If you’ve been following the retro gaming announcement taking place at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), you know that Arcade 1Up has been making some huge announcements. They’re releasing at least four new 3/4 scale arcade cabinets in 2019 and have hinted more could be announced. The new cabinets include Mortal Combat, Golden Tee, Final Fight and Space Invaders. These alone are something to get excited about, but a photo that was leaked it was has everyone buzzing about Arcade 1Up’s prospects moving forward.
In this photo taken at CES at the Arcade 1up booth, you can spot a prototype NBA Jam Cabinet. At this time, virtually nothing is known about this cabinet or what other games may be bundled in with it, but I can certainly speculate. The fact that Arcade 1Up has secured the licensing rights to another Midway arcade hit, Mortal Kombat it would make sense if another sports classic produced by them was included. The obvious choice would be NFL Blitz. A sports-adjacent title, Midway’s WWF Wrestlemania would also seem to be a good fit for the NBA Jam cabinet.
More likely, we would expect to see NBA Jam and NBA Jam Tournament Edition included in this cabinet with the potential to have four control sticks built in as a compromise to having fewer games than what is usually expected out of these 3/4 scale cabinets. I would expect the NFL Blitz property carries enough nostalgia points in peoples mind to sell a cabinet itself. One thing that will be interesting to watch as we learn more about the NBA Jam cabinet is how they handle the likeness rights of the roster of players. Typically older sports games aren’t remade due to this issue. For example, Tecmo Bowl was recently released on the Nintendo Switch’s NES online service and player names were removed. Rather than showing names, players are just differentiated by their number. This technique would simply be impossible for NBA Jam. As I’m sure you’re aware, Jam’s team select screen features the portraits of each teams players. Arcade 1Up is known for authentically recreating games’ arcade experience. Fundamentally reworking the game’s code to get around complicated licensing issues would be a huge disservice to the fans and a tragedy to their mission.
It’s no secret that I’m a huge NBA Jam fan. Back in 2018, we conducted an interview with Reyan Ali, the author of the soon to be released book NBA Jam The Book. In the book, Ali highlights the development of this classic game. We learned a lot talking with him about his book. For more insight into the development check out the article.
I have faith that they will handle this beloved title with the utmost respect and care that this classic deserves. When this is officially announced we will definitely be the first to let you know. Arcade 1Up is on FIRE!
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