Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City is a 2D action platformer developed and published in North America by Electronic Arts for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in November 1994. It was later published in Europe by Ocean in 1995. Players control Michael Jordan as he embarks on a quest to rescue fellow basketball players from Dr. Maximus Cranium using a wide variety of basketballs as weapons. The game also includes product placements for the Wheaties and Gatorade brands, both of which have items the player can pick up to restore health.
The game is split up into four main areas (Holding Cells, Laboratory, Factory, and an amusement park named Riverview), each with their own set of levels and boss fights. The areas also have extra levels in-between them, ranging from a tunnel to a moving train (an auto-scrolling level where players must fight off the paparazzi). The game implements an eleven-digit alphanumeric (minus vowels) password system for keeping track of the player's progress.
Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City plays like a traditional platformer, only slower and more difficult. The D-pad is used to either move left/right, crouch down, climbing up/down ladders, or move up/down certain moving platforms that Michael stands on. The B button is a traditional jump, while the X button is a special "slam jump", which changes the trajectory of basketballs fired (either for clearing out enemies that are too short to be attacked while crouching or for dunking special basketball nets scattered around the level.). Pressing the B button while holding up on the D-pad allows Michael to grab onto pulley objects. Holding down the L button allows Michael to run faster and perform a high, long flip when using the standard jump.
The A button is used to open doors and activate certain switches. Most doors and objects are locked, and require key items (iron, gold, green, red, or yellow) found along the level. Michael can only use one type of key items at a time, which must be switched in the inventory by using the Select button.
Michael can only attack enemies by throwing basketballs at them (by pressing the Y button). Interestingly, he has an infinite repertoire of normal basketballs (which magically appear in his hand the second he throws one). Pressing the Y button will always cause Michael to throw his basketball in a straight line in the direction he's facing. However, pressing the Y button while activating his special "slam jump" causes him to throw his basketball in a downwards trajectory. Basketballs are used for destroying enemies, breaking through walls, and activating switches.
Doors can hold items, basketball coins, or enemies. Some doors hold captives (kidnapped basketball players), which are automatically rescued after giving the player some advice. Some doors can also hold special vortices, which warp the player into special timed bonus rooms when entered.
Along with normal basketballs, Michael can throw special types of basketballs (called "power balls") by collecting special power-ups. However, Michael can only carry a certain amount of power balls (with the exception of the Smoking Earthquake Ball), which is instantly filled when collecting that power ball's power-up. Pressing the R button switches between the different types of basketballs. Each power ball has a unique ability when thrown and when "spiked" (by performing a slam jump).
- Knuckle Ball - White ball (similar in appearance to a baseball) that goes through solid walls and enemies, returning to Michael like a boomerang shortly after (picking up any items it touches). Maximum of eight shots.
- Ice Ball - Blue ball that freezes most enemies into a solid chunk of ice (which shatters after Michael throws another ball at it), which can be used as platforms. Frozen enemies thaw out over time. Spiking an Ice Ball coats part of the floor with a layer of ice, making it slippery to enemies. Maximum of six shots.
- Rebound Ball - Purple ball that bounces around. Spiking a Rebound Ball splits the ball into two bouncing balls. Maximum of six shots.
- Flame Ball - Bright orange ball that deals double damage to enemies. Spiking a Flame Ball creates a trail of flame on the floor. Maximum of five shots.
- Heat-Seeker Ball - Golden ball that tracks down enemies who are within range. Spiking a Heat-Seeker Ball splits the ball into three heat-seeking balls. Maximum of five shots.
- Iron Ball - Black ball that functions like a bowling ball, immediately rolling across the floor to hit enemies. Spiking an Iron Ball causes the ball to explode, dealing a point of damage to all enemies on the screen. Maximum of three shots.
- Smoking Earthquake Ball - Red ball that deals massive damage to all enemies on the screen when spiked. There is no maximum amount of shots, and collecting that power-up gives Michael one Smoking Earthquake Ball.
Lives and Energy
At the beginning of the game, Michael starts with a certain number of lives (3-5, depending on the difficulty) and three energy globes (that function as health). Each energy globe represents two units of health (shrinking after one hit of damage and turning blue when empty). Along the way, the player can find items that not only give Michael back his energy, but can increase the number of energy globes.
- Gatorade Bottle - Common item that restores one-half of an energy globe (one unit of health).
- Wheaties Box - Uncommon item that restores one energy globe (two units of health).
- MJ Heart - Rare item that restores three energy globes (six units of health).
- Golden Heart - Very rare item that increases the maximum number of energy globes by one.
- High-Tops - Rare sneakers that give the player temporary invincibility.
If the player depletes all of the energy globes, Michael loses a life and must restart from the previous checkpoint. Along the way, the player will encounter basketball coins, which has similar function to coins in the Mario franchise. A silver coin is worth 1 coin while a gold coin is worth 5 coins. Every 100 coins collected gives the player an extra life. Players can also earn extra lives by collecting rare Golden 23 icons.
Along the way, players encounter special basketball backboards, which have special powers that activate when players slam dunk on them.
- Award Backboard - Trapezoid backboard that drops items or coins.
- Little Bang Backboard - Triangular backboard that cause little damage to all enemies on the screen.
- Big Bang Backboard - Backboard (with a comic-like "boom" shape) that cause massive damage to all enemies on the screen.
- Freeze Backboards - Semi-circular backboard (with the number 23 on it) that temporarily freezes all enemies in place.
- Milestone Backboards - Square backboard (for which the glass shatters when slammed) that acts like a checkpoint.