Features

Wayback Wednesday: Double Dribble Video Retrospective

Double Dribble Title Screen

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’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: The New Game Blues of MyCAREER

Dunking in NBA 2K13's MyCAREER

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.

In the best case scenario, the release of a new NBA Live or NBA 2K title will tip off several months of enjoyable basketball gaming. Ideally, we’ll see enhancements to the gameplay and game modes, with troublesome issues being resolved and much-desired features being added. In short order, we’ll start building our Ultimate Team or MyTEAM, meet up with friends for some Pro-Am games, choose a team for Dynasty, MyLEAGUE, or MyGM, or step into the shoes of an NBA player with a new Rising Star or MyCAREER game.

Of course, even if we’re enjoying a new basketball video game as much as its predecessor – or enjoying it more, as the case may be – it’s possible to feel at least a little bit of regret about what we’ve left behind. If we spend a lot of time with a game, sinking hours upon hours into a mode that has us hooked, it can be hard to move on. The bar will be set very high for the next game, and recapturing the magic that enchanted us for close to a year is easier said than done.

That’s how I felt when I made the jump from NBA 2K13 to NBA 2K14, and tried to follow up on a memorable MyCAREER experience.

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The Friday Five: 5 Trades You Make in Franchise Modes

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.

One of the most appealing aspects of the franchise modes in NBA Live and NBA 2K is the ability to make the trades that you’d love to see happen in real life. Frustrated that your favourite team can never seem to pull off a blockbuster deal that lands them a superstar? In franchise modes, you can make it happen, and live out a few fantasy scenarios. Of course, just as in real life, you’ll need to deal with the restrictions of the salary cap, as well as convince other teams to agree to the trades that you offer. I’d suggest that a few of us have found out that building a great roster isn’t always easy.

When we don our virtual GM suits and start wheeling and dealing, there are some common types of trades that we end up making. Sometimes, we try to be realistic, while other times we’ll make unthinkable deals. Some trades are very good, some trades are very bad, and some trades work out very differently than how they looked on paper. Sometimes, they can make or break the franchise mode experience. In this week’s Friday Five, I’m looking at five types of trades we’ll make when we play through a franchise game in NBA Live or NBA 2K.

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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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Monday Tip-Off: When Awesome Presentation Isn’t So Great

Shot Chart with ESPN Presentation in NBA Live 16

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.

There are a lot of ways that you can see just how much basketball video games have improved over the years. You can compare screenshots, and gameplay footage. You can read retrospectives and reviews, comparing and contrasting their critique. Best of all, you can get some firsthand impressions by playing an old favourite from many years ago; it won’t be long before you notice some outdated tech that’s come a long way since then. Not every basketball video game is better in every single way than all of the titles that came before it, but the further back you look, the more progress you will see.

Another method of seeing just how far basketball video games have come is to glance back at our old Wishlists. We have Wishlists dating back to 1997, when the community was awaiting the release of NBA Live 98. Take a look back at those articles in our content portals, and you’ll see that a lot of the things that we were asking for have since become a reality. Multi-season franchise modes, online leagues, historical teams, single player career modes, full TV-style presentation…a lot of our wishes have made their way into NBA Live and NBA 2K over the years.

When it comes to in-depth broadcast presentation, however, you may have to be careful what you wish for. Sometimes, awesome presentation isn’t so great.

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The Friday Five: 5 Suggestions for MyCAREER in NBA 2K17

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 we look ahead to NBA 2K17 – the only basketball game that will be hitting consoles and PC in Fall 2016 – our Wishlist discussions are in full swing. While franchise modes have traditionally been my bag, and I’ve taken a greater interest in the card collecting modes in recent years, I would like to get more involved in MyCAREER again. I had a lot of fun playing MyCAREER in NBA 2K13, so much so that I ended up maintaining a story thread about it. As I’ve discussed in previous articles and on the NLSC Podcast, however, I’ve lost interest in the mode following the new approach that was adopted in NBA 2K14.

While many of us have taken smirking shots at the story-driven approach of MyCAREER, snark does become overdone, tired, and useless after a while. I believe in the philosophy of fans, not fanboys; critics, not haters. As such, at a certain point we need to drop the snark, identify problems, and put together useful, constructive feedback. To that end, here are five suggestions for MyCAREER in NBA 2K17.

