Name: RapJam Vol 1
Region Reviewed: NTSC
Year of Release: 1995
Y’know, like…How Def Jam Vendetta was super awesome and encouraged me to actually buy a PlayStation 2!? Yeah, good times. Well, imagine if they did a sports-based (pro-wrestling is a real sport, obviously) title back in the days when Hip Hop was breaking through to the mainstream like never before and they took those well-known faces and adapted them into a video game for a popular system…Obviously, if DJV became the rule, there was an exception way before it.
People, let’s talk about Rap Jam Volume 1 on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, shall we?
I know what you’re thinking. It’ll be one of two things, one? Olly023, I’ve played Rap Jam and dear Christ why are you doing this to yourself!? Or two; what on Uranus is a Rap Jam, soldier!? All these questions shall be answered in good time, just read on…
Back in 1995, Motown Games took one hard look at the NBA Jam phenomenon and thought: “let’s get in on some’a this action!” Obviously a wise choice. Why not clone one of the most playable arcade experiences ever created, that’s equally adored amongst non-sports fans as it is with basketball fanatics the world over…Again, much sense. Alas, where Motown Games failed was making pretty much the worst possible clone, erm, possible.
For those of you out there who don’t know much about Motown Games (or Motown Software, whatever they wanna be called), they released two SNES games in their extremely short lifespan. Dedicated to creating video games explicitly marketed to an African-American audience, with said games not making it much further than the States themselves (thankfully), they obviously never really cared too much for the audience they marketed for, as both Bebe’s Kids and Rap Jam: Volume One are considered two of the worst SNES games ever made. Ouch.
Anyway, down to it. Rap Jam: Volume One (oh yeah, there was no Volume Two) is a poor-man’s NBA Jam featuring real-life rappers of the period. We’re talking the likes of Public Enemy, Naughty By Nature, Onyx and even Queen Latifah makes an appearance just to level the uneven play field of male-to-female ratio. That’s right kids, before she starred in crappy remakes of French action-comedies she was a Hip Hop star. Let’s be honest, who wouldn’t wanna play some street-rules hoops with the Warren G? Regulate!
Alas, once it’s fired up is when it starts to go wrong. From the standard and decidedly muddy looped beat playing through the SNES’ soundchip it only gets worse. Character selection greets you with ugly looking renditions of the rappers/groups the player is able to choose from, with portraits much more suitable the generation previous. Plus, since when was Coolio yellow?! Ugh…
If you manage to make it past the character select, you’ll find there is apparently a game. I say a game, I mean a feeble cash-in attempt that mildly resembles what an executive somewhere in a giant tower sat on a pile of dead presidents figures is purely acceptable as one. So, y’know. Game in name only. If at all.
Playability? Hah, you wish. If you love controls that are an absolute mockery, an entirely broken engine and so much poor rinse-repeat formula that would make you take back any bad word you’d ever said about Superman 64, well, then here you go. Seriously. I’m not joking. It really is utter cack. You’ll soon notice that the game controls you, not vice-versa. Because, hey, you didn’t really want to b-ball with that guy anyway, so have a different player. Oh, you want to score? Don’t be silly, get into a lame fight instead with terrible hit detection. It’s everything you need. Not to mention, it’s slow and unresponsive when you do get it to semi-work anyway. That’s if you can get it to do as it’s told at all. If this doesn’t bring rage to a gamer, it’ll bring tears of utter distress. Quality control? Motown are like: psht to that ish!
Obviously, being proper 'street' and what not, it's set on 'street' courts with 'street' rules. Basically, fisticuffs and no fouls. Typically a win, but here it's all yawn...
Graphically, it’s abysmal. I already mentioned the ugly portraits, but the main game itself is even worse. By a big margin, no less. As why not? It was already a trainwreck from the start-up, so it may as well go down in an inferno of fail. Seriously, look at those screenshots. Go on, tell me it looks like a SNES game. No, it doesn’t. Don’t be a fool. It barely looks like the most dog-end DOS game. Utterly disgusting. Small, skinny, unrecognisable sprites and dark, dull backgrounds. Although, when you get phat Caddy’s the most colourful thing on screen, at least you fill your exploitation quota, amirite?
Musically…? Oh hell, for a game that stars freakin’ Public Enemy this game features NO DARN MUSIC while you play!!! Yeah, you have that crappy beat I mentioned in the menu or whatever, but that’s it. That’s all you got. Enjoy it while it lasts, bro. Rugs about to be pulled. This aint no White Men Can’t Jump situation. You’d think Motown (or Mandingo Entertainment (talk of exploitation) or 64WD Creation or whoever the hell wants to take responsibility for this mess) would have had the foresight to think: “Hmm, if this is how we’re marketing it, perhaps some hot beats would be worthwhile on the soundtrack?” N’AH! Kids wont want that. The music is obviously the least important part of Hip Hop culture anyway. SO STUPID. I HATE IT. The sound effects that are present are uninspired stock. Nothing to hear here, move along…
I’m the kind of guy who attempts to find redeeming factors in any game, no matter how turgid. Unfortunately this is one title that I can’t honestly bring myself to sing the praises of in any aspect, no matter how remote. If you can stomach this title for more than two minutes, a life achievement should either be unlocked, or you should simply get your head checked. I’d be surprised if there wasn’t a jump in youth depression upon the release of this. That’s its longevity, that’s its lasting legacy. Painful memories. Video game equivalents of war flashbacks. Oh, there is two modes of play though! Yeah, no one cares. They both suck and don’t change up the awful play-style at all so screw it.
The fact I lived the majority of my life without any knowledge of Rap Jam Volume One shows signs that there were once simpler, happier times. For now, I have tasted it. But, I had to do it. When I heard there was once a proto-NBA Street with a proto-Def Jam Vendetta twist, I was gonna jump all over that. Hook, line, sinker. Yet, now it’s been played (and for far too long that it needed to be, because unfortunately I’m a tad masochistic that way) I feel it’s my duty to warn off any weary travellers of the 16-bit days looking to find a playable alternative to NBA Jam TE. It may exist, but not here. Not even slightly. Rap Jam Volume One is a travesty and very possibly the single-worst video game I have ever played in the history of ever. To play it, is to lose part of your soul. Nothing can repair the damage left behind from this wrecking ball of bad design.
F**k Rap Jam Volume One. Seriously, F**K Rap Jam Volume One!
Verdict:- Worse than the worst cash-in you can think of, makes Shaq-Fu look like the greatest game ever made...Because this is the worst game I have ever played and must be avoided at all costs.
Second Opinion:- Transbot will admit that he had never played this before, he now wishes he still hadn't because oh dear god NO!
This is a terrible game in all departments, animation, sound, options, presentation, the blatant racism and obvious cash in on the basketball scene of the time all make up one of the worst experiences ever.
Never play this, just trust us. I would also give this a Zero however it does load and have graphics and sound and can actually play due to a game engine so it get's the lowest score this robot will ever give.
Transbot Scores:- 1 out of 10