20th Anniversary of NBA Live

Updated 95/96 Mod & Records for NBA Live 2004

95/96 Season Mod for NBA Live 2004 Cover

Our ongoing 20th Anniversary of NBA Live content isn’t just about retrospectives and feature articles. Whenever I’ve had the chance, I’ve also dusted off the old tools and whipped up some new patches for old favourites. To that end, I have a couple of new releases for NBA Live 2004 today: a new version of my 1995/1996 Season Mod, and a Hall of Fame records update.

The update for the 1996 season mod is fairly substantial, so I’ve called it v2.0. It now features final 1996 season rosters, corrections to jerseys, bodytypes, and skin tones, and some other fixes. There are a few more things I can do with the mod, so look out for another release at some point in the not too distant future. To celebrate the new release, I’ve made up a cover for the mod in the style of the original NBA Live 96 PC box art. I’m quite happy with how it turned out, so I’ve posted it below. For some reflections on the mod, check out this Wayback Wednesday feature.

As you may know, the previous award winners and champions listings in NBA Live 2004’s Hall of Fame only go back to the 1999 season. Since the data is stored in DBF files, I figured it would be simple enough to update. That turned out to be the case, and I’ve updated the records all the way back to the very first BAA/NBA season. I haven’t added all the old All-NBA, All-Defensive, and All-Rookie teams as yet as that’s a huge undertaking, but if I get the time, I might look at doing that and releasing another update.

Download the new releases here:

I’ve also started a release and support thread here in the NBA Live 2004 section of the Forum. If I release any more work for NBA Live 2004, you can be sure I’ll post it there. Enjoy the new updates, and please see below for a few preview images, as well as the 95/96 mod cover. Stay tuned for more 20th Anniversary of NBA Live content!

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20th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 2005 Retrospective

NBA Live 2005 Retrospective

To mark the 20th Anniversary of NBA Live, we’re posting content for every game in the series, including retrospectives, patches, countdowns, and more. Whether you’re a long-time basketball gamer who grew up with the NBA Live series and would like to take a drip down memory lane, or you’ve only recently started playing basketball games and would like to learn a little about what they used to be like, we hope that you enjoy the 20th Anniversary of NBA Live content here on the NLSC!

NBA Live 2005 is considered by many long-time basketball gamers to be the best game in the NBA Live series, or at the very least, somewhere in the top five. Personally, I’d fall into the latter category. It was a great game in its time and definitely a high point in the series, but it has a few issues that are glossed over a little. It’s still capable of providing a fun sim-oriented experience however, and is obviously significant as the first game in the series to feature All-Star Weekend mode. Let’s take a look back at the second game in a trilogy of strong releases for NBA Live.

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Recreating My NBA Live 2004 Dynasty

Kevin Garnett on the Chicago Bulls in NBA Live 2004

My NBA Live 2004 Dynasty with the Chicago Bulls remains one of my absolute favourite experiences with a basketball video game. I maintained a story thread (which you can check out here in our Hall of Fame), and played through the entire first season: every single regular season and Playoff game, on twelve minute quarters. I won the championship, then simulated through most of the second season, ultimately winning back-to-back titles.

In some respects, my NBA Live 2004 Dynasty is something of an oddity for me. I double-dipped with the PC and PlayStation 2 version of NBA Live that year, and because the PS2 version came out first, I ended up starting a Dynasty game on that platform. Even though I did spend a lot of time with the PC version of NBA Live 2004, I was so hooked on my PS2 Dynasty that it’s one of the rare times I spent as much time (if not slightly more) with the console version of NBA Live, at least when a PC version was also available.

Aside from winning 64 games and capturing the NBA championship in the first season, one of the most memorable aspects of my NBA Live 2004 Dynasty was my trade for Kevin Garnett, in a highly unlikely deal. Just for fun, and as part of our celebrations of the 20th Anniversary of NBA Live, I thought that I’d recreate my NBA Live 2004 Dynasty on the PC, and see what kind of results I got upon simulating the games. Let’s take a look!

