Features

Wayback Wednesday: Team USA Basketball (SEGA Genesis)

Team USA Basketball for the SEGA Genesis

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.

Whenever I’m deciding on what I want to talk about for Wayback Wednesday, it’s generally either a game I’ve been meaning to review or discuss for some time, or a topic that’s somehow related to the date or a current event. With the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro underway, and Team USA seeking another gold medal in basketball, it seems like as good a time as any to talk about Team USA Basketball for the SEGA Genesis.

For those who have never heard of it, Team USA Basketball is actually a spinoff of the NBA Playoffs series – EA’s forerunner to NBA Live – and was the first game to feature the legendary Dream Team, long before NBA 2K13. Released exclusively for the SEGA Genesis in 1992, it’s obviously very primitive compared to its successors, but what was it like, and how does it hold up today? I offer up my thoughts on this arguably lesser known EA basketball game, in a new video retrospective.

Let’s take a look back…way back…

Check it out here on our YouTube channel if you can’t see the embedded video. As I’ve said before, while I can’t always find the time to work on them, I do enjoy making video retrospectives, so hopefully you enjoyed watching it as well! Be sure to check in each and every Wednesday for more videos, articles, and other retro basketball video gaming content!

Monday Tip-Off: Pre-Order Bonuses & Basketball Video Games

Final NBA 2K17 Pre-Order Bonuses

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.

By now, you’re probably aware that the 1992 Dream Team will be among the pre-order bonuses for NBA 2K17. While a lot of the pre-order bonuses are more or less cosmetic, adding the Dream Team for the first time since NBA 2K13 is offering users an enticing expansion to the game’s historical content. For at least some basketball gamers who might have been on the fence about pre-ordering the game, it’s a genuine incentive to put their money down. To that end, it’s certainly a smart business decision on the part of Visual Concepts.

However, from the point of view of the consumer, it’s also a disheartening practice that is all too common with video games these days. Whenever content is restricted to being a pre-order bonus – particularly content that feels like it should be included out of the box, and especially if it’s been featured in a previous title – there’s going to be controversy, and goodwill is going to be tested. It does lead me to ask the question: should content like the 1992 Dream Team be pre-order exclusive? For that matter, should basketball video games have pre-order exclusive content at all?

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The Friday Five: 5 Things Modders Must Stop Doing

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.

Every online community has its own issues, but as I’ve said many times before, I truly believe that we have a good thing going here at the NLSC. While I’ve enjoyed expanding our content and relish the opportunity to both interview and provide feedback to developers at EA Sports and Visual Concepts, it’s probably fair to say that our enduring legacy is our modding community. Over the twenty years that the NLSC has been around, the talented modders in our community have produced some truly outstanding works.

For the most part, I do believe that our modders are largely helpful, and supportive towards one another. Like I said though, every online community has its own issues, and I believe there are areas in which we can improve. There are some troubling practices in our modding community, and for some of them, it’s well past time to nip them in the bud. While I may not be heavily involved in our NBA 2K modding scene at this time, I do keep tabs on it, and I’ve been involved in NBA Live modding for close to two decades now. As such, I do know what I’m talking about when I say that these are five things that modders should stop doing, to make our community better.

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Wayback Wednesday: The 50s All-Stars in NBA Live 2000

50s All-Stars in NBA Live 2000

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.

On this day in 1949, the Basketball Association of America merged with the National Basketball League to form what is now known as the National Basketball Association. While the NBA has gone from strength to strength in the decades that have followed, it often pays tribute to its heritage, from throwback jerseys to naming the 50 Greatest NBA Players of All-Time in 1997. Of course, the players from those early years are made known to younger NBA fans not only through documentaries and old highlights, but also basketball video games. Some seventeen years ago, those early stars appeared as the 50s All-Stars in NBA Live 2000.

Seeing as how I grew up watching the NBA in the 90s, I must admit that I was more excited about the 90s All-Stars, in particular the addition of Michael Jordan, who was making his first official appearance in an NBA Live game. I also had an appreciation for the players who were big in the 80s, as there was a fair amount of overlap with the 90s in that regard. Nevertheless, it was cool to see the 50s, 60s, and 70s also represented in NBA Live 2000 by the best players of those eras; well, most of them, anyway. Since it’s the anniversary of the BAA-NBL merger, I thought I’d spotlight the 50s All-Stars team.

Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Fun with Basketball Video Game Glitches

Headless Utah Jazz Players in NBA 2K11

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.

Although glitches are generally seen as a problem in gaming – and for good reason – they’re not always a bad thing. Sure, they aren’t a lot of fun when they cause games to crash and lock up, or ruin features and functionality, but when glitches are relatively harmless, they can be pretty funny. I wouldn’t say that it’s as common in basketball video games as it is in other genres, but there are even times when bugs and glitches can be advantageous, making certain tasks easier, or even completely bypassing difficult and tedious sections of a game. TV Tropes calls them Good Bad Bugs, and the speedrunning community obviously knows them very well.