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Wayback Wednesday: Thoughts on EA’s Next NBA Sim Game

LeBron James in NBA Live 13

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.

It’s been revealed that NBA Live 17 won’t be shipping in the Fall of 2016 as expected, as a new console version of NBA Live will instead be dropping in early 2017. Naturally, this has led to disappointment and speculation that the series will be moving in a completely new direction, abandoning the AAA model in favour of being a mobile-only game. At this point, those of us who are interested in seeing NBA Live improve and succeed are anxious to hear more concrete details about the future of the series.

NBA Live’s hardships and setbacks over the past six years are well-documented. They include the cancellation of NBA Elite 11 and NBA Live 13, poor reception of NBA Live 14, and a postponed release for NBA Live 15, to say nothing of Metacritic scores. As we find ourselves in familiar territory, I’ve dug into the archives and found an article that I wrote about the future of the series back in April 2011, when we discovered the series would attempt a relaunch with a game that would eventually be the cancelled NBA Live 13. As with previous articles I’ve revisited, I’m presenting it as-is (aside from a couple of images), and following it up with some commentary.

So, what was my take back then, and have my thoughts changed? Well, let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Why Basketball Games Need Custom Rosters

LeBron James dunks the basketball in NBA Live 14

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.

In last week’s Monday Tip-Off, I talked about why basketball video games need to have robust game modes. As I explained in the article, having a variety of deep, engaging modes goes a long way in making a basketball video game feel complete, and fully featured. Combined with satisfying gameplay, appealing bonus content, and a bevy of customisation options, the end result is a well-rounded, quality release. In other words, the kind of basketball video game that we all want to see and play.

One of the customisation options that every basketball game absolutely must have is roster editing. When NBA Live and NBA 2K launched on the current generation of consoles, both games were missing the comprehensive roster editing tools that were available in previous releases. NBA 2K14 had some basic roster editing functionality, while the ability to customise rosters was completely absent in NBA Live 14. NBA 2K has since brought back roster editing, but unfortunately, it’s yet to return in NBA Live.

Moving forward, it’s absolutely essential that both games offer roster editing and that the functionality continues to expand and improve. Let’s take a look at why this is such a vital feature in basketball video games.

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The Friday Five: 5 Problems Basketball Gamers No Longer Deal With

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.

I’ve been playing basketball games for a long time – over twenty years, at least – and as I’ve said quite a few times before, I’m impressed when I reflect upon how far they’ve come. While it’s easy to get frustrated when we don’t see some of the most desired improvements year-to-year, when you start going back a generation or two, you can really see the leaps that basketball games have made. I’ve actually been spending a decent amount of time with older basketball titles as of late, as I continue to produce content for our ongoing 20th Anniversary of NBA Live celebrations.

Playing those older basketball games has been a fun trip down memory lane, but it’s also reminded me of some of the problems that were often present, even in the best titles from yesteryear. Needless to say, with basketball games progressing as much as they have, a few of those issues are even more glaring now. While today’s hoops games are still facing some of the same challenges, such as implementing a maximum difficulty setting that plays smarter instead of cheaper, there are some noteworthy problems that we no longer have to deal with. Let’s consider ourselves lucky that we’re not still battling the following five issues.

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Wayback Wednesday: Charles Barkley in Basketball Video Games

Charles Barkley celebrates in NBA Live 2000

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.

With this being May the 4th, the iconic Star Wars franchise is what a lot of people around the world are talking about and celebrating today. It’s a little difficult to tie that into basketball – though Chewbacca’s size would probably make him pretty dominant in the paint – so I decided to take a look back at this day in NBA history for inspiration. In doing so, I was reminded of Charles Barkley’s 56 point, 14 rebound game on May 4th 1994, which helped his Phoenix Suns to eliminate then-rookie Chris Webber’s Golden State Warriors 3-0 in the first round of the Playoffs.

When it comes to elusive figures in basketball video games, the first player that we tend to think of is Michael Jordan. As I’ve discussed in a couple of previous articles, MJ was missing from the various NBA sim games during his second run with the Chicago Bulls, and aside from some rare, specially produced arcade cabinets, he’s never been featured in NBA Jam. However, while Charles Barkley did appear in NBA Live towards the end of his career, he was similarly absent – or replaced by a Roster Player – in a number of releases.