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20th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 2004 Retrospective

NBA Live 2004 Retrospective

To mark the 20th Anniversary of NBA Live, we’re posting content for every game in the series, including retrospectives, patches, countdowns, and more. Whether you’re a long-time basketball gamer who grew up with the NBA Live series and would like to take a drip down memory lane, or you’ve only recently started playing basketball games and would like to learn a little about what they used to be like, we hope that you enjoy the 20th Anniversary of NBA Live content here on the NLSC!

After NBA Live 2003 was skewed too much towards an arcade style of gameplay, NBA Live 2004 was a very welcome course correction towards being a far more realistic sim game. It was also the beginning of a very solid three year run for NBA Live on the PC, PlayStation 2, and Xbox, before the series began to struggle with its transition to the next generation. NBA Live 2004 was generally well-received in its day, and remains a favourite for many long-time basketball gamers. Read on to find out how the game was a return to form for the NBA Live series.

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Wayback Wednesday: Dynasty Cutscenes in NBA Live 2004

Training Cutscene in NBA Live 2004's Dynasty Mode

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content.

The next game that I’ll be looking back on as part of our ongoing (and belated) 20th Anniversary of NBA Live celebrations is NBA Live 2004. It’s one of my all-time favourite games in the series, and a title that I know a lot of other long-time basketball gamers also remember fondly. As I’ll discuss in my forthcoming retrospective, NBA Live 2004 did a great job in correcting course after NBA Live 2003 was skewed too much towards a casual style, with more realistic gameplay and the inclusion of sliders for the first time in the NBA Live series.

If there’s one thing that most people remember about NBA Live 2004 though, it’s the cutscenes in the newly rebranded Dynasty Mode. Whereas reactions to the “Courtside Comedy” cutscenes in NBA Live 2003 were mixed at best, it seemed like most of us felt that the Dynasty Cutscenes really added to the atmosphere, bringing life to events that were taking place in the menus. Given that it’s such a memorable part of the game, I thought I’d talk a little bit about it, ahead of my full NBA Live 2004 retrospective.

Let’s take a look back…way back…

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20th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 2003 Retrospective

NBA Live 2003 Retrospective

To mark the 20th Anniversary of NBA Live, we’re posting content for every game in the series, including retrospectives, patches, countdowns, and more. Whether you’re a long-time basketball gamer who grew up with the NBA Live series and would like to take a drip down memory lane, or you’ve only recently started playing basketball games and would like to learn a little about what they used to be like, we hope that you enjoy the 20th Anniversary of NBA Live content here on the NLSC!

NBA Live 2003 is neither one of my all-time favourites, nor one of the best games in the NBA Live series. It is, however, a very significant game in the series for a few reasons; some good, some bad. In certain aspects, it made some very important steps forward that ultimately benefitted the series, even to this day. At the same time, it made several missteps, providing a clear lesson in what not to do with a five-on-five, sim-oriented basketball title that most gamers wanted to be as realistic as possible. Having said all that, let’s take a look back at NBA Live 2003.

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Wayback Wednesday: Courtside Comedy in NBA Live 2003

Rasheed Wallace argues with a referee in NBA Live 2003

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content.

Our (belated) 20th Anniversary of NBA Live content is on-going, and next up will be a retrospective of NBA Live 2003. Before we get to that, however, I wanted to profile one of the game’s most notorious features: its “Courtside Comedy” cutscenes. On top of gameplay that wasn’t quite as sim as most basketball gamers would’ve liked, NBA Live 2003 also took a more light-hearted approach to its atmosphere, with several cutscenes involving players joking around and goofing off.

While the comedic cutscenes weren’t universally disliked, I think it’s fair to say that most gamers were not sorry to see them gone in NBA Live 2004. For my part, I can see the humour, and I do have a certain amount of nostalgia for the sheer oddity of them, but they definitely didn’t create the atmosphere that I wanted for NBA Live. Nevertheless, they are fun to look back on, especially because some of them could be truly ridiculous. Ahead of my detailed retrospective of NBA Live 2003, here are some of the most memorable courtside comedy cutscenes.

Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Closure: The Unfinished NBA Live 2002 Franchise

Chris Webber in NBA Live 2002

As I said in my retrospective of NBA Live 2002, it’s a game that holds up a little better than I remembered. For all its flaws, for all the controversy that surrounded it as the first game in the NBA Live series not to be released on PC, it’s a game that I spent a lot of time with. Despite its problems, I can definitely say that I enjoyed playing it back in the day.

