Wayback Wednesday

Wayback Wednesday: Creating a Legend in NBA 2K11

MJ: Creating a Legend 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 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. This week, I’m taking a look back at MJ: Creating a Legend in NBA 2K11.

NBA 2K11 remains a very highly regarded basketball video game, and for good reason. It was a milestone release in terms of its historical content, and for many gamers, its gameplay still holds up. I’ve talked about it a couple of times in previous Wayback Wednesday features, specifically discussing the inclusion of Michael Jordan, and my efforts to finally complete the Jordan Challenge. In passing, I’ve also mentioned the mode that could be unlocked either by completing the Jordan Challenge, or by punching in the code icanbe23; namely, MJ: Creating a Legend.

Notably different from the incarnations of Creating a Legend that appeared in subsequent NBA 2K games, it’s a mode that a lot of gamers probably didn’t spend too much time with. Indeed, some have probably forgotten about it, if they even realised it was in NBA 2K11 in the first place. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Freestyle Superstars in NBA Live 06

Kevin Garnett with the Freestyle Superstars shot in NBA Live 06

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. This week, I’m taking a look back at Freestyle Superstars in NBA Live 06.

As basketball video games have improved along with gaming technology in general, our expectations have also grown. When it comes to aspects such as realism, advanced or flashy moves, signature styles, and player differentiation, the bar has been raised higher and higher. Signature moves were present in EA Sports’ NBA Playoffs series, and skill levels were more defined beginning with the implementation of player ratings in NBA Live 95. However, star players still didn’t quite stand out from the pack. Freestyle Superstars was arguably EA’s first major effort to incorporate individual playing styles, and properly represent differing skill levels.

It was a concept that had its drawbacks, but I also believe that it was innovative and reasonably successful. Although the criticisms of Freestyle Superstars are fair, it’s a little underrated in terms of being an important stepping stone in the progression of basketball video games. How so? Well, let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: A Look Back at DSTATS in NBA Live

Shaquille O'Neal dunks 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 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. This week, I’m taking a look back at DSTATS in old NBA Live games.

For an enthusiastic franchise mode gamer, detail is paramount. On top of having a quality gameplay experience throughout the schedule, our enjoyment of a franchise mode is driven by the depth of the features, as well as the accuracy and realism of trades, free agency, and player performance. Simulated player stats that are wildly inaccurate can really detract from the franchise experience, especially during the first couple of seasons which are usually expected to somewhat resemble reality. The sim engine is an area where basketball games have greatly improved over the years, but in earlier NBA Live titles, realistic stats were achieved through the use of DSTATS.

DSTATS data provided the development team and modders alike with greater control over simulated player stats, but the approach also had a few noteworthy drawbacks. It’s an outmoded concept, but one that’s interesting to revisit, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 95 in NBA Live 06

NBA Live 95 in NBA Live 06 PS2

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. This week, I’m taking a look back at the presence of NBA Live 95 in the PlayStation 2 version of NBA Live 06.

Generally speaking, sim-oriented sports titles aren’t what most people think of, or indeed reach for, when it comes to retro gaming. They don’t always age well, mostly because they appeal to a demographic that wants to see more and more realism, as well as play with current season rosters. As such, they’re not as popular among retro gamers, to play or collect. That being said, there is a contingent of basketball gamers who do enjoy playing and modding older titles, so it’s certainly not unheard of. Finding a way to keep playing old favourites, or at least fire them up every once in a while, is something that people in our community do have an interest in.

When it came to the PlayStation 2 version of NBA Live 06, EA Sports made that a little easier by including an emulated version of NBA Live 95. It was a rather unusual example of bonus content, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Basketball Games I Wish I Owned

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. This week’s Five is a list of five basketball games that I wish I owned.

Over the years, I’ve built up a fairly big collection of basketball games. Some I’ve purchased new upon their release and I still have my original copies, some I’ve traded in and picked up again second-hand years later, and some I’ve added to my collection many years after they first came out. I like having full series wherever possible, and it’s been fun to check out basketball games that I never got around to playing when they were new. It’s also helped in creating content for the NLSC, particularly the Wayback Wednesday features, so I’ve enjoyed adding to my collection in recent years whenever I’ve been able to find a bargain on eBay.

My collection of basketball games isn’t complete, of course. Some titles are difficult to track down or cost more than I’m currently willing and able to spend, while others are only available on platforms that I don’t own, or were never released in the PAL region. As such, there are a handful of basketball games that I don’t currently own and very likely never will, but for one reason or another, wish that I did. The basketball games that I’m talking about today are, in no particular order, the top five titles that I’d love to add to my collection, if it were at all feasible.

