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Wayback Wednesday: The History of Jumpshots in Video Games

Kevin Durant shoots over Nicolas Batum (NBA 2K14)

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 history of jumpshots in basketball video games.

Jumpshots are a basic staple of basketball, and one of the most common ways of scoring; especially in the modern era. With that in mind, it’s strange that they used to be one of the weaker aspects of the mechanics in basketball video games. In the early days of basketball gaming, jumpshots were nowhere near as reliable as they should have been. I even remember a strategy guide for NBA Live 96 basically advising against taking jumpshots and in particular long two-pointers, citing that they had all of the difficulty and risk of three-pointers, without the added reward of an extra point.

Thinking back on it now, that advice actually predicted the rise of analytics, as well as disdain for shooting from midrange. Of course, while opting for shots right at the rim or from beyond the arc and eschewing the midrange is all about efficiency in the modern NBA, in old school basketball video games, it was about effectiveness. Until the mechanics were properly developed, taking a jumpshot – even a wide open ten footer along the baseline – was unrealistically risky on the virtual hardwood. You can call this piece The History of Jumpshots in Video Games (Or, Why Shot Meters Are Important). Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: TV Sports Basketball

TV Sports Basketball Pre-Game Intro

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 Cinemaware’s TV Sports Basketball, released in 1990.

Cinemaware is a name that may ring a bell for older gamers, but is likely unfamiliar to the younger crowd. That’s because like so many other early game developers who went bankrupt by the 90s, they only exist as a brand and library of releases that has since been purchased by another company; in this case, Swedish game developer and publisher, Starbreeze. Cinemaware made some fine games in their day, and as with many other titles from the early days of video games, it’s fortunate that they’ve been preserved and made available through another company purchasing their assets.

The Cinemaware game that I grew up playing had nothing to do with basketball. It was their first game, a medieval action strategy title called Defender of the Crown. As with many of Cinemaware’s releases, it found its way onto several platforms, with the NES version being the one I own. Until I picked up the Cinemaware Anthology on Steam at Kenny’s suggestion, I had no idea that they also released a basketball game for Amiga and MS-DOS in 1990: TV Sports Basketball. I enjoy discovering these old basketball games that I missed out on at the time and checking them out to see what they had to offer, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Music in Basketball Video Games

NBA Live 19 Mixtape

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. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on the role that music plays in the basketball gaming experience.

One of the most recent patches for NBA Live 19 added a new song featuring Jadakiss, further demonstrating that all kinds of new content can be added post-release these days. Reactions to the new song can basically be broken up into three main responses. If you dig the track, it’s cool to see and hear it in the game. If it’s not your sound, you might grumble about the lack of “real music” among the tracks. If you don’t have any strong feelings about the song, you’ll likely be largely indifferent, except perhaps for some frustration that it didn’t constitute a more significant addition or update.

For most basketball gamers, the soundtrack ultimately doesn’t make or break a title. The action on the virtual hardwood is of much greater importance; you can always mute the soundtrack and put on your own music, but you can’t always find a way to enjoy the experience when there are significant gameplay flaws, or the modes are lacking. Nevertheless, in its own way, music has been an important part of basketball gaming over the years. It’s easy to think of it as nothing but background noise, but it does subtly influence our opinions of games, and shapes our nostalgia for them. In some cases, it can even affect us beyond our view of the games themselves.

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The Friday Five: 5 NBA Seasons I’m Oddly Nostalgic For

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 seasons that I’m oddly nostalgic for.

Way back in 2013, the first year of The Friday Five, I listed my top five favourite NBA seasons. That list is still accurate, putting aside the fact that I tried to restrict the number of Chicago Bulls championship years that I included. If I were to remove that restriction, my top five would be 1996, 1997, 1998, 1993, and 1992, with 1991 being an honourable mention. Back in 2017, I discussed five basketball video games that I’m oddly nostalgic for, given that they’re widely considered to be problematic, and don’t necessarily rank among my all-time favourites, either.

