out the different players and team combinations is part of the fun as well. Jump shots must be released at the peak of your jump or you can expect an airball, which happens more here than any other basketball game I’ve ever played. Annoying to say the least!


Although on the surface it may seem a lot like NBA Jam, it really does have its own feel, somewhat. Sans the one arena, I enjoy the blacktop gritty atmosphere the game generates. It’s just a bunch of dudes from the ‘hood balling to be the best. And even though Shut Up and Jam advocates the slam dunk, nothing beats weaving through the lane and then kicking it out to your wide open teammate for the sweet 18 foot jumper. That swish is music to my ears. Let the trash talking begin! And if you’re thinking of making any cheap excuses, just remember this one thing…


Graphics: 4
Sound: 4.5
Gameplay: 4.5
Longevity: 5

Overall: 4.5


NBA Jam Series (SNES)

Pub: Acclaim | Dev: Iguana | March 1994 | 16 MEGS
Pub: Acclaim | Dev: Iguana | March 1994 | 16 MEGS

On the eve of Game 5 of the 2017 NBA Finals, pitting the Golden State Warriors against the Cleveland Cavaliers, I can’t help but be in a basketball state of mind. Yesterday I reviewed Looney Tunes B-Ball, which is one of my dear childhood favorites. It clearly drew inspiration from this next game. NBA Jam dominated quarters in the arcades and later living rooms across the nation in the mid ’90s. It was basketball like never seen before. Prior to NBA Jam, many basketball games were serious and more simulation-based. Sure, you had games that came before it such as Arch Rivals and Midway’s very own Basketbrawl. But it was NBA Jam (also developed by Midway) that really broke the ceiling, appealing to even non-basketball fans with its wild acrobatic dunks and frenetic gameplay. Once in a blue moon, a game comes along and becomes more than a game. It transcends the hobby, becoming a beast and fusing its way into pop culture. In the history of video games, only a small handful of games can truly claim that. NBA Jam is one of those select few that etched itself into our hearts. It is still fondly revered to this day. So put on your squeaky sneakers and tiny John Stockton shorts [wait, WHAT?? -Ed.]… because it’s time to jam.

The battle of the NBA titans
The battle of the NBA titans
Crank up the drama -- things are getting chippy!
Crank up the drama — things are getting chippy!


Nothing like being with the boys on a Saturday night
Nothing like being with the boys on a Saturday night

Growing up I was lucky enough to have a local best friend as well as a tight-knit band of brothers and sisters who lived about two hours away. The birth of this connection all started during the Vietnam War. It was there that our dads met on the battlefield. They were blessed enough to survive. Their bond continued post-war. They each went on to marry, have a family and kept in touch. Our countless family friend sleepovers during the late 1980s to mid 1990s were legendary. Staying up until 2 AM, the adults would be downstairs laughing up a storm, dancing the night away, singing bad karaoke songs and reminiscing about the good old days. Not to mention the occasional war story retold for the 90th time. Meanwhile, upstairs, a group of young boys and girls were busy hanging out, chilling, filming crappy home movies, and of course, playing video games galore. It was the greatest time of my childhood. So many epic sleepovers and events that took place whenever my “Gaming Crew” got together. They’re a big part of what made my childhood such a special time in my life.

Many Saturday nights were spent blasting one another
Many Saturday nights spent blasting one another

My gaming crew and I played hundreds of games together back in the good old days. But of all the titles we played, there were three we constantly came back to. The first was Super Bomberman. It was our first foray into 4 player party gaming bliss. Dropping bombs like mad men, cavorting around the various maps and praying that the flames will miss you by at least a pixel was incredibly addicting. Add to that the natural chemistry our group shared and WOW. It was video gaming magic.

You became a hero if you could knock off Sushi-X
You became a hero if you could knock off Sushi-X

The second game my group loved to play on Saturday nights was Street Fighter II Turbo. In our group the top dog was a guy we all affectionately nicknamed as Sushi-X. He earned this nickname thanks to his lavish love of EGM and all things Street Fighter II, just like the Sushi-X persona from EGM fame. One glance at our disfigured thumbs would clue you in at just how many bloody hours we spent dragon punching one another. Like a guitar player’s calluses, we were proud of our battle scars. There was nothing better than all 11 of us huddled around the Sony monitor, determined to finally down Sushi-X, the tough bastard. Many tried but few ever did.