In fact, NBA Live 2002 actually produced one of my favourite basketball gaming experiences to date: a Franchise game with the Sacramento Kings. Unfortunately, as much fun as I was having playing through that first season – 82 games, twelve minutes quarters, of course – I never actually completed it. Needless to say, that save file is long gone, so there’s no chance of ever picking it up again. It’s a shame, because I was pretty close to the end of the regular season; close enough that it wouldn’t have hurt too much to sim through to the end, and then just play through the Playoffs.

When I went back and reflected upon my most memorable failed basketball gaming endeavours in The Friday Five, I mentioned that if I still had that save file for NBA Live 2002, I’d probably make some time to finish it off with a combination of simming and playing the remaining games. Well, the save file might be gone, but I still have NBA Live 2002, and an urge to do some fun stuff for the 20th Anniversary of NBA Live. You can probably see where this is going, so let’s not beat around the bush any longer. Join me as I gain some closure and finish what I started, with a helping hand from the simulation function!

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20th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 2002 Retrospective

NBA Live 2002 Retrospective

To mark the 20th Anniversary of NBA Live, we’re posting content for every game in the series, including retrospectives, patches, countdowns, and more. Whether you’re a long-time basketball gamer who grew up with the NBA Live series and would like to take a drip down memory lane, or you’ve only recently started playing basketball games and would like to learn a little about what they used to be like, we hope that you enjoy the 20th Anniversary of NBA Live content here on the NLSC.

NBA Live 2002 was an interesting game for me to revisit. While I did play it a lot when it came out, and I definitely did enjoy my time with it, I also remember it being very frustrating at times. Upon replaying NBA Live 2002 to write this retrospective, I found myself encountering a lot of the issues that bugged me back in the day – and a couple that I’d forgotten about – but I also discovered that it held up a little better than I remembered. Let’s take a look back at one of the more controversial releases in the NBA Live series.

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Wayback Wednesday: Long-Lost NBA Live 2002 Preview Screens

Steve Francis in NBA Live 2002

Welcome to Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! This is a feature where we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content.

The next game that I’ll be looking back at as part of our 20th Anniversary of NBA Live celebrations is NBA Live 2002. As I’ll discuss in more detail in my retrospective, NBA Live 2002 was a controversial release, as it was the first game in the series to be console exclusive and also had its fair share of issues. At the same time, it’s also a game that I managed to have a considerable amount of fun with back in the day, and I kind of have a sentimental attachment to it, as it was the first new NBA Live game that came out after I took over the NLSC in August 2001.

On a recent dig through my archives, I uncovered a collection of NBA Live 2002 preview screenshots that were posted on the NLSC all those years ago, but had since gone missing following a couple of hosting and design changes. I’d previously searched high and low for them, but I just couldn’t seem to find them anywhere. Now that they’ve turned up, I thought it might be fun to exhibit them again, especially with NBA Live 2002 being the next game I’m posting a retrospective on. It’s also a reminder that NBA Live’s graphics have indeed improved over the years.

So, what did basketball video games look like in 2001? Let’s take a look back…way back…

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20th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 2001 Retrospective

NBA Live 2001 Retrospective

To mark the 20th Anniversary of NBA Live, we’re posting content for every game in the series, including retrospectives, patches, countdowns, and more. Whether you’re a long-time basketball gamer who grew up with the NBA Live series and would like to take a drip down memory lane, or you’ve only recently started playing basketball games and would like to learn a little about what they used to be like, we hope that you enjoy the 20th Anniversary of NBA Live content here on the NLSC!

After firmly holding the title of the best NBA game on the market through the 90s, consistently improving from year to year, NBA Live 2001 was one of the first missteps for the NBA Live series. To be clear, I definitely don’t see it as an all-around terrible game, and there are games in the series that are a lot rougher around the edges, but NBA Live 2001 did have some significant problems. Before spending some time with the game in preparation for this retrospective, I would’ve summed it up as “fun, but flawed”. Would I still make that assessment after playing it again? Well, let’s take a look at what’s good, and what’s not so good, in NBA Live 2001.