I mention those previous articles in part to promote the archives of my content, but also because this week, I’m combining the two concepts. Just as there are NBA video games that I’m nostalgic for despite their issues, there are NBA seasons that I feel nostalgic for even though by all accounts, they should be among my least favourite. Video games do play a part in that of course, and since I am mashing together the ideas of two previous articles, I will touch on them in this piece as well. It’s not just my experiences on the virtual hardwood that make me nostalgic for these seasons though, as the action in the real NBA was interesting in its own right.

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Monday Tip-Off: Online vs. Offline in Basketball Gaming

Playing online in LIVE Run (NBA Live 19)

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. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on the divide between online and offline enthusiasts within the basketball gaming community, and how it’s affecting the development of hoops titles.

By definition, fanatics are not always logical, with measured, reasonable opinions. It’s a rare fanbase that doesn’t have some sort of schism, if not a multitude of factions that hold differing opinions. I touched on one such example in last week’s feature, noting that there’s often dissonance when it comes to younger gamers, and those who have been playing basketball games for a long time (in some cases, more than a couple of decades). There are a lot of things that most basketball gamers want and can agree on, but also some very different ideas about features, identity, and overall direction.

The most noticeable schism within the basketball gaming community would have to be between online and offline gamers. The rise of online gaming in general, and the expansion of multiplayer modes in basketball games specifically, has led to a faction of hoops gamers who play exclusively online, with little interest in the offline modes. At the same time, there are a lot of gamers who prefer the single player experience. In the middle of the Venn diagram are gamers who play both online and offline to some extent, sitting in the crossfire of two passionate factions who are not only taking shots at developers, but also each other. Unfortunately, it makes us a hard group to please.

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Wayback Wednesday: Cheat Codes in Basketball Video Games

Menu for Cheat Codes in NBA 2K13

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 some of the cheat codes that were featured in older basketball games.

When it comes to video game nostalgia, a feature that many of us old school gamers remember fondly is the cheat code. These days, accelerating progress in most games comes down to pay-to-win mechanics, but once upon a time, we used cheat codes in the form of passwords and button combinations. While cheat codes aren’t completely outmoded, they seem to be far less common than they once were. In basketball games, they’ve generally been phased out over the past generation or so.

It’s kind of a shame. While they aren’t necessary – especially in sim games – they were often fun ways of altering the gameplay experience, and hid some cool secrets. Some games used them to unlock new content with the codes being revealed at some point post-launch; something of a precursor to the content updates we now see. There have been quite a few memorable cheat codes in basketball video games over the years, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: What Actually Ruins Basketball Video Games?

Victor Oladipo in NBA 2K19

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. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on the matter of what actually ruins basketball video games, and what are really more minor gripes.

Having been a part of the online basketball gaming community for over twenty years and admin of the NLSC for going on eighteen, I’ve both seen and taken part in some spirited discussions about the hobby. Our conversations about basketball video games have run the gamut from excitedly positive to furiously negative, depending on the issue and the quality of any given title. Given that we all have different tastes and expectations of basketball video games, our opinions will differ when it comes what will ruin our experience on the virtual hardwood. That’s fine, and to be encouraged!

Of course, it’s easy to exaggerate, especially when a pet peeve is involved. I recall one Forum member fuming over the use of the word “City” on the team statistics menu in NBA Live 2001. As they correctly pointed out, teams such as the Warriors, Jazz, and Pacers all take their names from their state rather than their city, making that label inaccurate. It’s a valid point, but a minor detail that was correct for most of the teams, and a criticism that paled in comparison with other issues in NBA Live 2001. Such issues are worth pointing out, but as we compile our Wishlists, it’s important that we prioritise problems that can ruin basketball video games, ahead of minor annoyances.

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Wayback Wednesday: Old School Introduction Videos

NBA Live 96 Introduction Video Capture

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 introduction videos that were featured in old school basketball video games.

