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Monday Tip-Off: Ain’t No Love in the Heart of The City

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 my thoughts on how The City is perpetuating a troubling issue with MyCAREER and its connected modes.

Adding an open world environment to MyCAREER has, unsurprisingly, been a rather divisive decision since The Neighborhood debuted in NBA 2K18. Some gamers loved the idea, and were wowed from the very first reveal trailers. Others aren’t so keen on the concept, seeing it as a waste of time. Now that The City has taken its place in NBA 2K21 Next Gen, gamers who loved The Neighborhood have been delighted by an even larger hub world. Those who disliked The Neighborhood have no love for The City for many of the same reasons as before, only now on a much grander scale.

Of course, even if you love The City, the feeling isn’t mutual. There’s an aspect of The City that is, to quote a salient Reddit post, “downright contemptuous of players and hostile towards newer players”. Unlike The Neighborhood, The City isn’t welcoming to everyone; well, not immediately, anyway. This year, we have to prove that we’re worthy of taking part in the main hub world of MyCAREER, making use of all the familiar facilities that we’ve had at our disposal these past few years. To me, the title of Bobby Bland’s song – or for that matter, the Jay-Z song from the NBA 2K17 soundtrack, which sampled it – aptly describes The City’s cold, elitist heartlessness.

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The Friday Five: 5 Times NBL Players Appeared in Classic 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. This week’s Five lists five times that NBL players appeared in classic NBA video games.

After the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the original start of the season, the Australian NBL is tipping off its 2021 campaign today. I’ve always been more of an NBA fan, but I do have an affinity for my country’s league; even if my hometown has lost two teams since the league was founded here in 1979. In any event, it’s been great to see the NBL grow, and become a viable path to the NBA. Not only have more and more home-grown talents made it to the NBA, but American players are opting for the NBL over college. Examples include Terrance Ferguson, and more recently, LaMelo Ball.

The number of players who spent time in both leagues has resulted in several NBL alumni appearing in NBA video games. Luc Longley played two games for the Perth Wildcats in 1986 before he was drafted in 1991, and became the first Australian to play in the NBA. Journeyman point guard Doug Overton played a season for the Illawarra Hawks before beginning his NBA career with the Washington Bullets. You may be familiar with them thanks to their NBA careers and video game appearances, as well as more recent NBL alumni such as Joe Ingles and Torrey Craig. There are some older appearances you may not recall however, such as these five examples.

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Jam vs NBA Street

Wayback Wednesday: NBA Jam vs NBA Street

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 comparing the NBA Jam series to the NBA Street series.

It’s been over a year since I posted my first “Versus” feature, which compared The Jordan Challenge and NBA’s Greatest. My intention was for it to become a recurring feature, similar to my Familiar Faces in Strange Places/Familiar Places series. To that end, I’ve been sitting on a few ideas for other comparisons. Since I compared two modes in back-to-back releases in the same series for the first instalment, it only makes sense to go bigger for the second article. As such, today I’m comparing the two heavyweights of the arcade basketball scene: NBA Jam, and NBA Street.

There are many factors to consider here. There have been more NBA Jam games than NBA Street games, as well as a number of releases that were spiritual successors to NBA Jam under different titles, after Acclaim acquired the name from Midway. To that point, three different developers have released games under the NBA Jam brand, while every NBA Street game has come from EA Sports BIG. Nevertheless, I believe that all of the evidence must be considered, as we compare, contrast, and ultimately pick the winner out of these classic arcade hoops series. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Playing The Long Game

Monday Tip-Off: Playing The Long Game

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 recap of my experiences vying for The Long Game Trophy by playing all four years of a college career in The Long Shadow, NBA 2K21 Next Gen’s MyCAREER story.

I have to say that as far as Trophies and Achievements are concerned, The Long Game is aptly named. Spending four years in college at the start of a MyCAREER game is definitely a lengthy slog! There’s no simulating – not that you’d really want to, when you’re grinding for VC and Badges – and with only nine other teams, it can be repetitive. At the same time, the idea appealed to me. Less than 1% of PlayStation 5 gamers have attained the Trophy for completing The Long Game, so it’s obviously a rare feat. I figured it would be interesting to take the road less travelled.