Everyone was kung fu fighting... and JAMMING
Everyone was kung fu fighting… and JAMMING

Before we get to the third game my crew was madly obsessed about [I’m pretty sure they already know what that third game is -Ed.], let’s continue this stroll down memory lane. THE YEAR WAS 1993. Fighting games were all the rage. Everywhere you went it was all about Street Fighter II or Mortal Kombat. Fighting games dominated the arcade scene. They graced gaming magazine covers month after month and every kid on the playground was buzzing about them. What could stop this roaring freight train? Or at least steal some of the thunder? That’s when NBA Jam swooped in and took a gaming nation by storm. The unique and outrageous arcade style of 2 on 2 basketball immediately caught on like gangbusters. In a nutshell, 1993 was conquered by fighting games and NBA Jam.

Yes, NBA Jam was THAT big of a deal....
Yes, NBA Jam was THAT big of a deal…

NBA Jam became a monster in its own right, captivating the imagination of a gaming nation so much that some people were forced to beg the question, is NBA Jam better than even Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter II? Walk into any arcade hall back in 1993 and you would hear the eclectic medley of “HADOKEN!” “FINISH HIM!” and “HEATING UP! HE’S ON FIRE!!!” Man, those were the good old days right there. Coupled with the 16-bit war, it was a hell of a time to be a robust 10 year old boy growing up in suburban America. In March 1994, NBA Jam hit home consoles to much fanfare. My brother and I bought the SNES version on launch day. What made NBA Jam so compelling? What made it such an amazing phenomenon? I came up with six reasons why. Fittingly so, in the form of NBA JAM, acrostic style.


N = No Holds Barred
B = Boy on Fire
A = Aerial Assault

A = Al Gore, ‘Nuff Said
M = Multiplayer Madness!


It was Arch Rivals on steroids
It was Arch Rivals on steroids

The very first thing that strikes you about NBA Jam is the simplistic 2 on 2 tornado tag team style of play. After that you quickly realize there are no rules. No fouls, no out of bounds, hell, you can even push the opposition as if you’re in the WWF. This made for a unique, frenetic and exciting experience.


Three simple, iconic words
Three simple, iconic words

Sometimes an athlete gets locked into the zone. You catch fire on your best days, and this is the case here almost literally. There was nothing better (or worse, depending on which side of the coin you’re on) than hearing those infamous words, “HE’S ON FIRE!” To enable this, nail three consecutive shots with the same player without letting your opponent score. Your shot percentage shoots way through the roof once you’re on fire. This lasts until the opposition scores or you score several times in a row. It is essentially a built-in temporary cheat code!







Literally scorching hot! I love how the net is temporarily singed. Best of all, besides your three point shot being nearly automatic (even if you’re not a good 3 point shooter), your turbo meter never runs out. This means you can shove to your heart’s content without discretion. I love the sweet sound of the ball scorching its way through the hoop. It’s beautiful. MAKE IT RAIN, BABY!


More dunkin' than a donut shop
More dunkin’ than a donut shop

You can’t talk NBA Jam without mentioning the crazy slam dunks. It would be like talking about the Civil War sans Abraham Lincoln. Or discussing all-time movie monster icons sans Godzilla. In other words, it just wouldn’t be right. Here at NBA Jam, there are no limits to what these athletes can do. They flip, twist and launch themselves 20 feet in the air to throw it down with the best of them. Everything’s larger than life here!







Favorite dunk? I like the one where you soar in the air spinning like a mad top before you come crashing down with a thunderous one-handed jam. But the best part of dunking occurs in the 4th quarter. With the right power dunk, you can actually shatter the glass!

Tell them, Jim Ross
Tell them, Jim Ross
I'm on it!

It’s pandemonium up in here, folks! Sir Charles has shattered the soul of Texas — Houston, we have a problem! Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon is step dancing all over Barkley’s face! Mad Max Vernon Maxwell’s flesh is being pierced and mutilated by the shards of glass — WOULD SOMEBODY PLEASE STOP THE DAMN MATCH! It looks like a 10 car pileup on I-10 here folks, and I don’t like it a damn bit! Bodies are strewn everywhere. For the LOVE OF GOD, these are human bodies! As God is my witness, he is broken in half!


Shattering the glass is such a rare occurrence in real life basketball that anyone who does it becomes a small part of basketball lore. From Darvin Ham to Shaquille O’Neal, few things in sports match the sheer spectacle of a grown man ripping down the rim as thousands of glass pieces engulf him and anyone nearby in a shower of broken glass. NBA Jam replicates that!

