The upcoming NBA Jam revival for the Wii has been music to the ears of gamers wanting to taste that nostalgic goodness that will see them slam dunking like beasts as if it's easier than breathing, all to the enthusiastic commentary of the in-game announcer. The NBA Jam series is long overdue for a return and with the game's release planned for later in the year, we thought it would be good to talk to producer Pete Trenouth and get an idea of some of the things we'll see in the modern-day NBA Jam.
Talking points include the direction the latest instalment will be taking, the in-game announcer and online play, so get your air-horn ready and put those novelty foam hands on. Jam on three: one... two... three... JAM!
Nintendo Life: First of all, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Can you tell our readers who you are and your involvement in NBA Jam for the Wii?
Pete Trenouth: My name is Pete Trenouth and I’m a producer on NBA Jam.
NL: Since EA Sports acquired the licence to the series, what new direction do you hope to bring to the franchise?
PT: As soon as EA acquired the licence, we said that our main direction was to be as true to the original as possible. To us, this meant recreating that experience everyone got when they played the original JAM back in the day. Making it fun, fast paced, addictive and unforgettable. Setting out initially, we tinkered with a few things, tweaking the core gameplay experience, adding alley-oops, spins, cross-overs and layups to add some more depth. On the visual side, our goal was to make JAM one of the best-looking Wii games bar none, and hands down the best-looking sports game on the Wii.
Once we felt that we had a really good handle on the above, we created some really cool new modes we’ve called Remix Modes.
NL: Can you talk a bit about the game modes that are available and will it be strictly 2-on-2?
PT: We’re not ready to roll out the details on our Remix modes just yet, but there will be more to play than the standard 2-on-2.
NL: On the official NBA Jam website, you invite gamers to vote which players make the cut into the game. It must be good to have that interaction from the fans.
PT: The response we’ve seen from NBA JAM fans voting on our website has been nothing short of phenomenal and completely surpasses anything we have dreamed of. Seeing the passion of NBA JAM fans – whether it comes down to debating the rosters on our forums to posting comments when we have new videos screenshots to share on our facebook site – has been awesome. They are so vocal, have such high expectations, and have some pretty good ideas to boot – it is an experience that our entire team has enjoyed being a part of.
NL: Series creator Mark Turmell is acting as consultant on the game. What's it like to have his presence around the project?
PT: Mark’s involvement with the project has been a huge help. First of all, he’s a great sounding board for any features or ideas that we have. Secondly, Mark is really passionate about JAM, and wants to help out in any way he can. This can come in the form of giving us the nuts and bolts behind decisions that were made on the original JAM, or him challenging us on key decisions we made. In doing so, Mark has made us think twice on our decisions, and has helped make JAM a better game.
NL: Will the game make use of the Wii Remote & Nunchuk combination? What about alternative methods like the Classic Controller?
PT: NBA JAM will make use of the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. Gamers can also play holding the Wii Remote sideways and using buttons only.
NL: One of the things we remember most fondly about NBA Jam is the array of weird power-ups. What do you have in store for the Wii version?
PT: In a word – lots.
NL: Will the famous commentary return? It wouldn't be NBA Jam without "he's on fire!"
PT: You’re absolutely right – it wouldn’t be NBA JAM without Tim Kitzrow on board. So Yes! Tim is on board, and I’m happy to say that he’s sounding better than ever. Tim is, in my humble opinion, the best arcade sports video game commentator of all time – ever!
One quick story about Tim – he is more than just a hired gun for NBA JAM. When he came up to Vancouver for a recording session a few weeks ago, the first thing he wanted to do before he even got in the booth was play and watch JAM to see how the game was coming along, and get a feel for the vibe the game was giving off. The second day of the recording session, Tim comes into the office with a stack of notes – he had been up most of the night before writing lines in his hotel room based off of what he saw when he played JAM the day before. It’s been awesome to have him onboard, and you just know that he’s going to sound awesome!
NL: Will gamers be able to play each other online?
PT: We haven’t made a final decision regarding online play at this point in time.
NL: Are there any plans to bring the NBA Jam series to the DS?
PT: Our focus at the moment is 100% on the Wii.
NL: Is there anything else you want our readers to know about the game?
PT: I want to say thanks to everyone that has taken the time to go to our website and vote on the rosters, joined our facebook site or follow us on twitter. Your support, passion, enthusiasm, expectations for NBA JAM have really meant a lot to everyone involved in making the game, and has really generated a lot of buzz. Thanks again!
We'd like to thank Pete Trenouth for taking the time to answer our questions, and Alain Quinto for arranging everything. James Newton contributed to this interview.