Many sports games are usually followed by at least yearly but unimproved sequels (like FIFA or NHL). NBA Jam is the first part of such a series, so I chose this one for the sake of originality.
NBA Jam simulates (you guessed it, did you?) ghetto sport #1: basketball. To make things clearer the teams are reduced to 2 players, so it's more like streetball than basketball. You can choose from the original NBA-teams, represented by their best (= best known) 2 men. Up to 4 human players can compete simultaneously. In solo games the computer takes control of your partner, but you can still request him passing or throwing. You can also select to always control the player who has the ball or to team up with a friend. Difficulty level and length of a game can be set as well.
Controls are not that hard to learn as they basically consist of 3 buttons: when attacking 'Throw', 'Pass' and 'Turbo' (lets you run faster) and when defending 'Steal', 'Turbo' and 'Push' (or 'Rebound/Block' under the basket).
There are practically no rules and you can attack your opponent really hard. Contrary to the very strict rules of the real NBA ('Don't touch your opponent!') you have to defend very aggressively - there are no fouls. The ball can't get out of bounds because it bounces back from an invisible wall so gameplay isn't unnecessarily interrupted.
The game is far from boring: There are hardly more than a few seconds between scores. This (IMHO) quite boring sport has been made more interesting by lots of spectacular dunks, burning balls (btw, who set them on fire?) and shattering baskets. These and similar actions look grafically quite well but are not breathtaking. A commentator is constantly repeating 'Yes!', 'Jam it!', 'Two points!'...
That's all OK until you realise that there's no league or at least a tournament implemented. The only other option besides a friendly is a personal highscore-mode. But there you don't have any opponents but rather you just try to improve your statistics. Oh well...
This fact is seriously hampering gameplay because long-term motivation will surely drop much quicker without these career-type options. And that's really sad and totally incomprehensible as NBA Jam is actually a good game.