If you're like me, you felt at once excited and disappointed upon seeing EA Sports' announcement that it was bringing back NBA Jam. I was elated that one of my all-time favorite sports games was being brought into the 21st century, but as someone who doesn't own a Wii, I was hoping against hope that EA would eventually bring the NBA Jam revival to the PS3 and 360. While we've seen rumors of an HD console version before, there hasn't been any official confirmation from EA of its existence ... until now.
This morning, EA Sports announced that a scaled-back downloadable version of NBA Jam will be bundled with every new copy of NBA Elite 11, the publisher's reboot of its long-running basketball simulation franchise formerly known as NBA Live. Just as with the EA Sports Online Pass, new copies of the game will include a one-time-use code redeemable for the game. Buying NBA Elite 11 will be the only way to get NBA Jam in high definition -- EA won't be selling the game on the PlayStation Store or Xbox Live Marketplace, which makes its inclusion in NBA Elite 11 a powerful incentive to buy the game.
And playing NBA Jam on the Wii will still be the only way to get the full experience, since the PS3/360 version will only come with three modes: Play Now, Classic Campaign (the traditional ladder-style tournament), and four-player Online Play (which remains unconfirmed for the Wii version, with only two months to go before launch). This keeps the all-new Remix Tour mode -- which includes boss battles against NBA legends such as Magic Johnson and comprises "about 20 hours of gameplay," according to EA Sports marketing VP Jordan Edelstein -- exclusive to the Wii version.
It's really a devilishly clever stroke on EA's part, when you think about it: many of the folks who want to play NBA Jam were likely planning on holding out for a PS3/360 version -- I know I was -- and now, they'll only be able to get it by spending $60 on NBA Elite 11, which comes out on October 5th (the same day that NBA Jam launches for the Wii). As it stood, EA had a long way to go in trying to convince gamers that Elite was worth checking out, and now, nostalgia will do much of that work for them. They're basically pulling a Crackdown, with NBA Jam playing the part of the Halo 3 beta.
So what say you, readers? Whether or not you care about simulation basketball and NBA Elite 11, are you willing to pay $59.99 in order to play a somewhat gimped version of NBA Jam in HD (and with online play on consoles that actually facilitate it)?