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Wayback Wednesday: Generated Rookie Names in NBA Live

Generated Rookie 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 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. This week, I’m taking a look back at generated rookie names in NBA Live.

Now that the 2017 NBA Finals are in the books, everyone’s attention has turned to free agency and this year’s Draft. In a couple of days we’ll find out where all the top prospects will end up, but with custom Draft Classes, basketball gamers have already been creating their own scenarios in NBA 2K17. Of course, without a custom Draft Class in place, the new rookie crop will be completely fictional, with generated names, ratings, and attributes. In the early days of franchise modes, fictional rookies with generated names were the only option, barring any editing of the DBF files for NBA Live on PC.

As a result, there were some very weird and wonderful results with the randomly generated rookie names in NBA Live, as well as a few Easter Eggs here and there. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Freestyle Challenge in NBA Live

Freestyle Challenge Menu in NBA Live 2005

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. This week, I’m taking a look back at the Freestyle Challenge in NBA Live.

EA Play 2017 introduced us to The One, the new single player career mode that is set to debut in NBA Live 18. The depth of game modes has been a problem for the NBA Live series since its reboot in 2013, but as I’ve discussed in various 20th Anniversary of NBA Live retrospectives and Wayback Wednesday articles, there was a time when EA were consistently doing some very innovative things with their basketball games. I’ve already talked about the much-missed All-Star Weekend mode that was introduced in NBA Live 2005, but the addition of the Slam Dunk Contest and Three-Point Shootout also led to the inclusion of another mode: Freestyle Challenge.

A spinoff of the All-Star Weekend, Freestyle Challenge provided basketball gamers with something else to play in between the deeper game modes. It’s a mode that doesn’t get mentioned very often, but it was definitely an interesting concept, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Shaquille O’Neal in NBA Live 2002

Shaquille O'Neal dunks the basketball in NBA Live 2002

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. This week, I’m taking a look back at the dominance of Shaquille O’Neal in NBA Live 2002.

If you grew up watching him play or you’re at least familiar with your NBA history, you’ll know that Shaquille O’Neal was one of the most dominant players in league history. Although he was a force to be reckoned with for over a decade, the most dominant stretch of his career came between 2000 and 2002, when he led the Los Angeles Lakers to three straight championships. Putting up huge numbers in the NBA Finals became a trend for Shaq, beginning on this day in 2000 when he scored 43 points in Game 1 against the Indiana Pacers, after scoring 46 points, 37 points, and 41 points in the opening games of the first three rounds.

As you might expect, Shaq was generally also a beast in NBA video games. He was particularly unstoppable in NBA Live 2002, especially in the hands of the unforgiving AI on higher difficulty levels. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Be a Pro in NBA Live 09

Be a Pro Indicator Legend in NBA Live 09

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. This week, I’m taking a look back at Be a Pro in NBA Live 09.

When you think of early incarnations of single player career modes in basketball games, which titles come to mind? The Life in Sony’s NBA series, or the debut of My Player in NBA 2K10, are probably the first two that you think of. However, right around the same time, NBA Live was starting to make some inroads on adding a single player mode of its own. Before Rising Star in NBA Live 14, before Become Legendary in the ill-fated NBA Elite 11, EA Sports were experimenting with career mode concepts in the form of Be a Pro, which only appeared in NBA Live 09.

Aside from being noteworthy as NBA Live’s first attempt at implementing a single player career mode, Be a Pro is interesting to reflect upon as it differed greatly between the new gen and old gen versions of NBA Live 09, and not in the way you might expect. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: The Supreme Update Mod for NBA Live 07

Basketball in the Supreme Update Mod for NBA Live 07

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. This week, I’m taking a look back at the Supreme Update Mod for NBA Live 07.

Over the years, several amazing mods have been released in our community for both NBA Live and NBA 2K. Certain mods stand out as landmark releases though, delighting the community and inspiring other modders to produce great work of their own. Since it’s the tenth anniversary of NBA Live 07, and today also marks the 38th birthday of cover player Tracy McGrady, I thought that I’d talk about one of the most significant mods made for the game: the Supreme Update Mod. Undoubtedly one of the best projects to come out of our community, it’s about time that I profile it in a Wayback Wednesday feature.

