Michael Jordan looks a lot different today than he did in his prime. Sure, he’s still probably wearing Hanes underwear and a weirdly baggy shirt and some Nikes, but your favorite Washington Wizard of all-time has certainly gone through changes as time comes for us all.
That’s certainly the case in video games, where Jordan’s pixels have shifted significantly since he first took flight back in the 1980s. Hoops Hype put together every one of Jordan’s video game appearances, from battling Larry Bird to space aliens in Space Jam and into the modern NBA 2K era.
The evolution is pretty striking, both in overall game quality and how the athletes likenesses are captured over the years. Here’s Jordan’s first video game appearance in 1988’s Jordan vs. Bird: One On One.
I do love how, even back then, Nike and the Jumpan logo had a prominent place on the baseline. So good.
Jordan doesn’t start to take on any defining characteristics until Michael Jordan In Flight, a 1992 DOS-based video game that only featured Jordan and no other NBA players or teams. Look at this swanky 3-D technology. The future is now!
Things get pretty blocky or Jordan and the NBA in the early 2000s. It’s a very angular Jordan you’ll see in the N64 era, but they eventually get it right in the later console generations. The video takes us all the way up to present time, the latest example being His Airness in NBA 2K17.
That’s a lot more like Jordan, and much smoother gameplay to match. I’d definitely love to see 3-D technology come back, but 2K knows what it’s doing with player profiles these days. It’s often more lifelike than Cavaliers fans would like to admit.