It’s crazy to think that Midway, the company that blew up in 1992 with their ultra-controversial fighting game Mortal Kombat, was the same company that perfected the two-on-two arcade-style basketball game genre with NBA Jam, all with an official NBA license! The premise of the game is simple: two representatives from every team in the National Basketball Association battle head-to-head in a game that rewarded hot hands (sinking three shots in succession meant you were “on fire,” signified by the basketball smoking and glowing whenever you touched it, with the net burning to a crisp when you sunk another shot) and huge dunks—the over-the-top animations for the many dunks in the game were worth the quarters you stacked up to play. Adding elements like “big head mode” made the game unique to other sports simulations, and by bringing out the biggest stars from each team, it had infinite replay value for NBA diehards at the time. No wonder it was deemed the highest-earning arcade game in 1994; it was just that damn fun. When you add in memorable shouts of “he’s on fire!” and “boom-shaka-laka!” from in-game announcer Tim Kitzrow during key moments and you have one of the most memorable sports video game experiences ever. —khal