NBA JAM & Shaq Edition
Arcade 1 Up

Nba Jam Arcade 1 up Review

If you’re a basketball enthusiast from the 90s and youve read some of our other articles its no secret we love NBA Jame and were a fan of classic arcade games. So are you like us? If so then either NBA JAM or the XL version SHAQ EDITION ARCADE 1 UP is an absolute must-have for your gaming collection. Combining the fast-paced action of NBA Jam with the larger-than-life presence of Shaquille O’Neal, this arcade cabinet offers an immersive experience that will transport you back to the golden era of arcade gaming. We want to explore why Shaq was not initially featured in NBA Jam, the differences between NBA Jam and Shaq Edition, the distinct control panel and screen variations, and ultimately, which version emerges as the better choice for gamers seeking a nostalgic thrill.

Why is Shaq not in the NBA Jam?

NBA Jam, originally released in 1993, took the gaming world by storm with its over-the-top gameplay, electrifying dunks, and iconic catchphrases. As you know we have covered both the original NBA Jam on Sega Genesis and NBA Jam T.E on SNES. However, keen-eyed fans may have noticed that the legendary Shaquille O’Neal was notably absent from the original NBA Jam roster. The reason behind this omission stems from licensing issues that arose during the game’s development.

At the time, Shaq had an exclusive licensing agreement with the competing video game publisher, Acclaim. This agreement prevented his inclusion in NBA Jam, which was developed and published by Midway. It’s important to note that NBA Jam featured real NBA players, so securing individual licensing deals with each player proved to be a challenge. Consequently, Shaq’s absence from NBA Jam left fans wondering what it would be like to witness his dominant presence on the virtual basketball court.

What is the difference between NBA Jam and Shaq edition?

NBA Jam and Shaq Edition, while sharing the same arcade cabinet platform, offer distinct gaming experiences that cater to different preferences. Let’s explore the differences between these two editions:

Cabinet Size & Graphics:

While its an XL cabinet it obviously has a larger footprint as you can see from the image to the right its about 6ft7″ in height while the 3/4 cabinets we have come to love sits at around 57″ tall. The other unique difference is the Shaq silluette and signature on the graphics. This can be a hit or miss either way if you love the OG look and feel then stick with the NBA Jam cabinet. Marquee looks amazing in its big bright sizing.

Gamelplay & Player Roster:

Things here are identical when it comes to games and roster. The same player roster pain is felt on both cabinets as Arcade 1Up failed to get all players lisenced. So if you are looking for the original feel stick to the console version or of course hack your cabinet.


Both cabinets share the online with the only real difference being in a lobby you will notice a Shaq logo next to your name indicating you are of course playing on the XL cab.

Control Panel & Screen Differences

To enhance the authenticity and nostalgic charm of the NBA JAM & SHAQ EDITION ARCADE 1 UP cabinet, Arcade 1 Up has paid meticulous attention to the control panel and screen design. But some will likely question how much? The Shaq edition shares the same screen as the Golden Tee 3D which if you weren’t already aware was awful.

Control Panel: The control panel of the NBA JAM & SHAQ EDITION ARCADE 1 UP features a layout that faithfully replicates the arcade controls of the 1990s. The responsive controls ensure that players can fully immerse themselves in the high-energy gameplay. But the XL doesnt gain any additional space which seems like a waste here. It’s taller and easier to address being a 6ft tall male. But 4 players is still cramped and always will be on the Arcade 1 Ups because of its footprint.

Screen: As we mentioned above the screen at certain angles is terrible. The screen size is generous enough to provide an immersive gaming experience while retaining the authentic feel of the arcade era. But really this has to go to the original cabinet. The bigger screen doesn’t count if it suffers from angle bleed in our opinion.

Overall the control panel and screen has to go to the OG Arcade 1 Up cabinet. We’re not going to do the bias review saying its so much better it really isn’t. The screen was a huge disappointment especially for a “pro” cab.

Price & Overall Value

Choosing between NBA Jam and the Shaq Edition Arcade 1 Up ultimately depends on your personal preferences and what you seek in a gaming experience. Both versions offer unique gameplay elements that cater to different tastes. Let’s consider the factors that may influence your decision:

Bigger Size:

You’re essentially paying for a bigger footprint. One piece side panels and a larger control panel and screen. It does bring back the feeling of those 90’s arcade cabinets. Bigger screen does bring out the pixelization remember that.

No Ethernet:

Being wireless only has is definite downsides. Lag can be an issue so be aware that those online games might be more pain than fun. 

Price Point:

Is the bigger footprint worth the extra money? Simply put. No. Theres a lot to love with that feeling of a bigger arcade. But when you’re spending $799 + on the XL especially with its defects. We can get behind it. If it had ethernet, the screen didnt suffer from washed out views then we could get behind it.

NBA Jam He’s On Fire!

So where does that leave us? Well its simple if you can get your hands on the original Arcade 1 Up. Get on it. The price point and value is there. Having the same roster (without mentioning Reggie Miller) its a no brainer.

I remember playing the original Midway cabinet in an airpot in Australia in 1995 and wishing my plane was delayed for another hour. It’s as close as you can get to those memories without having to sacrifice screen looks and appeal.

As Tim Kitzrow would say – BOOMSHAKALA “He’s On Fire!.

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