Frequently Asked Questions

I've played NBA Hangtime, but what's this "Maximum" thing? I've never seen it.
NBA Maximum Hangtime was a chipset upgrade that Midway sent out in late 1996 as a combination bug fix/game enhancement. NBA Hangtime came out in the spring of 1996, so by that fall, the new NBA season was starting up but the game was a bit old. Maximum was a way to tweak and extend the life of the coin-op product, which would now have to compete with the home versions of the spring game. In fact, the Maximum part of Hangtime is nothing more than a new marquee and two replacement chips for the PCB, which take all of two minutes to install. Wham--instant "new" game for arcade operators, with no expense to them. It was a great goodwill business move as well as way to offer something new to the loyal players. Whether this strategy worked or not is up for debate; I have not seen too many Maximums out in the wild (last place: the Namco arcade at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas).

What are the differences between NBA Hangtime and NBA Maximum Hangtime?
Subtle but numerous:

  • New rosters for 1997 season including player trades (Anthony Mason is on Charlotte while Larry Johnson is on the Knicks) and college rookies (including Allen Iverson, Stephon Marbury, Ray Allen, Eric Dampier, and Marcus Camby)
  • Hot spots. Each player has a hidden spot on the court where they are more accurate. You'll know you're on it when a pulsing circle appears at your feet and you hear a sound effect from one of Turmell's favorite games, Robotron: 2084. The announcer usually mentions the hot spot as well.
  • Max has no trivia contest
  • There's no code for the outdoor court. Simply to press left or right on the joystick during "Tonights Matchup" to choose Stadium or Outdoor.
  • Computer players will sometimes start a game heated up but one shot away from being on fire. If the shot they make is an alley oop or a double dunk, they'll be on Team Fire. This is extremely nasty.

    Okay...for that matter, what are the differences between NBA Hangtime and NBA Jam Tournament Edition?

  • All-new graphics engine running at 60 frames per second--way overkill but sure is purty
  • Lean-in and fade-away jump shots
  • The spin move (tab Turbo twice)
  • Double dunks (some say triple dunks are possible, too) (yep, alley-oops were in Jam TE)
  • Outdoor court
  • Updated rosters and new secret characters

    Where's Michael Jordan? Where's Shaquille O'Neal? Where's Charles Barkley?
    Making money while they sleep, I'd expect. As to why they're not in Hangtime, each of those stars sets his own licensing fee, which must be paid if you want to use their image and name in a game. Jordan has never appeared in the Midway games because his fee has always been sky-high (why do you think they call him Air?). Shaq and Chuck were hot stuff in '96, so they followed Jordan's lead and upped their fees. As a result, neither guy made it into the game because Midway chose not to spend their money on a handful of players. (Both returned for NBA Showtime.)

    Do all the original Hangtime codes work on Maximum Hangtime?
    Most do. A few have been updated or altered, usually for the better. For instance, the Outdoor Court is now easier to select. But pretty much all of the secret characters work fine in the upgrade.

    Is Maximum Hangtime the same as the console and PC versions of Hangtime?
    No. Maximum is available only in arcades. However, the Max roster updates were effected in the console versions.

    Are all the Hangtime home versions the same?
    Gameplay-wise, yes, but some of the secret codes are different. For instance, my character is in the arcade, Nintendo 64, and PlayStation releases of Hangtime, but not in the Genesis, Super Nintendo, or PC versions. Some of the changes depend on who did the development, and whether or not they wanted to put themselves in as characters in favor of lesser-known guys from the arcade (like me). FunCom developed the 16-bit versions and the N64 cart; High Voltage did the PC, and Midway themselves did the PlayStation disc.

    What about the one for Sega CD?
    Different game altogether. That's ESPN NBA Hangtime '95 by Sony Imagesoft. It's pretty good--or was for its time, anyway--but has no relation to the Midway game.

    What's the proper name for the game--NBA Hangtime or NBA Hang Time?
    I'm an editor--it's my job to worry about this stuff--so I asked Mark Turmell once. It's one word, even though the original logo looks like it should be two.

    What's the proper name for the sequel--NBA Maximum Hangtime, Maximum NBA Hangtime, or just Maximum Hangtime?
    That's a tricky one, since it's referred to as all three of those as different points. The logo/marquee looks like NBA Maximum Hangtime, so that's what most people call it (including me) when they're referring to it "for the record," such as on the Killer List of Video Games. However, there is one screen in the attract mode where it's listed as text, and that says (on two lines) Maximum NBA Hangtime. I still have not figured out which is truly correct, but I go with what I see on the logo most often.

    How come I can cream the computer when I'm on fire, be up by 15...and then not be able to hold the lead or even keep a wide gap for more than a minute or so?
    Because Mark Turmell programmed the computer to know when it's getting its ass kicked, and to cheat if necessary to even things up. If you can compensate for that and hold your lead, you got skillz.