I’ve been producing Wayback Wednesday as a weekly feature since November 2015, and yet somehow, I’ve never discussed the introduction videos that were featured in old basketball games. I’ve talked about music, and I even posted a breakdown of NBA 2K12’s introduction video with comparisons to the real highlight clips, but I’ve yet to profile the intros that greeted us upon firing up some of our old favourites, despite the fact it’s a very obvious choice of topic for a Wayback Wednesday feature. Well, better late than never, right?

Lengthy introduction videos are seemingly being phased out, but you certainly don’t have to be a grizzled basketball gamer in your 30s to remember them. However, there was something special about the intros in old school basketball games. If you watch them today, you might just feel pumped up to play those old titles again, just as you were all those years ago. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Hoops Universe Released; Available in our Downloads Database

Hoops Universe Preview

NLSC Forum member Dr has released a new basketball video game titled Hoops Universe. The game is completely free and features customisable graphics, with a default roster filled with fictional teams and players. Created in Stencyl, the game will run on both PC and Mac.

Hoops Universe features a retro-themed aesthetic, similar in style to old games such as Double Dribble, or Namo Gamo’s Basketball Classics. The current release is a work-in-progress, and Dr B is inviting feedback over in the NLSC Forum. A fully-fledged game may be released on Steam at some point, but for now, releases will be made freely available in our Downloads database.

Check it out here! For more information, previews, support, and feedback, please see this Forum topic.

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The Friday Five: 5 Most Significant Years in Basketball Gaming

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to 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 lists what I feel are the five most significant years in the history of basketball gaming.

2019 is upon us, and as always, I’m hoping that it’ll end up being a fantastic year for basketball gaming! Hopefully, we’ll be able to get a lot of enjoyment out of the 2018 releases for the next eight or nine months, and then get our hands on even better titles to close out the year. While the success of basketball games ultimately rests with their respective developers, we shouldn’t underestimate the impact that we can have as a community. As such, it’s important that we speak up with constructive feedback, so that we can do our part in making 2019 a big year on the virtual hardwood.

There have been quite a few milestone years for basketball video games over the past three decades. They’ve marked significant improvements within the genre, through the release of many memorable games that have gone down as classics. Of course, there are also years that have been significant in terms of basketball gaming for far less positive reasons. As we tip off a new year and hope for the best when it comes to the future of basketball gaming, I feel there’s value in looking back at the road that hoops games have travelled. After all, it’s essential that forthcoming games not only build upon the success of their predecessors, but also avoid some of their pitfalls.

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The Friday Five: 5 Ways the CPU Messes With You

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 lists five ways that the CPU will mess with us in basketball video games.

As we all know, multiplayer gaming has its ups and downs. Whether it’s the pain of getting less than ideal teammates online, the frustration of encountering cheesers who spam exploits, or dealing with that one friend who takes things too far messing with you while you’re sitting on the same couch, there are times when you’d prefer to be enjoying single player gameplay. Of course, the single player/offline experience isn’t immune to such chicanery, as games will pull some dirty tricks in order to prevent you from beating them. CPU opponents in basketball games are no different.

To some extent, this is a necessary evil. As far as basketball games have come, they still have limitations. Gameplay is now more realistic with CPU opponents that are bolstered by AI that is smarter, but it still can’t match the creativity and cleverness of a human brain. Tilting a few aspects of the game in the CPU’s favour and including comeback mechanics allows it to be competitive and challenging, though can feel like artificial difficulty. There are also moments that are more benign and don’t necessarily stand in the way of winning, but nevertheless feel like the CPU is messing with us. Here are five examples of the CPU thumbing its nose at us on the virtual hardwood.

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Monday Tip-Off: Holidays on the Virtual Hardwood

Holidays on the Virtual Hardwood (NBA Jam: On Fire Edition)

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. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on what I’ll be doing on the virtual hardwood these holidays.