A lot of people are probably familiar with the “Jesus Bynum” glitch that drew a lot of negative attention to the NBA Elite 11 demo. Although most people probably never experienced the glitch for themselves, it became a symbol of the game’s problems. While NBA Elite 11 was shaping up to be a disappointing game for other reasons before it was ultimately cancelled, the Bynum issue is really more of an example of a glitch that is fun and amusing; something weird that obviously shouldn’t be happening, but certainly funny when it does. With that in mind, I thought I’d talk a little about some amusing glitches today, and share a few of my favourites.

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The Friday Five: 5 Gripes with Current Gen 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.

In many ways, basketball video games are better than they’ve ever been. While there are still quirks with the AI, it’s much smarter than it used to be, with players thinking for themselves and getting into position instead of just standing around. Scanning in faces, jerseys, shoes, and other details ensures that the games look a lot better than their predecessors from a couple of generations ago. We have some really fun and deep modes to play, both offline and online. In short, basketball video games have done some really cool things in recent years.

On the other hand, there is definitely still room for improvement. More to the point, while recent basketball games have delivered some really impressive modes and very enjoyable moments on the virtual hardwood, they do have some aspects that I’m not so thrilled about. I know I’ve discussed some of these issues before, but with new titles on the horizon, they’re once again on my mind. With that being said, here are five gripes that I have with the current generation of basketball video games.

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Wayback Wednesday: Michael Jordan in NBA 2K11

Michael Jordan in NBA 2K11

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.

Michael Jordan is the greatest player in the history of basketball. There, that’s a suitably controversial statement to open an article with, these days. For a long time, that was an acceptable assertion to make, but now it seems you’re a bitter old hater if you dare to suggest that there are arguments in favour of teams and players from older eras being superior. Well, contrary to some of the comments that I’ve read on YouTube lately, I would disagree that LeBron James is “clearly better than Michael Jordan”, and that the upcoming season will establish that “fact” once and for all. That’s not a knock on LeBron, by the way; MJ just happened to be pretty good.

Anyway, that’s a debate for another time. At the very least, most fans and analysts would agree that Michael Jordan is one of the best players we’ve ever seen, and one of the most significant and influential people in the history of basketball. During his career, he dazzled fans with his play, and his combination of highlights and success on the hardwood in turn sold a lot of merchandise. In retirement, his brand has remained just as strong. It’s no surprise that Visual Concepts made him the first retired player to appear on the cover of their game, when he became the face of NBA 2K11.

Michael Jordan’s appearance in NBA 2K11 was certainly a big deal, and definitely worth reflecting upon. So, let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Reflections on NBA Live Community Events

At EA Tiburon for the NBA Live 16 Community Event

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.

When I logged into Facebook this morning, “On This Day” presented me with a look back at previous posts that I’d made on July 25th. As it happens, on this day last year, I made a post letting my friends and family know that I’d be heading to the United States in the near future. The trip was for an NBA Live 16 community event that was being held at EA Tiburon in Orlando, but as I didn’t have clearance to talk about it openly just yet, I held back on the details and simply posted a teaser photo. I also had to be very coy on the NLSC Podcast, when discussing upcoming playtesting sessions and expressing a desire to be a part of them.

The NBA Live 16 event was one of the best that I’ve ever attended. While the game still had a ways to go – then and now – it was fun to get some early hands-on time with it, and experience the improvements. I also really enjoyed having the opportunity to meet with the developers and provide feedback to them directly. On top of all that, the whole event was extremely well-organised, with every detail taken care of, and maximum time allotted for gaming. Past events were fun and productive, but several years of organising them have definitely given EA Sports’ community managers the opportunity to make them better and better.

Since it’s been almost a year since the last one I attended, I thought that I’d reflect a little upon the NBA Live community events that I’ve been a part of. Hopefully, last year’s won’t be the last.

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The Friday Five: 5 Most Missed Modes 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.

Earlier this week, we received some exciting news about upgrades to the franchise modes in NBA 2K17. MyGM and MyLEAGUE will include league expansion, both modes will feature all kinds of customisation options, and a standalone Playoffs mode is also being added to the game. After expressing my frustration at the prospect of a quiet preview season in this week’s Monday Tip-Off, it was definitely satisfying to see the previews for NBA 2K17 get underway with some very welcome news about the franchise modes, which I’ve traditionally been quite interested in.

While we’re still yet to learn anything about MyCAREER, 2K Pro-Am, or much else about NBA 2K17, I’m expecting another very solid release as far as game modes are concerned. Meanwhile, NBA Live has struggled to provide deep modes since its comeback with NBA Live 14. While LIVE Pro-Am was well-made with a lot of potential for further growth, generally speaking, modes remain a weakness for NBA Live. As I look ahead and hope for improvements in both titles, I can’t help but think about some of the modes that are greatly missed. I would suggest that many basketball gamers would welcome the return of these five modes.

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Wayback Wednesday: Yao Ming in Basketball Video Games

Yao Ming in NBA 2K16

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.

