Game Trivia

  • The main inspiration for the game was Arch Rivals released in 1989. Total Carnage was not a commercial success in the arcades and lead designer Mark Turmell wanted to create an arcade game with a theme that had wider mass-appeal.

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  • NBA Jam is recognized as the first coin-op arcade machine to be sports-licensed.

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  • During NBA JAM's development, and possibly during adequate testing, lead designer Mark Turmell learned that there was a potential problem with the game's difficulty settings. He figured out that if the game was too difficult, people would stop playing the game out of discouragement. But if the game was too easy, players would master the game too quickly and thus lose interest, negatively affecting coin revenue. To solve this problem, the "Computer Assistance" feature was added, which would bounce the game back and forth between the computer winning and the human player winning. This feature essentially prevented both sides from gaining too many points ahead at any given time, keeping the game close from start to finish.

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  • Prior to the game's release, Midway had NBA JAM test-played by people of different ages, both children and adults. Feedback was taken during play-testing to accommodate what worked well and what needed to be changed. Possibly the most interesting feedback lead designer Mark Turmell received was when certain NBA players were being controlled , play testers expected that athlete to perform as they would in an actual basketball game. For instance, when Scottie Pippen was being controlled, play testers expected Pippen to be very good at three-point shooting. This feedback was a major contributor to giving each NBA player their own stats and abilities to better mimic how well they performed in basketball.

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  • The NBA was at first unwilling to grant the licensing rights to Midway for the development of NBA JAM due to arcade games being found at seedy bars and other high-crime areas. Naturally, the NBA did not want to be associated with this image.

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  • Mark Turmell once recounted in an interview that the game is haunted. He explained that shortly after Dražen Petrović died, an NBA Jam machine at Midway games would unexpectedly call out the player's name. Staff members were playing a Mortal Kombat machine right next to it when this occurred and staff members were spooked. Mark Turmell believes it's a bug in the game's software and that some original NBA Jam cabinets will still call out "Petrović! Petrović!"

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  • Two players from NBA Jam, Reggie Lewis of the Boston Celtics and Dražen Petrović of the New York Nets both died in 1993, shortly after the original arcade game was released. Neither player has appeared in any other NBA Jam roster.

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  • Shortly after the game came out, according to Mark Turmell, a high-earning arcade in Chicago where NBA Jam was on location was generating so much revenue that the arcade operators were changing their coin boxes everyday to accommodate for the game's earnings. This same location had to temporarily close one week after the game was at that location as a huge fight broke out over who got to play next.

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  • There is supposedly a hidden Battlezone mini game in the 1.0 EEPROM version of NBA Jam that can be accessed with a cheat code without putting any money into the machine. Magazines such as EGM and GamePro were specifically asked not to publish this code according to some accounts. No other ROM revision of the arcade game is believed to contain this mini-game.

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  • The inclusion of the development team as playable characters was intended as a joke among the staff members when they played the game at work. It later became a huge selling-point for NBA Jam, so the team ultimately decided to include themselves in the game as a hidden feature.

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  • There were rumors that the game's cheerleaders are playable characters. Reportedly Mark Turmell has testified they are in the code of the arcade version, but were ultimately removed from the final product as their presence did not please the NBA.

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  • Reportedly, players Shawn Kemp and Shaquille O'Neal had NBA Jam arcade machines themselves during the game's popularity.

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  • Despite the height of his popularity, Michael Jordan does not appear in NBA Jam or in any home conversion due to his separate licensing agreement with the NBA. Additionally, Midway Games could not afford him.

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  • The high-flying dunks the game is known for were performed by Willie Morris Jr., a bouncer at a Chicago club. Midway Games was headquartered in Chicago.

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  • For many, the lack of Michael Jordan and Gary Payton from the roster is a glaring omission. In reality, Payton didn't make the cut, and Jordan previously opted out of the NBA's licensing agreement. However, when NBA Jam caught fire, Payton got in touch with Mark Turmell, mentioning how he and Jordan really wanted to be included. Midway eventually made 50 special NBA Jam arcade machines that had the superstars available (with pumped-up stats), then gave them each one as a present.

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  • NBA Jam earned profits of over $1 billion dollars during its original arcade run, rivaling the box office success of Jurassic Park.

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  • A limited edition of the original arcade game features both Gary Payton and Michael Jordan. These two machines were made for Payton and Jordan's personal use.

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  • The simple universal design of NBA Jam's arcade cabinet makes the cabinet possible to be interfaced with many other arcade games. By simply switching system boards, the game can be converted to other Midway sports games such as NBA Jam Tournament Edition, NBA Hangtime and Maximum Hangtime just to name a few. The cabinet will also run 4-player JAMMA games such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Simpsons and many more.

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  • The NBA granted the license to Midway after the development team showed them the progress of the game being made. The NBA was reportedly overwhelmingly impressed with what Midway was working on.

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  • Additional features that were not featured in the final game included different camera angles, tips from coaches, instant replays and a first-person view on fast breaks.

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  • NBA JAM holds the world record for most money earned at one location in a single week: $2,468 dollars.

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  • Mark Turmell confirmed in an interview in 2008 that the game has a bias against the Chicago Bulls, a suspicion held by players for years. The game is programmed so that the Bulls will always miss last-second shots against the Detroit Pistons. Mark Turmell was a Piston fan.

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  • The NBA received royalties of $100 dollars for each arcade unit sold.

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  • Mortal Kombat creator Ed Boon revealed that a Mortal Kombat basketball court was planned for NBA JAM. The court was later scrapped due to controversies surrounding the game's violence.

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  • Mark Turmell explained about he creative process behind NBA JAM, commenting: "My big ideas in NBA Jam were to do the spectacular dunks and two-on-two basketball, but the whole game was very much a team effort. For instance, someone else came up with the idea of attributes, giving different players different abilities."

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  • One of the cheerleaders in the game is portrayed by Kerri Hoskins, perhaps best-known for portraying Sonya Blade in Mortal Kombat 3.

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  • Future NBA player Stephen Howard provided moves in front of a video camera to be digitized into the game.

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  • The game's commentary dialogue was written entirely by Jon Hey, NBA JAM's sound composer.

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  • There are two known variants to the arcade machine's control panel: some have the NBA Jam logo printed on them along with Pass-Shoot-Turbo over the buttons and red or blue in the circle at the foul lines, while some control panels have just a plain court with white lines.

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Famous Quote

  • "One minute to go!"

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  • "Head-fake!"

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  • "Woaaaah, KABOOM!"

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  • "Rejected!"

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  • "Get that outta here!"

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  • "Is it the shoes?"

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  • "Tonight's match-up!"

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  • "At the buzzer!"

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  • "He's on fire!"

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  • "He's heating up!"

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  • "No good!"

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  • "From downtown!"

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  • "For three!"

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  • "For two!"

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  • "Swish!"

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  • "Wide open!"

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  • "Ugly shot!"

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  • "Gets a lucky bounce!"

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  • "Puts up a brick!"

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  • "NBA JAM halftime report! Altitude with an attitude!"

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  • "WELCOME TO NBA JAM!"

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  • Boomshakalaka!

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  • "It's good!"

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