It’s also the first time we’ve had this opportunity in MyCAREER. Every other game that’s included a college career has seen our MyPLAYER declare for the Draft after their freshman year. Now we actually have a choice, and it’s a decision that we have to weigh up as a real player might. Is it worth taking the extra time to develop before entering the league – especially as it’s grinding against easier competition – or do you go after the big bucks (or in this case, VC) as soon as you can? To me, the choice was easy. I’ve been a one-and-done player before; now that I have the opportunity, I’m playing The Long Game! Please be advised that there are some story spoilers ahead.

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The Friday Five: 5 Odd Technical Issues 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. This week’s Five is a list of five odd technical issues that have been present in various basketball games over the years.

Games (and software in general) having bugs are a fact of life. Among older gamers such as myself, there’s sometimes an erroneous belief that the games we grew up with didn’t have such technical issues. Before patches were viable, developers did have to ensure that games were as bug-free as possible before they shipped, but many of the all-time classics have glitches of some description. Of course, on top of the need to stamp out bugs before games were finalised on cartridge and disc, the simplicity of those older games avoided some of the pitfalls of their more complex descendants.

To put it another way, the bigger video games have grown, the more bugs and other technical issues they’re prone to having. When it comes to PC games, the need to support a variety of hardware also provides further challenges. To that end, while there are several valid criticisms we can and should make of basketball video games, the mere presence of technical issues doesn’t indicate laziness, incompetence, or a lack of care. If making games and software that were entirely bug-free were easy – or indeed, possible – we’d see it happen. With that being said, various hoops titles have had notably odd bugs and technical issues, and today, I’m looking at five of them.

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live Street 2003 Retrospective

Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live Street 2003 Retrospective

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 NBA Live Street 2003.

Yes, you read that correctly: NBA Live Street 2003. No, this isn’t some spin-off game of both the NBA Live and NBA Street series that you’ve forgotten all about! NBA Live Street 2003 was a mod for NBA Live 2003 PC, inspired by the NBA Street series. It was one of the first major total conversion mods in the community, one that went on to inspire several other street mods and big projects. It demonstrated what a team of modders could accomplish when they worked together, as well as many of the possibilities with player-specific custom textures.

NBA Live Street 2003 is still available to download. With a little bit of work, you can run NBA Live 2003 on a modern PC, and check it out for yourself. Before you jump into that though, how about a preview of what you can expect to find in this classic mod? Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: I’ve Got To Use My Imagination

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 some thoughts on how we no longer have to use our imagination when it comes to career and franchise modes.

Yes, the title of this week’s column is indeed a reference to a song by Gladys Knight & the Pips. That’s about as far as the reference goes, however. Truth be told, I only know the song because Forrest Gump is one of my all-time favourite movies, and it’s on its soundtrack. In any case, imagination is a core component of gaming, no matter the genre. Whether we’re playing single player or multiplayer, we immerse ourselves in a virtual world. We share the goal of the player character, whether it’s saving the world, winning a championship, or causing mayhem as a goose.

Imagination has always been – and to some extent still is – a big part of basketball gaming. Whether we’re assuming the role of a general manager or coach, taking control of a star player, or stepping onto the hardwood or blacktop with our own avatar, there’s an element of fantasy at play. Of course, many years ago, we had to be far more imaginative as far as scenarios and stories. In franchise and career play, we filled in the gaps, created our own back stories, and would even role-play in our story section. These days, we don’t have to use our imagination so much, especially in the story-driven MyCAREER. Needless to say, there are benefits and drawbacks to this.

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The Friday Five: 5 Things You’re Too Late To Get

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 things in various basketball games that you’re too late to get, if you don’t already have them.

Happy New Year, basketball gamers! Welcome to the start of another year here at the NLSC, and another twelve months of basketball gaming. With another nine months before we see the next NBA 2K game, we can expect to see plenty of content for both the Next Gen and Current Gen versions of NBA 2K21; especially in MyTEAM, as there’s cross-generation progression. Of course, with the new Seasons approach, some rewards are already off the table. If you didn’t level up or finish the challenges by the time the previous Seasons ended, you’re now too late to get those goodies.