On this day in 2011, Hall of Famer Yao Ming announced his retirement from the Houston Rockets and the NBA. It brought an end to a career that was unfortunately marred by injuries, but was nevertheless successful, and marvellous to watch. While he wasn’t the first player over 7’3″ to find a home and make a legitimate contribution in the NBA, he remains the only one to achieve true superstar status. Only Rik Smits comes close, and that comparison still greatly favours Yao, to say the least. On the court, he was so much more than just an attraction, an oddity, or another very tall player.

Just as Yao Ming was a star on the court, so too did his digital counterpart find success on the virtual hardwood. Yao was a handy player to have in a Dynasty or Association game, with his combination of height and skill making him a very formidable opponent in the paint. Since it’s the anniversary of his retirement, I thought I’d take a look back at Yao Ming’s history in basketball video games, offering up a few tidbits about his virtual counterpart, and providing a few screenshots through the years.

Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Where Is The Preview Season?

Paul George with the layup in NBA 2K16

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.

If you’re a regular listener of the NLSC Podcast, you’ll have heard me describe the current time of year as a very quiet period. After the initial flurry of deals, all of the major free agent signings are over and done with. There’s been Summer League play, of course, but here in the basketball gaming community, we’re anxiously awaiting the start of the preview season. With NBA Live 17 being pushed back to early 2017, we’re obviously not going to hear much about it for some time. NBA 2K17 will be dropping in mid September, but details on that release are similarly scarce.

That isn’t anything too out of the ordinary, though. Even when both titles have been released around the same time, Visual Concepts has often waited until almost the last minute before finally revealing the juiciest details on the next NBA 2K game. I would suggest that a lot of the time, the information has been worth waiting for, and the success of the series certainly speaks for itself. At the same time, I miss the days of getting a steady flow of information, and feeling really hyped about the upcoming releases.

As such, I find myself asking: where is the preview season?

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The Friday Five: 5 Ideas for 2K Pro-Am

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 you might know if you’ve caught any recent episodes of the NLSC Podcast, I’ve been playing a lot of 2K Pro-Am lately. In fact, I haven’t played much besides 2K Pro-Am in recent weeks, which is unusual as I’m not normally an online gamer. However, as I explained in Monday Tip-Off a few weeks back, I’m really enjoying the social aspect of the mode, and it’s been a fun change of pace from the modes that I usually play. It’s one of the reasons that I’m considering pre-ordering the Legend Edition of NBA 2K17, in order to immediately level up my MyPLAYER.

Needless to say, while I am enjoying the mode, it’s not without its problems. A few weeks ago, I discussed some issues with the grading logic that also affect MyCAREER, which I’d definitely like to see fixed. On top of that, there are some other improvements that I’d like to see made to 2K Pro-Am, five of which I’m outlining in this week’s column. So, without any further ado, here are five ideas for NBA 2K17’s Pro-Am, which I feel would greatly benefit the mode.

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Wayback Wednesday: Yinka Dare Dominates NBA Jam TE

Yinka Dare's Ratings in NBA Jam Tournament Edition on PC

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.

Today, I present you with a game of NBA Jam Tournament Edition on PC, featuring Yinka Dare. Now, NBA Jam TE is one of my all-time favourite basketball video games, and in my opinion, one of the best arcade hoops games ever made. Conversely, and with all due respect, the late Yinka Dare’s ranking among NBA alumni isn’t quite as stellar. As I’ve mentioned before, his ratings in the PC version of NBA Jam TE are some of the most insulting you’ll ever find in a basketball video game, having been severely nerfed from the Super Nintendo version. Outside of his Dunking, Blocking, and Power ratings, there isn’t a lot to work with.

However, despite ratings that are mostly made up of ones and zeroes, it’s possible to dominate with Yinka Dare in NBA Jam TE. In fact, not even a Clutch rating of zero can prevent Dare from getting the job done in crunch time! Don’t believe me? Well, let’s take a look back…way back…

Check it out here on our YouTube channel if you can’t see the embedded video. While it’s a little easier to accomplish feats like this in arcade basketball games, even in sim titles it can be a lot of fun to have big games with players whose ratings shouldn’t normally allow it. In that respect, it’s kind of like watching an unlikely player erupt for 50 points in real life. In any case, I hope you enjoyed the video; be sure to check in each and every Wednesday for more videos, retrospectives, stuff from the archives, and other Wayback content!

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 Friday Five: 5 Reasons My MyPLAYER is a Point Guard

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 reasons I’ve always loved the franchise modes in basketball video games is the fact that there’s so much to do. You’re in control of everything, as you play so many roles: coach, GM, and every player on the team. Not having full control is an interesting change of pace however, which is why I’ve also taken an interest in MyCAREER, and more recently, 2K Pro-Am. When I create my MyPLAYER with an eye towards playing those modes, point guard has become my position of choice.

It wasn’t always that way, though. When I was a teenager playing basketball in my local league, I was one of the taller kids, so I played centre and power forward. As a result, I do have an appreciation for (and bias towards) post play, and mixing it up in the paint. I also enjoyed taking the occasional three-pointer once I got better at knocking them down, and Michael Jordan is my all-time favourite player, so my early attempts at MyCAREER were with a MyPLAYER who was a shooting guard. So, what changed, and why do I now prefer to run the point instead?

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