Basketball Video Games

Wayback Wednesday: Remembering Roster Players

Roster Player dunks the basketball in NBA Live 98

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 issue of missing players isn’t as prominent as it was in the early days of basketball gaming. Video games have become a huge industry, authenticity is the name of the game, and the licensing agreement with the NBA Players Association ensures that all active players are represented in NBA Live and NBA 2K. These days, active players who aren’t included at launch are added via official roster updates, so most of the issues with missing players involve historical players that couldn’t be licensed. Fortunately, as the addition of Steve Nash in the latest NBA 2K17 roster update demonstrates, that doesn’t have to be a permanent problem either.

As I’ve discussed in previous articles, this wasn’t always the case. Due to certain players retaining full control over their likeness rights, and sometimes signing exclusive deals with specific developers, some of the biggest names in basketball have been missing from classic hoops games. In some cases, however, they didn’t leave a vacant spot on their team’s roster. Some games elected to include placeholder players, which many old school basketball gamers came to call Roster Players, after the name they were given in various editions of NBA Live.

Roster Players have an interesting legacy in basketball gaming, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: You’ve Said That Already, We Get It

Kyrie Irving dribbles the basketball in NBA 2K17

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games.

I have a revelation that’ll probably make a lot of music fans in our community chuckle. My favourite band is the Barenaked Ladies. What can I say? I was a teenager in the late 90s, “One Week” was a hit, and to this day, I like the stuff they’re putting out. Anyway, on the same album as “One Week” was another song that charted: “It’s All Been Done“. The lyrics deconstruct and critique clichéd romantic gestures, framed in the context of a relationship that spans across reincarnation (or possibly immortality), literally or metaphorically depending on your interpretation. Its conclusion is right there in the title: it’s all been done.

What’s the point I’m ham-fistedly trying to get at here? Well, when a community or fandom has been around for a while, long-time members are bound to suffer a touch of déjà vu when certain topics arise. The current NLSC Forum has been open since November 2002, so naturally there are going to be some recurring topics. That’s to be expected, and to be fair, they’re often given a new spin. Unfortunately, some of us do get carried away when it comes to certain subjects, and if we’ve been around for a while, chances are other people have grown weary of our beating the same drum over and over again. To borrow BnL’s lyrics, it’s all been done – or rather, said – before.

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Wayback Wednesday: October 26th NBA Debuts

Michael Jordan palms the basketball 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.

The 2017 NBA season has just tipped off, with a couple of big names making their first appearances for new teams, and a few rookies making their league debut. While the start of a new season is a time to look forward to what will hopefully be another great year of basketball, it’s not uncommon to take the opportunity to look back on the debuts of all-time greats. If you look up “On This Date” lists for October and November, you’ll usually see the debuts of some of the biggest names in basketball history among the dates that are noted.

On this particular date – October 26th – Hall of Famers and 1992 Dream Team members Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, John Stockton, and Patrick Ewing all made their NBA debut; Jordan, Barkley, and Stockton in 1984, and Ewing in 1985. For this week’s Wayback Wednesday, I thought I’d share some screenshots of those players’ first appearances in basketball video games, as well as their last appearances as active NBA players. Of course, all four players appear in NBA 2K17, as members of the aforementioned Dream Team.

Let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Basketball Game Features Ahead of Their Time

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.

As I’ve said many times before, when you go back and compare an old basketball video game to more recent releases, it’s obvious how far the genre has come. At the same time, you’ll often be surprised at some of the features and functionality that can be found in vintage basketball games, especially when they’re no longer present in newer titles. Advances in gaming technology have made a lot of our Wishlist items come true, but it’s impressive to see what developers were able to accomplish while working with more primitive tech.

On the other hand, it’s also interesting to see how some really good ideas fell by the wayside. In some cases, it took many years for those features to make it back into one of the basketball games, whereas other features are still absent in today’s releases. For this week’s Friday Five, I’m taking a look at five features that may not necessarily be the pinnacle of technology in basketball gaming, but they’re nevertheless ideas that were ahead of their time. Let’s tip things off with number five.