Collins was the first openly gay player in NBA history
Collins was the first openly gay player in NBA history
The best glass shattering though was Slam 'N Jam '96
The best glass shattering though was Slam ‘N Jam ’96
The perspective alone puts it in the driver's seat
The perspective alone puts it in the driver’s seat
Simply a thing of beauty
Simply a thing of beauty
Made for good trash talkin' times
Made for good trash talkin’ times

4. “JAMS IT IN!”

The zany announcer was in your face. You had to smile
The zany announcer was in your face. You had to smile

NBA Jam is known for many things: wild slam dunks, being on fire and basketball brutality. But that list would be incomplete without giving proper credit to the game’s wacky announcer. Being in an arcade hall filled with fervent screams of “HE’S ON FIRE!!” and “BOOM SHAKA LAKA!!” is something arcade goers of the early-mid ’90s will never forget. Some of the zany catchphrases have gone on to become rooted in American pop culture. NBA Jam transcended video gaming itself, something in which very few games could claim.


Easter eggs kept NBA Jam in the spotlight for months

Full of easter eggs and fun oddities, NBA Jam has more secrets than a congressman. I mean, for goodness sake, you could play as the chief-of-state himself, Bill Clinton. Or the vice president, Al “Brings The” Gore. At the time this was rather unheard of and made for some interesting water cooler discourse among the boys. The developers of NBA Jam were wise; they knew having a logjam of secrets meant extra and prolonged publicity. It helped fuel the fire and made NBA Jam even bigger and stronger. Indeed, it was a brilliant strategy. The proof was right there in the pudding. Because in 1993 *AND* 1994, everyone was NBA JAMMING.


The memories live on to this day
The memories live on to this day

I spent countless quarters on this game when it ruled the arcade scene in 1993. It was only a matter of time before it would come home to the 16-bit Super Nintendo. Sure enough, when it did in March 1994, my brother and I rushed out to buy a copy and we never looked back. My gaming crew and I spent countless hours buried in this game, basking in the glow of highly addictive 4 player jam sessions. Between Super Bomberman, Street Fighter II Turbo and NBA Jam, we spent countless Saturday nights in ’93 and ’94 bombing, dragon punching and slam dunking on one another. Nearly 25 years later, I still look back to those good old days every now and again, recalling the special moments those epic and classic games produced for us. There was nothing better than spending a Saturday night with your boys playing 4 player NBA Jam, with the winners playing on and the losers rotating out. We played this amazing port until the cows came home. What an idyllic time to be a 10 year old boy growing up in suburban America. It truly was a special period in my life that I’ll always remember and carry with me.


Give them credit for a spectacular port
Give Iguana Entertainment credit for a great port
THE definitive arcade style basketball game of the '90s
THE definitive arcade style basketball game of the ’90s
Almost 25 years old? Damn I'm getting old
Almost 25 years old? Damn I’m getting old
Its simplicity is part of the charm
Its simplicity is part of the charm
I always liked the hardwood [Of course you do... -Ed.]
NBA Jam is at its best when experienced with four


Who didn't love the bar stats on the back?
Player ratings in NBA Jam reminded me of Marvel ’91
The greener the better
The greener the better

Back in the day, 1991 to be precise, my friends and I were obsessed with collecting and trading cards from the Marvel ’91 series. I couldn’t get enough of the cool pink bars on the back of the cards. You can see where someone fits in the pantheon of the Marvel universe at a quick glance. NBA Jam used a similar system, evoking fond Marvel memories of days gone by. Here’s a look at the 26 other NBA teams below.















































































Although I love the rating system in general, I did find some of the ratings a bit suspect. Reggie Miller’s 3 point rating should be MUCH higher. Also, I have no idea why Nick Anderson’s 3 point rating is zilch, as that season he shot 35% from distance. Interestingly enough, in the sequel, he was rated a perfect 9 out of 9 from downtown.

Halftime's cinema blew my mind back in the day, ha!
Halftime’s FMV blew my mind a bit back in the day :P
Always satisfying to hit that magical 100 point mark
Always satisfying to hit that magical 100 point mark
Patrick Ewing was the man
Patrick Ewing was the man
No battery back up memory? BOO!
No battery back up memory? BOO!

Yup, sadly NBA Jam uses a password system rather than a battery backed save. Thankfully, that was rectified in the “sequel” which appeared less than a year later… not to mention NBA Jam T.E. featured some new tricks (literally) that made it more than just a minor upgrade.