That’s not uncommon these days, what with the “games as a service” model that more and more developers are gravitating towards, including Visual Concepts. We’ve seen similar tactics in NBA Live too, albeit mostly with cosmetic items in LIVE Events. Developers are looking to capitalise on FOMO whenever they can, and as much as we may hate to admit it, it’s a highly effective tactic. With that being said, it’s not just new games where we can feel as though we’ve missed out. Certain content, and even full games that were digital-only releases, are now gone forever. These five things are no longer available, so if you want them, then that’s too bad; it’s now far too late.

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25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 19 Retrospective

25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 19 Retrospective

To mark the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live, we’re taking a look back at every game in the series with retrospectives and other fun content! This also includes re-running some features from our 20th Anniversary celebrations, with a few revisions. Whether you’re a long-time basketball gamer who grew up with NBA Live and are keen on taking a trip down memory lane, or you’re new to the series and want to learn about its history, we hope that you enjoy celebrating the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live here at the NLSC! At long last, it’s a retrospective of NBA Live 19.

And so, we’ve come to the final game in the NBA Live series to date, and thus the final retrospective in our 25th Anniversary of NBA Live content! I have to say that it’s been a wild ride to experience the ups and downs again, revisiting every title in the series one by one. I hope that you’ve enjoyed it too, even as we’ve revisited some of the weaker games. On that note, unfortunately the most recent NBA Live game isn’t one of the better releases, at least in my book. Those of us who would prefer that NBA Live focus on the NBA experience were hoping against hope that NBA Live 19 would be a return to form, but sadly, it picked up where NBA Live 18 left off.

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25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 18 Retrospective

25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 18 Retrospective

To mark the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live, we’re taking a look back at every game in the series with retrospectives and other fun content! This also includes re-running some features from our 20th Anniversary celebrations, with a few revisions. Whether you’re a long-time basketball gamer who grew up with NBA Live and are keen on taking a trip down memory lane, or you’re new to the series and want to learn about its history, we hope that you enjoy celebrating the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live here at the NLSC! Next up is a retrospective of NBA Live 18.

We’re almost at the end of our retrospectives, with just two games left to cover. Before we begin, which do you prefer: the NBA, or streetball? NBA Live 18 aimed to give us the best of both worlds, in the form of The League and The Streets. Even the cover emphasised the duality of the game, with two pictures of James Harden: one in his Houston Rockets uniform, the other in a plain singlet and shorts. The game wasn’t a disaster, nor was it a complete departure from previous titles in the series. It was clear that NBA Live was headed in a new direction though, and not everyone was happy about that; especially long-time fans of the series.

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25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 16 Retrospective

25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 16 Retrospective

To mark the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live, we’re taking a look back at every game in the series with retrospectives and other fun content! This also includes re-running some features from our 20th Anniversary celebrations, with a few revisions. Whether you’re a long-time basketball gamer who grew up with NBA Live and are keen on taking a trip down memory lane, or you’re new to the series and want to learn about its history, we hope that you enjoy celebrating the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live here at the NLSC! Next up is a retrospective of NBA Live 16.

I have mixed feelings when I look back at NBA Live 16. On one hand, it’s a very solid game that was an improvement on NBA Live 15. I also had the opportunity to play it early, and to date, that was the last community event that I attended. On the other hand, the game also introduced concepts that while fun, have since taken the series in the wrong direction upon becoming the main focus. That makes it a pivotal title in the series, and in hindsight, there were some red flags about what was to come. At the same time, the good things that it did were cause for optimism, and deserve credit. With that in mind, NBA Live 16 is a rather interesting release to reflect upon.

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Wayback Wednesday: Overall Ratings in NBA 2K9

Wayback Wednesday: Overall Ratings 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 some of the unusual Overall Ratings in NBA 2K9.