With 2018 rapidly drawing to a close and Christmas Eve upon us, I’m in the mood to kick back with some gaming on the virtual hardwood…and maybe the virtual blacktop as well. While I’ll be spending time with family, going away with friends over New Year’s, and of course preparing future content for the NLSC, I’m looking forward to just relaxing with one of my favourite hobbies. With no less than four current hoops games out at the moment, the holidays make the process of juggling several titles a little bit easier.

Being that it is one of my favourite hobbies, basketball gaming is something that I’ve come to associate with the holidays. The school holidays were a time when my cousin and I would run franchise games in NBA Live 2000, replay the 1995 season in NBA Live 95, and defeat and play with every team in NBA Jam Tournament Edition. These days, I don’t have as long of a break and do have a few more responsibilities to get back to, but I’ll still have time to hit the virtual hardwood. The question is: what will I focus on playing as I wind down 2018? These are my current basketball gaming plans for the next week or so.

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Monday Tip-Off: Double-Dipping With Basketball Games

Michael Jordan Card in MyTEAM (NBA 2K19)

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. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on double-dipping with basketball games on multiple platforms.

As someone who grew up playing a variety of video games on both computers and consoles, I’ve never cared for PC vs Console wars. I’ve enjoyed the hobby on both platforms, with the benefits that they each provide. Whether I’ve played a game on PC or console depends on whether or not it’s available on all platforms, the hardware I’ve had at my disposal, and if multiplayer is involved, which platform my friends are on. Of course, there are some games that I’ve enjoyed so much that I ended up double-dipping and buying them on a second platform as well.

Needless to say, basketball games are among the titles I’ve double-dipped with. In fact, when it comes to NBA 2K, I’ve double-dipped in recent years with the PC and PlayStation 4 versions; the former for single player gameplay and modding, and the latter for online play with the other members of the NLSC squad. While it’s worked out for me, in particular helping out with content creation and news coverage, I have to admit that one version of the game has usually somewhat gone to waste. With the amount of time we can sink into basketball games these days, it’s difficult to get the most out of a title on two different platforms. This year, I’m trying to remedy that.

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The Friday Five: 5 Times Games Messed Up Player Appearances

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 lists five times that basketball games noticeably messed up player appearances.

Developing basketball games – or any video games, for that matter – is harder than a lot of people realise. It bears mentioning, as some gamers do go overboard in their criticism and suggest that making a flawless game is a simple task. In our modding community, we have a bad habit of denouncing the art teams in particular. It should be noted that it’s a lot easier to mod a finished game than it is to create one in the first place, and that individual modders aren’t under the same restrictions when it comes to spending a lot of time on a single player face, or other art assets.

With that being said, there are times when there have been notably unusual mistakes or unimpressive results, particularly when it comes to player appearances. I’m not just referring to player faces that don’t look as realistic as we’d like, though there certainly have been some noteworthy examples in that vein over the years. However, there are times when player appearances have been messed up in ways that go well beyond a cyberface that looks a little off. Be it an oversight in development, some kind of technical limitation, or another cause entirely, here are five times that we looked at a player in a hoops game and noticed that something definitely wasn’t quite right.

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Wayback Wednesday: Trivia in Basketball Games

Trivia in NBA 2K9

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 trivia in basketball games.

Wait a minute, I hear you saying. Don’t most of my Wayback Wednesday features concern trivia about basketball games, specifically titles that are at least a few years old? Well, yes, but this time, I’m talking about the way that basketball games have literally indulged in trivia, presenting gamers with questions that they can answer as well as listing interesting NBA facts. So yes, I am getting a little meta here, presenting some trivia about trivia in basketball games! After all, it’s something that has been featured in various titles over the years, dating way back to the mid 90s.

It may seem like an unusual feature to focus upon, but I do believe that it’s part of the nostalgia for some beloved favourites. It’s also a concept that has evolved over time, and come to be used for more practical and tangible purposes. With that being said, let’s take a look back…way back…

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