Pub: Acclaim | Dev: Iguana | February 1995 | 24 MEGS
Pub: Acclaim | Dev: Iguana | February 1995 | 24 MEGS

NBA Jam was such a smash success in the arcades and later at home that a sequel was bound to happen. Some see NBA Jam T.E. (Tournament Edition) as a minor upgrade but others see it as a legitimate follow-up and THE definitive NBA Jam title. I fall in the latter camp. Here are some differences highlighted below.







Akklaim or Acclaim? Yeah, you weren’t the only kid who was confused by that growing up back in the ’90s! Anyway, after a nifty little intro we come to the options menu. This is where you can customize the game to be as crazy or as “normal” as you want. This includes hot spots, power-up icons and juice mode. The higher the juice, the faster the speed. x4 is blazing fast — I personally like it on OFF. But it’s there to be tweaked with if the urge ever strikes. More on hot spots and power-up icons in a bit.







Remember how the first game only gave you two players on each team? NBA Jam T.E. starts you off with three, but a secret code expands the roster to give each team 4-5 players. That’s what I’m talking about! At the title screen press start, Y, up, down, B, left, A, right, down, start. Then enter JAM as your initials.







Golden State Warriors start you off with Tom Gugliotta, Latrell Sprewell and Rony Seikaly (damn, my spellcheck just went bonkers). The expanded roster adds in Tim Hardaway and Chris Mullin, two of the better NBA players in the early ’90s who were part of the vaunted RUN TMC (Tim, Mitch, Chris). Wow, talk about two major additions! Not only that but the ratings have also been expanded. Instead of four measly categories the players are now rated in eight! Multiplied by two is kind of the theme here.







Dennis Scott, 3 point extraordinaire, is the fourth man on the Orlando Magic squad. Sadly, no SHAQ to be found here (same with Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and a few others). The Magic is my go-to team. Nowhere else will you find three bombers like Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway, Nick Anderson and Dennis Scott!







Hersey Hawkins of the Charlotte Hornets used to freak me out / pump me up as a kid. He was the only character in the game that when you pick him, his eyes light up white like a demigod. It was the only reason I used the Hornets on occasion, to freak out my brother and friends. Hersey’s white eyes remain a mystery to this day. Perhaps mankind is never meant to know… and yes, that is Dell Curry there, the father of NBA superstar Steph Curry.







Enabling hot spots in the options menu causes pinball-like markers to randomly appear on the court. Score on said marker and be rewarded with the number of points appropriately marked. They range from 4-8 points and can really change the tide of a battle.













Power-up icons if enabled randomly pop up during play. This one is the D icon, which stands for Dunk. Grab this and you can dunk from anywhere on the court, even beyond half court. Made you feel like E.T.













Outrageously fun, you gotta turn on the hot spots and power-up icons. This is the only way to experience NBA Jam T.E., baby!

Other power-up icons include:

  • 3 = better 3 point accuracy
  • B = bomb that knocks out everyone else
  • F = automatically on fire
  • P = increased power
  • S = increased speed
  • T = infinite turbo

All temporary, of course.

Jazzy Jeff and Will Smith were pop culture stars in '95
Jazzy Jeff and Will Smith were megastars in ’95

And in typical NBA Jam fashion, you knew NBA Jam T.E. was going to crank up the number of hidden selectable characters. The first game had a dozen secret characters, including Al Gore and Bill Clinton. The sequel more than tripled that, with over 35 extra secret characters. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was one of my favorite TV sitcom shows back in 1995, so when my friends and I heard the rumors that you could play as Will Smith and Jazzy Jeff… well, a picture is worth a thousand words…

That's what we thought
That’s what we thought

I mean, sure, president Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton and Prince Charles of England were all in play… but THE FRESH PRINCE OF BEL-AIR? Get the hell outta here! Well…


Yup, NBA Jam T.E. went there. I was a huge Will Smith fan back in ’95. I thought he was going to be the next megastar of Hollywood (and he proved that with films such as Independence Day and Men In Black). So to be able to play as him on NBA Jam T.E. was a thrill and a half! We used to joke about how Robert Horry of the Houston Rockets was a Will Smith lookalike. Well now, we can use the real McCoy! :)

Rock out with your boys
Rock out with your boys
Hmm, looks like Will was ready for JAM all along
Hmm, looks like Will was ready for JAM all along


They absolutely freaking loved it
They absolutely freaking loved it

NBA Jam made a killing with the critics. EGM appointed it “Game of the Month” honors by awarding it with scores of 9, 9, 9 and 9. GameFan gave it ratings of 83, 90, 94 and 94%. Super Play rated it 87%. NBA Jam T.E. fared even better. EGM gave it an 8 and 9 while Super Play rated it 90%. In Nintendo Power’s 100th issue, they ranked NBA Jam as the 28th best game of all time. Interestingly enough, they decided to go with the original instead despite admitting that the sequel “refined” certain aspects of the first game. Personally, to me that makes zero sense. If a game refined pretty much everything to its prequel, then give me that sequel any day of the week. But I digress. You can’t go wrong with either title.

