Complete each round successfully, and you win the game...and that's pretty much the entire game in a nutshell to be honest. Unlike most other arcade-to-home conversions of the era (Crazy Taxi, Virtua Tennis, Virtua Fighter 3tb et al), Sports Jam doesn't really add much bespoke content to the mix and so the replay value is somewhat limited...especially when you take into consideration that a lot of the 'events' on offer here actually only last for around a (Swatch-sponsored) minute and a half each, or a set number of 'tries.'
The graphics and animation are really quite impressive and I can't help but feel that if Sega had taken any one of the engines employed for these mini games and poured more resources into it, they could have been great fully-fledged games in their own right - the golf sections in particular look pretty darn good, and feature some lovely picture-in-picture camera shots and great scenery. If they'd taken this and turned it into a full-blown arcade golf game, then the Dreamcast could have had yet another ace up it's sleeve in the sports genre. As it is, Sports Jam is little more than a great-looking, nice sounding curiosity that will pass half an hour or so, but won't see many players coming back for more once the initial spectacle of the visuals has worn off. There is one final aspect of the game I really do want to touch on though - and it is the reason for this post's somewhat strange title: the 'host.' Here he is:
Albert Wesker-esque sports presenter appears on the screen and introduces each round of the game. With his odd Southern drawl and hideous gap-toothed grimace, he invites you to choose your category and announces the action during the event. Once you pass the first challenge though, things start getting even more bizarre - his hair develops definite horns and the colour scheme changes to a pallid green...being further replaced by a red tinge after the next stage.
Finally, this abominable denizen of the uncanny valley appears to be seated in a darkened theatre, where his chair suddenly transforms into a massive trophy once he stands up. The question needs to be asked: is Sports Jam a Dantean metaphor for a trip into the very depths of Hell itself, with Beelzebub taunting your every failure and inviting you to travel deeper into his otherworldly lair? The evidence strongly suggests so. But then, I could - once again - be reading way too much into this. Look at the facts though: his hair growing into horns and his shiny red smoking jacket bear all the classic hallmarks of a modern spin on Lucifer - his appearance at first seems as plain and ordinary as you could hope, but upon closer inspection everything just seems a little 'off.' To use an old adage - the Devil is in the detail. And to use another (well, a line from The Usual Suspects to be honest), the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled, was to convince the world he doesn't exist. Except in Sports Jam for the Dreamcast...