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Dunk Practice Game by Dr B on Steam Greenlight

Dunk Practice

NLSC Forum Member Dr B has created a Dunk Practice game, which is currently seeking approval for release through Steam Greenlight. The game, which would be available for both PC and Mac, is a single player dunking exhibition, based on the NBA Slam Dunk Contest. A more detailed description of the game is as follows:

Dunk Practice takes the skill and creativity of professional slam dunk competitions and translates them to a dual-analog gamepad and nostalgic graphics. You have the freedom to create any dunk you want by mixing combinations of lobs or off-the-glass tosses with 180s, 360s, windmills, through the legs or behind the back tricks and reverse or tomahawk finishes. Control your dunker’s body rotation with the left analog stick and their arms with the right analog stick in realtime to throw down any dunk you can think up. There are 4 dunkers for you to customize with over 100 million possible combinations of appearance and uniform colors and creative challenges for you to complete and collect medals.

In the interest of supporting the efforts of members of the NLSC community, I wanted to share the link to Dr B’s Steam Greenlight campaign. To that end, if you’d like to vote on the game, you may do so here.

Furthermore, if you’d like to try out a beta version of the game, Dr B has previously uploaded demos to our Downloads section. You can can download the Windows version here, and the Mac version here. More information can also be found in this thread.

Monday Tip-Off: Realism in Franchise Modes

MyLEAGUE & MyGM, NBA 2K17's Franchise Modes

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games.

As I mentioned in last week’s Friday Five, one of my goals for NBA 2K17 is to return to my roots as a franchise gamer, and spend a lot more time in MyLEAGUE. I’m still deciding which team (or teams) I’ll control, what kind of moves I might make, and whether or not I’ll experiment with league expansion and relocation in my primary MyLEAGUE game. As I mentioned in this thread, I generally prefer to maintain a certain level of realism when I play franchise modes, as I’ve discovered that making too many trades or using the fantasy draft options quickly leads to boredom, due to the more rapid departure from reality.

Of course, the very nature of franchise modes means that there will generally be some deviation from reality. Whether it’s a player’s stats, a team’s record, or the odd trade here and there, most of our franchise games are not going to be one hundred percent realistic. For many of us, it’s those small changes – or if we so choose, big changes – that make franchise modes so fun and enjoyable. At the same time, however, many of us do believe that franchise modes should be as realistic as possible, and are frustrated when our desired level of realism isn’t achieved. The question is: what actually constitutes realism in a franchise mode?

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Monday Tip-Off: Enjoying a Flawed Basketball Video Game

NBA Live 16: Basketball

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games.

With message boards and social media providing us with a plethora of platforms to speak out on, we gamers are not shy about expressing our opinions on the games we play. It’s a key part of being a gaming community, and it serves an important purpose, given how much contact we now have with video game developers. It’s usually a bit easier to talk at length about the things that we don’t like rather than the things that we do, but in doing so, we are able to provide constructive feedback. While we may be a niche demographic compared to other genres, the basketball gaming community is no different in that regard.

The basketball games that we play have come a long way over the past couple of decades, and generally speaking, most of us have at least one release that we enjoy. We do have high expectations however, and when a particular title doesn’t measure up, we’ll certainly express our disappointment. The interesting thing is, although some basketball gamers will indeed put aside a game that they find disappointing, many others do continue to play games despite their frustration with glaring flaws. In short, even when a title is problematic, we often find a way to have fun with it.

So, how do we find ways to enjoy flawed basketball video games?

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The Sunday Substitute: My NBA 2K16 MyCAREER Evolution

The week is in the dying minutes of the fourth quarter, which means it’s time for The Sunday Substitute! It’s the article where I get some valuable minutes while the star is resting on the bench. I might not have the time to do this every week, but I like to think I’m still making a contribution to the team.