Give me Tournament Edition any day of the week
Give me Tournament Edition any day of the week!



NBA Jam slammed its way into our consciousness nearly 25 years ago and to this very day it still resonates deeply and fondly in our hearts. It took the simple sport of basketball and made it even simpler by stripping it down to 2 on 2. Add to that no rules and wild exaggerated slam dunks. Above all else, it tapped into something many video games would kill to have: it was simply a total blast to play. With three buddies in tow, it’s super competitive, highly addictive and downright magical. Although the game features greater than life abilities, I still enjoy executing the basic fundamental plays. For instance, going for the slam dunk only to throw a mid-air pass to my teammate for the wide open 14 foot baseline jumper. It’s immensely satisfying to trounce someone with a sound strategic play in a world that promotes the complete exact opposite. And that’s also what makes NBA Jam (and its sequel) so layered. You can play it as crazy as you wish or as basic and sound as you want. Or, the best of both worlds, which no other game at the time presented the player with. To me that’s always been a very underrated aspect of what makes NBA Jam so timeless and classic. Yeah everyone talks about the crazy plays and what have you, but at the end of the day it’s still a basketball game that allows you to win by simply making the simple fundamental plays, if you choose to do so.


Graphically, both NBA Jam and NBA Jam T.E. look great, but I give the slight edge to T.E. for looking just that little bit more refined. I love the music in both games. Composer Jon Hey did a tremendous job with some catchy tunes. Of course, you can’t talk NBA Jam without mentioning its zany announcer, Tim Kitzrow. His voiceovers made the faithful leap to the Super Nintendo in brilliant fashion. NBA Jam T.E. is the definitive Jam on the SNES simply because it plays faster, there are more players (and hidden characters), more options (the hot spots and power-up icons help spice things up) and oh yeah, MORE MEGS! NBA Jam T.E. is boosted up to 24 MEGS while the original is just 16 MEGS. But in all seriousness, like I said earlier, you can’t go wrong with either game, but make no bones about it — NBA Jam T.E. is the better of the two. Having said that, NBA Jam captured the imagination of a nation and reinvented the way sports video gaming was presented and perceived, cementing itself in gaming lore for all eternity.

NBA Jam overall score: 9.0

Gold Award
Gold Award




NBA Jam T.E. overall score: 9.5

Double Gold Award
Double Gold Award




Jamming on after all these years
Jamming on after all these years :D

Looney Tunes B-Ball (SNES)

Pub: Sunsoft | Dev: Sculptured Software | February 1995 | 16 MEGS
Pub: Sunsoft | Dev: Sculptured Software | February 1995 | 16 MEGS

Last night saw the Cleveland Cavaliers pounce the Golden State Warriors, 137-116. It was Game 4 of the 2017 NBA Finals and we’re back to the infamous 3-1 internet meme. Things are a little different this time around, however. Namely, the Cavs would have to win four straight instead of three, Draymond Green won’t be suspended for Game 5, Steph Curry is healthy and oh yeah, a man by the name of Kevin Durant. Last night’s game got a little, well, looney at times. The refs lost complete control of the game as seven technicals were dealt and even a fan got ejected. Speaking of looney, it made me thought of a dear old childhood SNES favorite of mine, Looney Tunes B-Ball. Best described as the cast of Looney Tunes meets NBA Jam, it’s a shame the game never really achieved the status or notoriety that it should have. So while we wait for the highly anticipated Game 5 Monday night, let’s take a moment to shine the spotlight on one of the better 4 player games on the Super Nintendo.

The battle of the NBA titans
An intense battle of NBA titans
Crank up the drama -- things are getting chippy!
Crank up the drama — things are getting chippy!


