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Classic basketball video game Barkley Shut Up and Jam! turns 20 years old

Cover art.
Cover art.
NBA, Accolade.

The mid-1990's were a magical time.

It was the Attitude Era; somewhat literally, in the case of the WWF (pardon, that would be WWE now), which operated at a fever pitch as superstars like Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock enjoyed a pro-wrestling heyday. The effect could be seen in other areas, too, such as video gaming -- where the younger company Sega was gaining ground on mainstay Nintendo, with its cool-looking hardware and oh-so-edgy protagonists.

Bright colors ruled the marketing scene, and everything had to be EXTREME! This in-your-face outlook was, perhaps, nowhere more obvious than in the title of a now-cult-classic basketball game that was released on 16-bit systems in North America in June of 1994: Barkley Shut Up and Jam!

Charles Barkley was in the limelight of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He had just won the MVP award the previous season, although his Suns were beaten in the championship that year by Michael Jordan's Bulls. Nonetheless, Jordan had just retired, and various players were racing to the top of the new food chain of marketable personalities.

And if there was ever a marketable personality from the NBA, surely Barkley was it, with his legit skills, brash ways, and in-your-face dunks. Considering the cultural context of the era, and the widespread success of spiritual ascendant NBA Jam, the joining of Barkley with his own video game was a no-brainer.

At the very least, it was/is better than Shaq Fu.

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Eric Bailey blogs at NintendoLegend.com, where he is reviewing every American-released NES video game. He also serves as Editor-In-Chief of retro gaming features site 1MoreCastle.com, and can be followed on Twitter @Nintendo_Legend.