In this edition, I want to talk about MyCAREER and how I have approached it in NBA 2K16. Whether I’m building a team in a franchise mode or creating the next superstar in a player mode, I have generally found the reward to be in the gameplay experience alone. NBA 2K16, on the other hand, has been a different story for me. It’s the first NBA game that I have really delved into the online aspect – with MyPARK, 2K PRO-AM and MyTEAM – and it is also the first game I have really dealt with Virtual Currency (VC). All the sudden, the way I play one game mode affects how I play every game mode.

This article is basically a timeline of my experience in MyCAREER in NBA 2K16 and what kept me motivated to stick with it. My motivations generally changed depending on my needs in NBA 2K16 and whether I completed what previously motivated me. With that said, here’s my evolution through MyCAREER in NBA 2K16.

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The Friday Five: 5 Frustrating Design Choices in Basketball Games

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.

It’s stating the obvious, but we’re pretty fond of our basketball video games around these parts. We may get frustrated and grumble when we encounter a bug or some other quirk in a game, but I’d like to think that for the most part, a majority of us are enjoying our time on the virtual hardwood. No game is ever going to be perfect or completely bug-free, and new gaming tech is always being developed and refined. All the same, we generally find a way to enjoy basketball games, especially if they receive official patches that are able to stamp out some of the most troubling issues.

Of course, bugs aren’t the only issues that cause us to become frustrated with basketball video games. Sometimes, our complaints are with the design choices that are made when developing hoops titles; the approach to certain features. While there may be a rhyme and reason to some of those choices, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t annoying, or problematic. In this week’s Friday Five, I’m taking a look at five design choices that cause their fair share of frustration for basketball gamers.

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Wayback Wednesday: Double Dribble Video Retrospective

Double Dribble Title Screen

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 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.

I’m long overdue to do another video retrospective for Wayback Wednesday, and a recent incident involving Family Guy inspired me to cover a game that’s been on my list for a while: Double Dribble, for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Double Dribble is a game by Konami that a lot of you have probably heard of, and it’s a hoops title that I wanted as a kid, but never actually played until many years later. Having played the game since as an adult, I certainly have a few thoughts on it that I’d like to share with my fellow basketball gamers. Since it’s recently come up in gaming news and been thrust back into the public eye, now seems like an opportune time.

It’s a significant basketball video game in its own right, one that’s worth revisiting if only for its memorable animated dunking cutscenes. With that said, let’s take a look back…way back…

Catch the retrospective here on our YouTube channel if you can’t see the embedded video. Making another video retrospective has certainly got me in the mood to get back to creating them, so stay tuned for further video content, as well as other Wayback Wednesday features, coming your way every week here at the NLSC!

Monday Tip-Off: Should Basketball Video Games Have DLC?

Alex English in the NBA 2K12 Legends Showcase DLC

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games.

Let’s broach a controversial topic today: downloadable content. Downloadable content is a polarising aspect of modern gaming to say the least, as many gamers despise it, and believe that it’s ruining the hobby. At the same time, there are plenty of gamers who will enthusiastically tell developers to shut up and take their money when appealing DLC is announced. In my view, there are valid arguments on both sides.

DLC isn’t something we’ve had to deal with much when it comes to basketball video games. These days, sports games are expected to receive updates throughout the season, and those updates are included in the price of the game. While they do have bonus content that could feasibly be expanded with DLC, sports games generally don’t lend themselves to the concept as much as games that can receive new maps, weapons, missions, characters, and so on.

It would be feasible for EA Sports and 2K Sports to offer that kind of content for NBA Live and NBA 2K though, so I ask the question: should basketball video games have DLC?

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Monday Tip-Off: Modding Old Basketball Video Games

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Get your week started here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games.

A couple of months ago, I talked about why we enjoy going back and playing old basketball video games. Dusting off an old favourite is almost always an enjoyably nostalgic experience; however, the further back you go, the more aware you’ll be of how much basketball games have improved over the years. Some games are fun to revisit, but you can’t always spend too much time with them as they’re just too outdated, too primitive compared to what we’re used to now. While that may mean a simpler experience with an appealing “pick up and play” factor, it can also feel a bit shallow after a while.