It was one of the most comprehensive updates for a PC version of NBA Live, and a great example of teamwork and cooperation in the modding community, as well as technical innovation. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: ESPN Integration in NBA Live 07

ESPN Menu in NBA Live 07

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. This week, I’m taking a look back at ESPN Integration in NBA Live 07.

If I’m being completely honest, then I’ll have to admit that for a variety of reasons, I’m not the biggest fan of ESPN’s coverage of the NBA these days. They are obviously one of the league’s biggest partners though, and through ABC, their presenters have the call for the NBA Finals. Their branding is instantly recognisable to basketball fans, and it makes sense that EA Sports would also want to partner with them to bring authentic television presentation to NBA Live. It’s a relationship that began over a decade ago, with the implementation of ESPN Integration in NBA Live 07.

Although ESPN branding is now very prominent in NBA Live, it was a few games before it truly took over. It was a gradual transition in some respects, but as the original fifteen year agreement between the companies demonstrated, they were both in it for the long haul. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: The Mysterious 2K Insider

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. This week, I’m taking a look back at the infamous 2K Insider.

When I discussed some of the most memorable characters in basketball video games, it was pointed out to me that I’d forgotten about one of the most noteworthy individuals to appear in the NBA 2K series: the 2K Insider. A mysterious person behind the scenes and in the community, the 2K Insider – known only as “Sy” – was responsible for maintaining the rosters for NBA 2K. Within the games themselves, their avatar appeared as an advisor and mentor, providing basketball insights and offering up words of encouragement, as well as critique.

The 2K Insider hasn’t been a part of the more recent NBA 2K games, as he no longer fits the tone of MyCAREER. 2K has also taken the approach of recognising all the developers, ensuring that we know who is responsible for different aspects of the games, and opening up the channels of communication for constructive feedback. The Insider was a notable figure that led to a fair amount of speculation though, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: My NBA 2K13 MyCAREER

Finals MVP in NBA 2K13's MyCAREER

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. This week, I’m taking a look back at my memorable MyCAREER game in NBA 2K13.

I’ve been playing basketball video games for more than two decades now. There are two main reasons that I remain a fan of the genre: I’m passionate about the sport, and I’ve had so many fun experiences with both sim and arcade basketball games over the years. I’ve previously compiled a list of some of my favourite experiences, one of them being my MyCAREER game in NBA 2K13 PC, in which I played for the Denver Nuggets. An enjoyably successful rookie season with some interesting twists and turns set the bar high for future games, and indeed, it hasn’t been until this past year with NBA 2K17 that I’ve had a similarly great experience with MyCAREER.

It was the first time that I played MyCAREER almost exclusively, so NBA 2K13 stands as the game that really got me hooked on the mode, while developing a genuine interest in the single player career experience. Join me as I take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: The Referee in NBA Live 2000

Referee at Tip-Off 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 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. This week, I’m taking a look back at the addition of a referee in NBA Live 2000.

On this day in 1988, the NBA decided to add a third referee to officiating crews, a change that went into effect the following season. Referees are often unpopular figures in any sport, and the NBA has seen its fair share of officiating controversies over the years. Whether it’s some of Joey Crawford’s antics, free throw discrepancies, or other bewildering calls, I’m sure we can all name an incident involving a referee that makes our blood boil. The officiating in basketball video games tends to be more consistent – that’s how it’s programmed, after all – but until NBA Live 2000, EA’s games lacked an actual referee on the sidelines.

It probably doesn’t sound like a big deal now, as we obviously expect to see more than one referee on the sidelines of contemporary basketball video games. At the time however, it was a significant addition to the presentation in NBA Live. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: The ’91 Warriors & ’02 Kings in NBA 2K12

The '91 Warriors vs. the '02 Kings in NBA 2K12

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. This week, I’m taking a look back at the 1991 Golden State Warriors and 2002 Sacramento Kings in NBA 2K12.

As I discussed in a previous Wayback Wednesday retrospective, the success of the Jordan Challenge in NBA 2K11 and the looming lockout in 2011 gave Visual Concepts plenty of incentive to expand upon the historical content in the game. The result of course was NBA’s Greatest, which cut down on the specifics of the challenges (just win the games), but provided us with a larger roster of historical teams and NBA Legends. Deciding to take things one step further, 2K also provided basketball gamers with a couple of other historical teams to play with: the 1991 Golden State Warriors, and the 2002 Sacramento Kings.

Given the popularity and reputation of those two teams, the announcement of their inclusion was greeted with enthusiasm. However, their presence in the game wasn’t without controversy. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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