Wayback Wednesday

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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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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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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Wayback Wednesday: NLSC Art from the Archives

NBA Live Series Center Header

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.

As you may have seen, we’re currently celebrating the 20th Anniversary of NBA Live – a little past the date, but we want to finish what we’ve started – in a series of features that include retrospectives, in-depth articles, and even some patch releases. More of that content will be on the way shortly, with a retrospective of NBA Live 2001 being the next feature up. However, the NLSC itself has an anniversary coming up in the not too distant future. As of August, we’ll have been around for twenty years ourselves, in one form or another.

I expect that we’ll have some kind of celebrations, with some special content to mark the occasion. We might also look to spruce up our design a bit, as it’s been a few years since our last major renovation. The idea of freshening up our look prompted me to look back through the archives, both for ideas that will allow us to pay homage to our heritage in any new designs, as well as to simply take a stroll down memory lane.

Care to join me? If so, let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Kobe Bryant in NBA Video Games

Kobe Bryant's Final Game in NBA 2K16

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.

Kobe Bryant is set to play his final NBA game today, as the Los Angeles Lakers wrap up their 2016 season against the Utah Jazz. It marks the end of a long and successful career for one of the best players in the history of basketball, and the only player to suit up for the same NBA team for twenty seasons. Despite the fact that Kobe Bryant was often as reviled by NBA fans as much as he was loved, there’s been much nostalgia and celebration as his career has drawn to a close.

His long NBA career has meant that Kobe Bryant has appeared in numerous basketball video games over the past couple of decades. In fact, former teammate Shaquille O’Neal may be the only player with more official appearances in NBA titles, as he played nineteen years in the league himself, and has continued to be featured as a Legend following his retirement. So, as Kobe Bryant’s last NBA game looms, I thought I’d take a look back at his history in video games.

Kobe has of course appeared in every NBA title since he entered the NBA, but I’m just going to focus on some of the highlights here, kind of a glance back through the years. With that said, let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live’s Face in the Game

Created Player in NBA Live 2000 using Face in the Game

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.

While there’s still a long road ahead of the NBA Live series following its reboot with NBA Live 14, it has made some promising steps, and demonstrated some really good concepts. Something that I believe NBA Live 16 actually did a lot better than NBA 2K16 was the manner in which it allowed players to scan their faces into the game. I still haven’t been able to get NBA 2K’s face scan to work properly; conversely, I’ve found the NBA Live companion app much easier to use, and the results were very impressive.

Of course, this isn’t the first time that the NBA Live series has allowed players to put their faces into the game. The PC versions of NBA Live have obviously allowed for the creation of custom face textures through patching, but two games in the series – NBA Live 2000 and NBA Live 2001 – have actually facilitated the creation of custom faces in-game. The feature was called Face in the Game, and it actually worked quite well.

It’s an often overlooked feature from a time when EA Sports were being extremely innovative with the NBA Live series, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Failing to Mod NBA Jam TE on PC

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.

I’ve mentioned NBA Jam Tournament Edition a few times in previous features, as it’s one of my all-time favourite basketball video games, and in my opinion, one of the best arcade hoops games ever made. Appropriately enough, it was the subject of my first video feature for Wayback Wednesday. In that video, I mentioned that I once tried my hand at modding the game, as I wanted to replace Ron Harper with Michael Jordan.

Although I wouldn’t actually discover and get into the patching scene until my family first connected to the Internet in 1997 and I subsequently found the NLSC, those attempts to modify NBA Jam TE were an early indication of my interest in tinkering with basketball video games. I wasn’t successful in my efforts, and having looked into the matter again now that I know a bit more about modding, it unfortunately doesn’t appear to be feasible…at least with the PC version.

So, for this week’s Wayback Wednesday, I’m taking a look back at my early attempts to mod NBA Jam Tournament Edition on PC, as well as my more recent investigations. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live Championship Celebrations

NBA Live 96 Championship Video featuring the Chicago Bulls

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

A little while back, a visitor requested that we upload the championship celebration videos for NBA Live 95 through NBA Live 2000 to our YouTube channel. I finally got around to doing that last week, capturing the videos from the PC versions of those games while using the correct champions for each season. If you’ve subscribed to our channel then you may have already seen them, but I thought I’d also talk about them a little bit for this week’s Wayback Wednesday.

When CD-ROM became the popular format for video games back in the 90s, replacing floppy discs and cartridges, titles of all genres began making use of bigger and better quality media files, especially full motion video. In the PC and PlayStation versions of NBA Live, real NBA footage was used in both the introduction and championship celebration sequences. These days, it’s preferable to have elaborate cutscenes that utilise in-game assets, but back in the day, these videos were both a novelty and a fitting way to cap off a virtual championship.

Fancy a trip down memory lane? Then let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Rappers in NBA Live 2003

Unlocking Busta Rhymes in NBA Live 2003

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

Basketball video games have had their fair share of hidden players over the years, from the secret characters in NBA Jam to the dummied out and unlockable players in NBA Live and NBA 2K. In the case of NBA Live 2003, there were six players who were unlockable via codes, all of whom were rappers.

