I love ’90s arcade games. They are my childhood, and I desperately miss the golden age of arcade sports games. We’ve had resurgences here and there with titles like The Bigs, but it really has never reached the point it was at when NHL Hitz, NFL Blitz, NBA Jam, NBA Showtime, MLB Slugfest, etc. were all alive and kicking.
With that being said, NBA Jam has had some momentum as of late, and so it’s nice to see that continue on here with the voice of NBA Jam, Tim Kitzrow, getting to chat with Austin Creed of UpUpDownDown for 30-plus minutes.
There’s a ton of good stuff in the interview, and I don’t want to spoil it all, but I do want to touch on a couple highlights. First, it’s interesting to hear him say his inspiration for NBA Jam was Marv Albert. I never gave it much thought, but after hearing Kitzrow say that, it makes a lot of sense. The way Kitzrow tries to do short quips very much vibes with Albert of the ’90s — at least as I remember Albert calling NBC games.
He also talks about the origin story behind “Boomshakalaka!” and it’s as dumb as I would expect it to be. It basically goes back to one of the developers/producers misunderstanding a popular song and having Kitzrow say the line randomly. He does it without really questioning it, and boom, history is made. It’s funny how often the most random things end up being genius.
There’s plenty more there, and it goes beyond just NBA Jam. He has stories about NBA Showtime, MLB Slugfest and other games he voiced. There’s also an interesting discussion about simulation commentary in today’s games versus the arcade commentary of the past. A good point is made about how it’s weird that some of today’s games have hundreds of hours of commentary yet still come off feeling more repetitive than NBA Jam’s commentary.
Check it out and let me know what you think. Does it make you want arcade games to make a big comeback in the 2020s?