One of my favorite Genesis games of all time
One of my favorite Genesis games ever

Growing up in the early ’90s I was blessed to own both the Sega Genesis and the Super Nintendo. While I loved both systems dearly, it was clear that by ’94 the SNES had pulled (way) ahead for me. But one weekend in ’94 I rented Tiny Toons Adventures: ACME All-Stars. It featured a colorful and zany basketball mode that my brother and I absolutely loved. Even though my allegiance in ’94 had switched over to the SNES side, this game reminded me that my old buddy, the Sega Genesis, wasn’t going down without a fight. My bro and I played that basketball mini-game to death that weekend! I remember wishing that someone would make a full game out of it for the SNES. Little did I know, my wish came true some months later with the arrival of Looney Tunes B-Ball. OK, so it featured Looney Tunes instead of Tiny Toons and it was 2 on 2 instead of 3 on 3, but the point remains. It was its own full game! But was it as good as the Genesis one? My brother and I rented a copy pronto in early ’95 to find out for ourselves…

Not only was it good, it was better :)
Not only was it good, it was better :)



Daffy Duck: Another day, another ARTISTIC triumph.

Bugs Bunny: Not bad. Think you can keep up in a game o’ hoops?

Daffy: Surely YOU JEST!

Bugs: ^_^

Daffy: Lead the way, rabbit. I’ve got more dunks than a donut shop.

Riveting stuff, really.

Sadly, Aero is NOT a hidden character. What a tease!
Sadly, Aero is not a hidden character. What a tease!
NBA Jam meets Looney Tunes
NBA Jam meets Looney Tunes is a winning formula



I love games that allow you to customize, as is the case here. You can play a versus game or partake in a tournament. Up to four can play. The wacky meter determines how crazy your game will be (more on this later). The difficulty is adjustable from levels 1-10 and the quarter length ranges from 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 10 minutes (I prefer the default 2). If you’re playing with a CPU player, put Follow Mode ON if you want to control whoever has the ball.

It's like an egg hunt except it's a, er, code hunt
It’s like an egg hunt except it’s a, er, code hunt

There’s even a code hunt option. Remember the code craze of that era with games such as Mortal Kombat II and NBA Jam? Yup, it was just a sign of the times!


Eat your carrots kids and you too can ball like Bugs!
Eat your carrots kids and you too can ball like him

Bugs is my favorite baller. Sure, he ain’t much of a defender, but boy, can that rabbit shoot. He’s lights out anywhere below the 3 point arc. Although his 3 point rating is only halfway, I find him to be a fairly reliable 3 point hand as well. Plus, he’s Bugs Bunny. He’s the man, er, rabbit. You know what I mean!

His 3 point shot is DETH-PICABLE!
His 3 point shot is DETH-PICABLE!

Poor Daffy can’t shoot 3 pointers to save his life, but the duck is the best defender in town. He’s also a stamina monster. Must be all that cardio he does in-between takes.

Taking a break from wabbit season
Taking a break from wabbit season

There is only one man (almost quite literally) that can match Bugs Bunny shot for shot anywhere on the court sans 3 point land, and it’s Elmer Fudd. When you factor in the 3 point shot as well, he’s much more efficient than the “wabbit.” It’s a shame though the guy is as slow as molasses in January. No wonder he can never catch that bloody rabbit!

Road Runner is sitting this one out
Road Runner is sitting this one out

Like Daffy, Wile E. Coyote can’t shoot 3 point shots for squat, but like the duck again, Wile can run for days. He also possesses above average defense and speed. Pair him up with a shooter to maximize gains.

Not even one full bar?! Taz fans are OUTRAGED :P
Not even one full bar?! Taz fans are OUTRAGED :P

Taz is what you might call a “scrub.” The poor git can’t shoot a lick and is only above average in defense and speed. He’s the only player who doesn’t have at least one full bar. We’ve all seen this type of player at the local YMCA or playground. No real skills, but, bless his heart, always gives 100% effort.


Arguably the best shooter in the game, Yosemite Sam is quite a fine talent. But just like Elmer, dude can’t outrun a turtle. Dat facial hair tho.

No Tweety Bird here
No Tweety Bird here

His ‘D’ and 3’s are just about nonexistent, but good thing he’s fast and can last for a good length of time. He’s also not a bad shooter at all — as long as it’s below the 3 point arc that is.

He's your guy if you like speed and 3's
He’s your guy if you like speed and 3’s

Marvin is a strange player. He can’t really hit squat anywhere on the court unless it’s beyond the 3 point arc, where he then transforms into Steph Curry. He’s also as fast as a cheetah. If you’re not careful Marvin will be bombing 3 pointers on your head left and right before you even know it!








Quarters begin with the ball dropping from above. From time to time the ball is replaced with an anvil instead, just to keep players on their toes. Using your turbo will change your character’s avatar from happy to exasperated. How long their turbo can last depends on their stamina rating. Some expire rather fast, which makes the stamina monsters like Daffy, Wile and Sylvester all that much more valuable.