It’s one of those things from basketball gaming history that’s interesting to revisit, because it just doesn’t happen with today’s stars and modern releases. With that said, 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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Monday Tip-Off: Why Basketball Games Need Robust Modes

Dwyane Wade with the basketball in NBA Live 16

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’d like to talk a little more about something that I touched upon in last week’s Friday Five. From time to time, I’ll see one of my fellow basketball gamers opine that game modes don’t really matter. While everyone is entitled to their own opinions and preferences, and I’ll always advocate that everyone should play basketball games in a way that they enjoy rather than how someone else insists they “should”, I have to be honest here: I’m definitely puzzled by that point of view.

When it comes down to it, basketball video games absolutely need to have robust depth modes. These days, that means a franchise mode, a single player career mode, a card collecting mode, and a mode that offers some sort of online league or squad play. I’m confident that a lot of people will agree with me here, but for those who don’t feel that modes are all that important, please allow me to explain why many of us believe that they’re vital to basketball games.

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The Friday Five: 5 Ways to End a Basketball Gaming Rut

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 mentioned a few times in recent episodes of the NLSC Podcast, I’ve been finding myself in a bit of a basketball gaming rut as of late. As much as I like NBA Live 16 and NBA 2K16 for what each title brings to the table, I haven’t been spending as much time with them as I’d like. This is partly due to the fact that I’ve been playing older versions of NBA Live to create content for our 20th Anniversary of NBA Live features, but on top of that, I’ve also found myself a little unsure of what I actually want to do with the most recent releases from EA Sports and Visual Concepts.

First world problems, I know. In any event, I’ve been thinking of what I can do to get out of this rut, and spend some more quality time with the latest basketball games. I’m sure that I’m not the only one who experiences occasional lulls in my basketball gaming habits, so I thought that I’d discuss the topic openly in this week’s Friday Five, and perhaps start a conversation that will help anyone else who feels like they’re in a bit of basketball gaming rut. With that said, here are five suggestions to tip things off.

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Wayback Wednesday: Hidden Players in NBA Live 96 SNES

Roster Setup in NBA Live 96 SNES

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 inclusion of several hidden players in the Super Nintendo version of NBA Live 96 is a trivia note that I’ve mentioned in a few previous columns, including my look back at the game’s Expansion Draft feature. I’ve also mentioned my intention to talk a little more about those hidden players, and this week’s Wayback Wednesday seems as good a time as any.

Hidden players have been found in several basketball video games over the years. A few rookies were hidden in the default rosters of NBA Live 2004, and were unlockable via a code (or DBF editing on PC). Poking around in NBA Live 08’s database uncovered some unused historical teams. The NBA Jam series famously features several secret players that you can play with, and against. And, if you use RED MC to open up the rosters for recent NBA 2K games, you’ll find a few players that have been deactivated and removed from the active roster.

However, NBA Live 96 on SNES features one of the largest selections of unlockable hidden players that we’ve seen in a basketball game. How did that come about? Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: An Ode to Disappointing Screenshots

Carmelo Anthony Jersey Glitch in NBA 2K13

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.

Today’s column has nothing to do with being disappointed in the screenshots that we see during the preview season. That does happen, of course, but it’s an entirely different issue. No, I’m talking about the times when we’re playing NBA Live or NBA 2K, something really exciting happens, and we immediately have to fire up Instant Replay to enjoy it again. Unfortunately, when we do, we discover that certain aspects of the play don’t look quite as good as they did the first time around. That’s when we end up with screenshots that can be pretty funny, but also disappointing when we’re after a cool shot.

The technology that’s used in basketball video games specifically (and gaming in general) has come a long way, and you can easily spotlight the improvements with side-by-side comparisons of screenshots and videos. There are still limitations of course, and while they aren’t always noticeable during gameplay, they can be painfully obvious when we watch the action again from a closer angle, and in slow motion. Today’s games look much more realistic than their predecessors, but you can still expect a few glitches to jump out and spoil your screenshots and videos now and again.

This week’s Monday Tip-Off is all about memorable basketball gaming moments that don’t end up looking so good. This is an ode to disappointing screenshots.

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