    How are you supposed to read the fractional Rebound statistic at halftime and at the end of the game?
    The second number is the number of rebounds you've earned. The first number is the number of those rebounds that you were able to convert to baskets. So "2/7" would mean two buckets from seven boards.

    If I wanted to buy my own Hangtime machine, what should I do?
    First, talk your wife into it. Second, make room. Third, get an old NBA Jam machine (only a few zillion exist) and buy the Hangtime chipset and marquee seperately. Shop around and you can find a Jam cabinet for $250-$300--less if you don't care how pretty it looks. The best place to get arcade games is at an auction; check or The Basement Arcade for a list and for some results of old auctions so you know how much you can expect to pay. Also, read up on the hobby in and The four-player JAMMA hardware is very versatile and will run NBA Jam, NBA Jam TE, Open Ice, both Hangtimes, the NFL Blitz games, NBA Showtime, and many other joystick-and-three-buttons arcade games built to the JAMMA standard without any modification--it's truly plug and play, so long as you plug in all the proper parts for each game. I got my Maximum Hangtime PCB and marquee for about $65 on eBay. There are colorful cabinets for NBA Hangtime out there, but no dedicated Maximum Hangtime cabinets were made.

    Where do you hook up the controls for player 3 and player 4 on the Hangtime PCB?
    Player 3's pins are labeled "P12" on the PCB, in the corner; Player 4 is "P11," just to the left of P12. If you have a Midway 4-player cabinet (Jam, Hangtime, Showtime, Open Ice, Blitz 99 or a SportsStation rig) with the original wiring intact, you should be able to simply plug and play. However, make sure all the pins are lined up correctly; once, I was a pin off, and all the controls for one of the players was wacky--up was Shoot, down was right, etc. You won't break it, but you won't have much fun either (unless you really, really suck and need an edge against the other human players).

    Tell me some esoteric Hangtime trivia so I can impress my geeky friends.

  • You can see Mark Turmell, Sal Divita, and other members of the Midway crew in the crowd. Roger Sharpe, Hangtime's executive producer and author of the seminal work Pinball!, is the coach in the blue shirt.
  • A pre-release version of Hangtime featured a shattering backboard, like the original Jam did, but the NBA frowned upon it and it was taken out.
  • The cheerleaders' names are Mary Jane Lee and Kim Keller.

    How the hell did you get to be a secret character, anyway?
    I was writing the video game column for SLAM magazine as a sideline to my day job at Guitar World (the same company owned both mags). I had already interviewed Turmell for two earlier articles, and he knew I'd been a fan of him ever since I'd heard this story about a 17-year-old kid who sold Apple II and Atari 2600 games to major publishers. He politely endures my hero worship to this day. In the course of the Hangtime preview interview with Mark nd Sal, I had to ask some of the same questions I'd asked in the past, including "How do you choose who will be the secret characters?" Mark said that in addition to the Midway team and staffers, this time they were adding friends and people who worked in the basketball industry but never got to show their faces--people like announcers and writers. When Mark asked if I'd like to be a character in Hangtime, I thought he was kidding, so I said, "Sure, that would be great." When he told me I'd have to get them photos in a few days because they were on a tight deadline, I realized they weren't joking. So, the short version is because they asked and I accepted. :) Somewhere around here I have the interview tape, so maybe I'll sample a little of it.

    What's with the bunny ears?
    Game companies regularly send out "tchotchkes"--little trinkets to promote new releases. JVC produced a Sega CD game called Keio Flying Squadron that starred a girl who wore a Playboy bunny-style outfit and rode around on a dragon, smiting evil. I got the ears in the mail and commented on them to my rep at the company, who said she wanted a photo of me in them, because she was collecting pictures of all the game writers wearing the ears. So I actually sent one--and nobody else did. Then one of the online publications I was writing for asked me for a personal photo, requesting that it not be serious or pretentious. I had that shot handy and it certainly fit their criteria. So now everyone who read my writing knew about the ears.

    When Mark and Sal invited me to be in Hangtime, I immediately told my wife, who said, "Great! Are you going to wear the bunny ears?" I was absolutely appalled--this was, after all, a geek's dream, and I was not going to screw it up with some stupid inside joke! But the next person I told said the same thing--"Cool! You're gonna wear the ears, right?" And it started to make sense--without the ears, my wife said, I'd just be an unknown geek with glasses that nobody would remember. So I called Midway and asked permission. They said absolutely, because it was something they'd have in their game that Acclaim (who was developing the competing coin-op NBA Jam Extreme at the time) would not--something fun for players to see only in Hangtime. Plus, my choice was tame compared to theirs--aliens, chickens, cows, wizards, and all those wild Halloween masks. So the bunny ears started as an in-joke and grew into...well, maybe not a legend, but at least a suspicious fable.

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