When it comes down to high profile arcade sports titles from the early 90’s that received commercial success in America; one of the few titles that instantly comes to mind is the original NBA Jam game from 1993. The original NBA Jam title was developed and published by Midway with the gameplay being influenced by the Arch Rivals title from 1989. NBA Jam along with the Tournament Edition from ‘94 had featured 2 on 2 gameplay along with detailed character sprites and cartoonish gameplay. NBA Jam along with the Tournament was one of the basketball games to feature up to date rosters of every team at the time. One of the biggest downsides of the first two NBA Jam games was the exclusion of Michael Jordan; who had just made his return to basketball in 1993. The main reason for Michael Jordan’s exclusion in the NBA Jam titles from ‘93-‘94 was due to licensing issues. Also, Shaquille O’Neal was not available in console ports of NBA Jam due to licensing issues as well. While people never had the opportunity to play as Michael Jordan in NBA Jam they had access to almost every other major player in the league between ‘93-‘94.
Aside from the NBA Live series which was more grounded and realistic in terms of gameplay NBA Jam along with its sequels was among the best things that people had prior to the start of the 2K series in 1999. To say that NBA Jam was the best arcade sports game of the 90’s is debatable; since it falls under the sub-genre of basketball as it relates to sports in general. Those who are fans of football would probably go on record and argue that NFL Blitz from ‘97 was the best arcade sports title from the 90’s due to the amount of commercial success it had. It always seemed like Midway was much better at developing sports games that were more fun opposed to fighting titles; aside from the Mortal Kombat games from ‘92-‘95. While NBA Jam may not be a technical masterpiece it did appeal to a wide audience of casual gamers and is still remembered fondly as a cult classic.