Similar to other basketball games from that era, release the ball at the peak of your jump for best results. I love the net swishes in this game.

Each character has their own unique layup
Each character has their own unique layup

Do you expect anything else other than zany antics galore?

I prefer slam dunking, myself
I prefer slam dunking, myself

But better than wacky layups are crazy dunks. Though oddly, the dunks in NBA Jam are more wild than the ones found here. Sure you have some nutty 720° dunks, but most are of the “jump really high in the air and come slamming down” variety. Slightly disappointing, but not that big a deal.

You shouldn't be shooting anyway, Taz!
You shouldn’t be shooting anyway, Taz!

It’s really neat how you get a big fat REJECTED sign whenever a shot is blocked. It adds to the taunting and teasing. Few things are as satisfying as timing your opponent’s shot perfectly — to rise up at JUST the right time (not a second late, not a second early) and swat that ball back in their face!


Your final stats are shown at the end. Sadly, assists are not accounted for. Bugs Bunny, the two point extraordinaire, proves it here with 21 makes.








Remember the options screen where you can set the Wacky Meter from 1-5? If you set it anywhere from 2-5 then gems will randomly appear on the court. Grab these gems to earn money. It allows you to use special offensive plays. The “Long Range” special costs 10 cents and lets you launch the ball beyond half court. It’s not an automatic make and also it depends on how good your guy is from 3 point land. But with the Long Range shot the chances are pretty good that it goes in, even from full court! Each character has his own unique Long Range shot. For example, Taz chews up the ball and spits it out. Bugs Bunny, on the other hand, or foot, kicks the basketball like a field goal attempt. Good stuff.







Feeling lucky? Then for 50 cents (you can only carry a max of 99¢ by the way), pull the lever. If you make the shot and match three icons, you’ll score more points than normal. However, beware the 3 bombs, which will TAKE AWAY 10 points. VEGAS! can completely change the outcome of a tight game in the closing seconds…







Speaking of wacky, it just wouldn’t be Looney Tunes if cream pies weren’t somehow involved. For 10¢ you can throw a cream pie straight ahead. Your opponent is momentarily stunned if hit, thereby allowing you a clear pathway to the basket. Is there a downside? Well…

OH THE EMBARRASSMENT! But how yummy, too
OH THE EMBARRASSMENT! But how yummy, too
The evil bomb causes a game of HOT POTATO!
The evil bomb causes a game of HOT POTATO!
Poor Elmer. That wabbit always gets the last laugh
Poor Elmer. That wabbit always gets the last laugh

Remember how in NBA Jam players could be “HEATING UP!” and then “HE’S ON FIRE!” ? Well, the same applies here. After scoring three baskets in a row, YOU’RE IN THE ZONE. Now every stat gets a super boost. It lasts until either the quarter expires or the opposition scores.

Sure you will, playa. Sure ya will!
Sure you will, playa. Sure ya will!
Talk about getting a big head...
Talk about getting a big head… *ba-dum tish*

NBA Jam sure didn’t have this though eh? Imagine how freaking cool it would have been to see Muggsy Bogues’ mug plastered at mid-court. Or maybe not.








Additionally, each character has a unique special defensive play that will cost 25¢ (only available on Wacky Meter Level 2 or higher). These unique defensive plays don’t guarantee success but it sure increases your odds — particularly since there are no stinkin’ foul calls to be found here! For example, Daffy busts out the jackhammer and causes the ground to shake so hard that the player drops the ball (unless he’s in the act of shooting). Taz breaks into a tornado spin and knocks down anyone he touches. It all adds to the zany fun of the game, not to mention the strategy.







Personal favorite goes to Wile E. Coyote, who really gets a BANG out of using ACME products. The Detonator Defense blows up the person with the ball, leaving it up for grabs. NBA Jam sure didn’t have this!

Just another day at the office
Just another day at the office
Yes, Taz got ball.... FOR NOW...
Yes, Taz got ball… FOR NOW…

Why is Elmer sporting some opera garb there? And what sort of foul manner is he conjuring?

Elmer's mug says it all, and so too will yours
Elmer’s mug says it all, and so too will yours

OUCH! Being struck by lightning will ruin anyone’s day. And doesn’t Elmer look like a WILD THING there? Max and Maurice Sendak would be proud ^_^

Er, wait. I see Taz. I see Sam. Um, where's Sly?
Er, wait. I see Taz. I see Sam. Um, where’s Sly?

Marvin gets into the act with his Disintegrator Defense zapping what unlucky soul stands before him.