In the mailbag segment of Episode #354 of the NLSC Podcast, Dee4Three and I talked about bad ratings in basketball video games throughout the years. There are plenty of examples, from odd ratings in NBA Jam Tournament Edition, to the new ratings scale in NBA Live 2004 producing some weird results. Derek brought up the Overall Ratings in NBA 2K9, which is an example I wasn’t too familiar with. NBA 2K9 isn’t a game that I’ve spent too much time with over the years, and when I have fired it up, I haven’t paid too much attention to the Overall Ratings.

Once it was brought up, however, I figured I had to check it out and perhaps discuss it further in Wayback Wednesday. Now that I’ve gone through the rosters, I would agree that there are some weirdly overrated players, considering their performance during the 2009 season, and the way that Overall Ratings above 90 are usually treated (or at least were, several years ago). With so many questionably inflated Overall Ratings in NBA 2K9, it’s worth taking a look back…way back…

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25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 15 Retrospective

25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 15 Retrospective

To mark the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live, we’re taking a look back at every game in the series with retrospectives and other fun content! This also includes re-running some features from our 20th Anniversary celebrations, with a few revisions. Whether you’re a long-time basketball gamer who grew up with NBA Live and are keen on taking a trip down memory lane, or you’re new to the series and want to learn about its history, we hope that you enjoy celebrating the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live here at the NLSC! Next up is a retrospective of NBA Live 15.

Although NBA Live 14 had been a rough comeback, the mere fact that it was actually released gave us hope that the series wasn’t done. There was a lot of work to be done, though: modes and features needed to be added, mechanics and animations needed to be enhanced, and more authenticity was required. NBA Live 15 took a few steps in the right direction, but it wasn’t a big enough jump. It was a better game than NBA Live 14, no doubt, but that was a low bar to clear. Interestingly, it also dropped a few ideas that were actually worth keeping. Let’s take a closer look at the second year in NBA Live’s comeback attempt, and see what went right, and what went wrong.

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25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 14 Retrospective

25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 14 Retrospective

To mark the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live, we’re taking a look back at every game in the series with retrospectives and other fun content! This also includes re-running some features from our 20th Anniversary celebrations, with a few revisions. Whether you’re a long-time basketball gamer who grew up with NBA Live and are keen on taking a trip down memory lane, or you’re new to the series and want to learn about its history, we hope that you enjoy celebrating the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live here at the NLSC! Next up is a retrospective of NBA Live 14.

At long last, the NBA Live series returned in 2013 with NBA Live 14. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 had been left behind, with the game being a launch title for the new Xbox One and PlayStation 4. There were a lot of expectations heading into NBA Live 14, and there’s no point burying the lead here: it didn’t quite live up to them. There were bright spots and interesting ideas in the game though, so it wasn’t for a lack of effort. For better or worse, it’s still part of the series’ lineage, so it’s important that we reflect upon it; especially as we look to the future and hope that NBA Live can one day make a strong comeback. We’re on the home stretch now, so let’s get into it.

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Monday Tip-Off: 2020 Year in Review

Monday Tip-Off: 2020 Year in Review

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 look back at the year that was 2020 here at the NLSC.

I think it’s fair to say that 2020 has been one of the most unusual years that many of us have ever experienced. For me, it’s both flown by – as the years seem to do as you get older – yet it’s also dragged. The COVID-19 pandemic has obviously disrupted life as we know it in so many ways, and contributed to 2020 being somewhat miserable. On top of that, we’ve lost some beloved athletes and celebrities, including Kobe Bryant. Although the hardships of the pandemic are not over yet, it’s safe to say that a lot of people are looking forward to a fresh start in 2021.

At the same time, there have been bright spots. The Next Gen consoles launched, and while it hasn’t been easy getting hold of one, people who do own them generally seem to be happy with them. Here at the NLSC, we were able to keep doing our thing for another year as far as producing content and supporting the modding community, and we also officially added a new member to our team. 2020 is a year that I’m sure a lot of people would rather be done with and soon forget, but since this is the last Monday Tip-Off of the year – there will be a Wayback Wednesday this week, and then The Friday Five will open 2021 – I’m taking the opportunity to look back at 2020.

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