Of course, there are some gamers who still prefer playing older titles to newer ones, for various reasons. Whether you’re still actively playing an older basketball game, or you’re going back and playing an old favourite for a change of pace, the experience can be greatly enhanced by mods and patches. We still have quite a few people making updates for older titles, as we even had some uploads for NBA Live 2000 as recently as August last year. In terms of newer games, there’s still a thriving modding community for NBA 2K14 PC, even though a lot of gamers moved on to NBA 2K15, and subsequently NBA 2K16.

So, why do we still enjoy modding older basketball games, long after their popularity has started to fade?

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The Friday Five: 5 Predictions for Future Cover Players

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to basketball video games, the real NBA, or another area of interest to our community, either as a list of five items or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.

The cover players for NBA Live and NBA 2K are admittedly an insignificant detail in the grand scheme of things. Nevertheless, it’s a subject that still manages to capture our attention every year, before the official announcements are made. In between talking about what we want to see out of NBA Live and NBA 2K, and speculating on each game’s features and improvements as we learn about them, we usually find ourselves asking: who’s going to be on the cover?

It’s a fun talking point, even if it does have little bearing on the games themselves. Throughout the years, we’ve seen some huge names lend their likenesses to the cover art of NBA Live and NBA 2K, as well as a few unorthodox choices for cover players. Since it’ll be a few months until the preview season really gets underway, I thought that for this week’s Five, I’d throw out some predictions as to who we might see on the covers of NBA Live and NBA 2K…perhaps as soon as this year.

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The Friday Five: 5 Satisfying Moments in Basketball Gaming

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to basketball video games, the real NBA, or another area of interest to our community, either as a list of five items or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.

There are a lot of things that feel good when you’re playing a basketball video game. Knocking down a three-pointer, whether it’s a wide open shot or you’re drilling it right in the face of a defender. Throwing down a dunk, especially when you see a brand new animation, or when the slam caps off a big scoring run. Great defensive plays that end with a crafty steal, intimidating block, or an embarrassing shot clock violation for your opponent, also feel pretty good. When you’re playing a basketball video game, you can sometimes get just as excited as you do when you’re watching or playing the real sport.

That’s what makes basketball video games such a satisfying experience. I mean, we wouldn’t be playing them, talking about them, modding them, and yes, even complaining about them, if we weren’t getting something out of them, and they didn’t hold any value to us. In this week’s Friday Five, I wanted to talk about some of the specific moments in basketball video games that I find to be the most satisfying. These are the moments that go beyond the thrill of simply nailing a triple, or rocking the rim.

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Wayback Wednesday: Michael Jordan in Flight Video Retrospective

Michael Jordan in Flight Screenshot

Welcome to Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! This is a feature where we look back on yesteryear, dig into the archives, indulge in some nostalgia, and in some cases, wonder just what we were thinking. Check in every Wednesday for features and retrospectives on old basketball video games, old NLSC editorials published as-is with added commentary, and other flashback content.

February 17th marks the birthday of my all-time favourite basketball player, Michael Jordan. Since this week’s Wayback Wednesday coincides with MJ’s birthday, and I’ve been eager to do another video retrospective for a while, I figured it was a good time to look back at an old game featuring His Airness: Michael Jordan in Flight. Released exclusively for PC DOS back in 1992, it may seem primitive today, but for its time, it was quite technologically advanced.

Whether or not you’re a big fan of Michael Jordan, I hope that you’ll enjoy my video retrospective of another noteworthy, and somewhat unique basketball video game. With that said, let’s take a look back…way back…

Check it out here on our YouTube channel if you can’t see the embedded video. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before I can post another retrospective like this, so stay tuned for more videos, columns, stuff from the archives, and other Wayback Wednesday content, coming your way every week!

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