Granted, they weren’t as useful as the hidden rookies in NBA Live 2004, or the dummied out historical players in NBA Live 08. Nevertheless, the rappers in NBA Live 2003 were kind of a cool bonus, and could still be put to good use in special roster patches, such as the NBA Live Street mod. To unlock them, users simply had to input specific codes as the last name in Create-a-Player.

Do you remember which rappers were included in NBA Live 2003? Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: The Expansion Draft in NBA Live 96 SNES

Expansion Draft in NBA Live 96 SNES

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

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

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

Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Oklahoma City in NBA Live 09

The Oklahoma City Thunder logo, as it appeared in NBA Live 09

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

The relocation of the Seattle SuperSonics to Oklahoma City and their subsequent re-branding to the Thunder happened quite quickly during the offseason of 2008. On top of outrage and contempt, not only from Sonics fans but a lot of NBA fans in general, the rushed move also resulted in logos and jerseys that most people didn’t particularly care for. Disdain and animosity towards the Oklahoma City Thunder seemingly persists to this day, even after the team lost to the Miami Heat in the 2012 NBA Finals.

As you might imagine, the hectic relocation led to a late reveal of the Thunder’s designs, which ultimately had an impact on NBA Live 09. Because the official unveiling happened so late in the production cycle of NBA Live 09, EA Sports were forced to use placeholder branding for the Thunder, rather than their real logos, jerseys, and colours…at least initially. In the intro video for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 version of NBA Live 09, there’s even a clip of Kevin Durant wearing a Seattle SuperSonics jersey.

It was an unusual situation, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 2004’s Extra Teams

The Charlotte Bobcats vs, Spain in NBA Live 2004

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.

These days, we’re used to extra content in basketball video games, such as the historical squads in the NBA 2K series. While NBA Live currently doesn’t include any historical content outside of Ultimate Team (aside from retro jerseys, of course), the series used to feature All-Star teams comprised of players from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, along with a pool of Legends that could be placed on the current rosters. Of course, that’s not counting the historical teams that were intended to be in NBA Live 08, which were ultimately scrapped.

NBA Live 2004 featured the usual lineup of Decade All-Star Teams, which incidentally is the last time that Michael Jordan has (officially) appeared in an NBA Live game to date. However, NBA Live 2004 also featured two other bonus teams: the Charlotte Bobcats, who weren’t set to join the NBA until the following season, and the Spanish National Team. The former was revealed before NBA Live 2004’s release and available out of the box, while the latter had to be manually unlocked.

It was a somewhat unique situation as far as bonus content in NBA Live is concerned, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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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!

Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 08’s Hidden Historical Teams

Michael Jordan vs. Joe Dumars in the Ultimate Jordan Roster for NBA Live 08

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.

Throughout the history of video games, most titles have had a secret or two to discover. Of course, for as long as gamers have been searching for hidden secrets and extra content, urban legends and hoaxes have also been making the rounds, leading to many wasted hours looking for something that isn’t there. Basketball games are no exception, and the fact that some games have featured hidden and unlockable content has naturally led to rumours of all sorts of secret players, teams, and other features, none of which were actually true.

Outside of a supposed hidden and unlockable dunk contest, one of the most popular rumours in NBA Live over the years was that by completing certain objectives, you could unlock historical teams. Of course, to include historical teams in the first place, EA Sports would need to secure the likeness rights for a lot of players. As such, retro teams didn’t become a reality until 2K Sports finally added them in NBA 2K11 via the Jordan Challenge, and they’ve managed to keep a bulk of their historical content in the game up until today. However, it appears that EA Sports was actually trying to do something similar, back in the days of NBA Live 08.

It’s arguably one of the most interesting Easter Eggs we’ve ever discovered, while poking through the files of a basketball video game. So let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 2001 Easter Egg – Sub in The Clown

Clown Placeholder Face Texture from NBA Live 2001

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.

Beyond bugs and glitches in the programming itself, a common cause of video game crashes is the absence of required files, or the presence of damaged or corrupted ones. Delete a file, or try to modify it in a way that renders it unusable (or unstable), and you’re bound to see a crash. If you’ve ever tried some more advanced modding for NBA Live or NBA 2K, then chances are you’re very familiar with how trial and error, missing a step in the procedure, or simply tinkering with a sensitive game file can swiftly send you back to the desktop.

However, not all errors will cause lock-ups and crashes. When certain textures or model files are missing, some games will simply load a placeholder instead. In NBA Live, this has usually taken the form of pink, white, multi-coloured, and even basketball textures being loaded in place of missing faces and shoes, as well as a generic headshape if one can’t be found. In NBA 2K, it’s tended to be a blank, white texture. Way back in NBA Live 2001 though, EA Sports had a rather novel take on a stand-in texture: a clown face.

It’s one of the more amusing Easter Eggs that has been included in NBA Live, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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