Sam's Dance Defense can only be done at close range
Sam’s Dance Defense can only be done up close
Shenanigans galore...
Shenanigans galore…

Bugs Bunny’s Disguise Defense is trickery at its finest.

But the same can't be said for egos and friendships!
The same can’t be said for egos and friendships…

Sly gets the final laugh with his Remote Control Defense. When activated, a 16 TON weight drops on whoever has the ball. Talk about a massive headache!


... or not
… or not

Thanksgiving 2010 was one for the ages. It started out as a simple family night spent with my cousins, nieces and nephews. Toward the end of the night my brother and cousins began discussing Black Friday plans. Having participated the year before, I didn’t care to do it again. So I went home and fired up Looney Tunes B-Ball around the witching hour. I cranked up the difficulty level to the max (10). And it turned out to be the most epic game ever. Coming down to the final closing seconds, I was up 37 to 36. The computer had the ball with about five seconds to go. Elmer Fudd began dribbling down the court. Knowing that he had to heave a half court prayer, I timed my leap of faith with Daffy Duck. Sure enough, Elmer began his shooting motion for the half court prayer. And at the exact same time, I also rose. What happened next was one of the record books…

Oh crap, Elmer got the ball right back...
Oh noes, Elmer gets the ball right back…

However, the ball came right back to Elmer with a second left on the clock. OH CRAP! I desperately jumped back up as Elmer gave it one last heave. Look at Daffy trying his damnedest there. Unfortunately, I jumped too early and Elmer managed to release the ball with 0.1 left on the clock! This would be a brutal loss to suffer. The ball flew through the air as time froze and the buzzer sounded…

Nice try, pal!

The ball bounced hard off the left side of the rim. WOW, WHAT A FINALE. One of those rare moments in gaming where you just sit back for a second staring at the screen in disbelief. What a game, and what a night. Kiss my ass, Black Friday!



Sadly, Looney Tunes B-Ball didn’t receive much publicity back in the day. GameFan featured it in a lovely two page preview in January 1995 but they never reviewed it. When you consider the fact that this game and the mega popular NBA Jam: Tournament Edition were both released in February of 1995, it’s easy to see how Looney Tunes B-Ball slipped through the cracks. It’s a shame it wasn’t released a few months prior because it would have made a killing during the holiday season of ’94. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Regardless, it’s one of those games that fly under the radar but ask anyone who has ever played it and you’re sure to hear only good things in response.


Boys, I sure hate to break this to y'all but...
Boys, I sure hate to break this to y’all but…

Looney Tunes B-Ball is plain fun and zany. It’s very customizable — you can play a serious straight up game or make it as ridiculous as you want by cranking that wacky meter to the max. I mean, where else can you drop 16 ton ACME weights out of the sky, play the Vegas slots, cross dress, throw cream pies and disintegrate folks into a pile of dust? It really is NBA Jam meets Looney Tunes. OK so maybe the basketball isn’t the best around. You can’t expect that from this type of game. That’s not to say it isn’t functional, though. Far from it! It plays very well, just not at the level of a pure basketball sim. And if that’s what you’re after then look elsewhere. But if you’re looking for a fast, crazy, fun street ball type basketball game, this will scratch that itch and then some. It’s not a deep game by any means. There’s no stat-tracking or 82 game seasons here. All you have is a simple versus mode and a tournament. But when a game is as fun as Looney Tunes B-Ball is, that’s really all you need. If you can round up three buddies, it only gets that much better. Be prepared though for some bruised egos…

[Really? REALLY? -Ed.]
[Really? REALLY? -Ed.]
From all the cool special defensive measures to all the wacky and silly offensive techniques, Looney Tunes B-Ball comes recommended to any and all basketball fans. Even if you don’t particularly care for the sport, if you like fun fast-paced party games in general then this is worth a look. Its appeal goes beyond basketball. It’s a perfect example of what I like to call a sleeper hit. It never got much press and praise back in the day, but behind closed doors everyone I knew growing up loved it. If you’ve dismissed this game for whatever reason without giving it a fair shake before, don’t hesitate to give it a chance. It’s simple, competitive and straight up looney. Featuring those timeless and iconic cartoon characters, it also stands the test of time. The likes of Chris Mullin and Patrick Ewing have faded and given rise to current day stars such as LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but Bugs Bunny will never go out of style. If you’re looking for a fun-filled NBA Jam alternative, you’ve found it here.

Graphics: 7.5
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 8
Longevity: 8.5

AwardsOverall: 8.0
Silver Award