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Plugged In

Politicians take their squabbles to court in ‘NBA Jam’

Plugged In

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NBA Jam

Who's got a better crossover, Barack Obama or Sarah Palin?

Though in real life it's no contest (nothing against former sports reporter Palin, but the prez has scrimmaged with LeBron,
for crying out loud), gamers can decide for themselves by playing as a
committee's worth of famous politicians in the newly released Wii
slamfest, NBA Jam.

Seeing as how the game is all about over-the-top arcade sports hijinks, the big cheese gets a few perks, naturally.

"Since President Obama is a baller, we kind of blew it out even further," creative director Trey Smith told USA Today. "When you dunk with him, he has some special animations and some special dunks."

Joining Obama on the Dem side of the ball are VP Joe Biden, former
president Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. They
match up against the Republican All-Stars of Palin, Senator John
McCain, former president George W. Bush and former VP Dick Cheney. Not
sure who's coaching, but I'd bet my 'Impeach Nixon' button on Jimmy
Carter and Karl Rove.

Accessing these characters is substantially trickier than just
poking a hole next to their name in an election booth, however. You'll
have to earn unlock codes by completing challenges in the game,
although we imagine the codes will soon find their way onto every video
game cheat code site from D.C. to Anchorage over the next few weeks.

The pols are just a few of the celebrities featured in the game,
which lets gamers shoot, pass and slam with two-man squads drawn from
current NBA teams. Legendary players like Larry Bird and Magic Johnson
also appear as bosses.

First released in arcades in 1993, the original NBA Jam was a big
hit, spawning a sequel and smoothly transitioning to home consoles.
Eventually it fell off the map, but publisher EA picked up the property
when longtime rights-holder Midway folded. They've since brought on
original designer Mark Turmell to consult and even hired original
announcer Tim Kitzrow to re-record his famous sayings
("Boom-shaka-laka!") for the reboot, hoping to cash-in on the
franchise's nostalgic fanbase.

And that fanbase better show up, for EA's sake. NBA Jam was
initially intended to complement EA's other high-profile b-ball game,
the simulation-oriented NBA Elite 11, but in a stunning move, the game
was put on indefinite delay a mere week before releasing. Analysts believe
the move could cost EA up to $60 million in revenue and should boost
the performance of both Jam and competing title NBA 2K11, which is
already receiving glowing praise from critics.

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