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20th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 2000 Retrospective

NBA Live 2000 Retrospective

To mark the 20th Anniversary of NBA Live, we’re posting content for every game in the series, including retrospectives, patches, countdowns, and more. Whether you’re a long-time basketball gamer who grew up with the NBA Live series and would like to take a drip down memory lane, or you’ve only recently started playing basketball games and would like to learn a little about what they used to be like, we hope that you enjoy the 20th Anniversary of NBA Live content here on the NLSC!

NBA Live 2000 has long been considered one of the best games in the NBA Live series. It’s the crowning achievement of the original development team, a great all-around release that long-time basketball gamers are rightfully nostalgic for. Of course, looking back on it today, some of its flaws are more apparent, and certain aspects naturally don’t hold up as well, given how far basketball games have come since the late 90s. Nevertheless, I would say that it’s still worthy of the acclaim it receives. Let’s take a look at why many basketball gamers consider NBA Live 2000 to be a classic.

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20th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 99 Retrospective

NBA Live 99 Retrospective

To mark the 20th Anniversary of NBA Live, we’re posting content for every game in the series, including retrospectives, patches, countdowns, and more. Whether you’re a long-time basketball gamer who grew up with the NBA Live series and would like to take a drip down memory lane, or you’ve only recently started playing basketball games and would like to learn a little about what they used to be like, we hope that you enjoy the 20th Anniversary of NBA Live content here on the NLSC!

I’ve mentioned this before in a couple of articles, but NBA Live 99 is a somewhat overlooked and forgotten game. It doesn’t help that it came between NBA Live 98, a game that saw a really big leap from the year before, and NBA Live 2000, one of the best games in the NBA Live series. The lockout that threatened the 1999 season is also a factor, as it meant that NBA Live 99 shipped without updated rosters, in a transitional year for the NBA. On top of that, its cover player, Antoine Walker, has consistently topped “worst cover player” polls that we’ve run. It’s a shame though, because NBA Live 99 is actually a really good game.

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20th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 98 Retrospective

To mark the 20th Anniversary of NBA Live, we’re posting content for every game in the series, including retrospectives, patches, countdowns, and more. Whether you’re a long-time basketball gamer who grew up with the NBA Live series and would like to take a drip down memory lane, or you’ve only recently started playing basketball games and would like to learn a little about what they used to be like, we hope that you enjoy the 20th Anniversary of NBA Live content here on the NLSC!

In one of my Friday Five columns a couple of years ago, I discussed the five biggest leaps in basketball video games, within the span of one production cycle. While I stand by the choices I made when compiling that countdown, I have to admit that it was a mistake not to at least include NBA Live 98 as an honourable mention. When I went back and played NBA Live 98 for this retrospective, I not only recalled a lot of the improvements that were made over NBA Live 97, but also discovered that it was a better game than I remembered. I actually found myself wondering, how could I have underrated this game for so long?

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Wayback Wednesday: The Expansion Draft in NBA Live 96 SNES

Expansion Draft in NBA Live 96 SNES

Welcome to Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! This is a feature where we look back on yesteryear, digging into the archives to indulge in some nostalgia, and in some cases, wonder just what we were thinking. Check in every Wednesday for features and retrospectives on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, reflections on big announcements from years gone by, and other flashback content.

As I discussed in a previous edition of Wayback Wednesday, league expansion can lead to some unique features being added to NBA video games. Such was the case with NBA Live 96, with the league’s expansion across the border into Canada and the addition of the Vancouver Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors. When the Grizzlies and Raptors joined the league twenty years ago, an Expansion Draft was held to help them fill out their rosters, as is the norm. The twenty-seven other teams were able to protect eight players, which needless to say limited the pool of available talent outside of the deeper squads.

In most versions of NBA Live 96, the rosters were updated for the 1996 season with Class of 1995 rookies and offseason transactions. This wasn’t the case with the Super Nintendo version of NBA Live 96, which was missing the rookies (though there were codes to unlock them, along with Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, and some bonus Legends), and also did not account for major moves like the Chicago Bulls’ acquisition of Dennis Rodman, nor the results of the Expansion Draft. What the SNES version of NBA Live 96 did have was the unique feature of the Expansion Draft itself.

Let’s take a look back…way back…

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