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Monday Tip-Off: Thoughts on MyTEAM Seasons

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 the new Seasons approach adopted in NBA 2K21’s MyTEAM.

One of the major changes in NBA 2K21’s MyTEAM was the adoption of Seasons. For those unfamiliar with the concept, MyTEAM Seasons run for about six weeks, with each Season featuring its own theme, content, and Challenges. While modes of play such as Domination remain unaffected by Seasons, and Triple Threat Offline simply gains new rewards as each new Season begins, Season-based content such as The Agenda has a time limit. If you have any unfinished business on The Agenda by the time a new Season begins, too bad; it’s a new day in MyTEAM.

The Seasons approach is not unique to MyTEAM and NBA 2K, of course. It’s a form of the “games as a service” model that mobile and Triple-A games alike are using with ever-increasing frequency, which invites cynicism because of the way those mechanics utilise FOMO to push microtransactions, season passes, and so on. Less cynically, however, it’s a way to keep content fresh and not overwhelm late adopters with an overabundance of content. I’m generally in favour of Seasons in MyTEAM, but I do have a few criticisms and concerns that I’d like to discuss. Along with a few other aspects of the mode, the approach could be even better in NBA 2K22.

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The Friday Five: 5 Old Basketball Games That Shot Up In Price

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 old basketball games that have shot up in price on the collectors’ market in recent years.

When it comes to sourcing copies of old NBA Live and NBA 2K releases, you won’t end up paying too much. Got your hands on an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, and feel like taking a trip down memory lane with NBA Live 10? Even on eBay, you’ll likely pay less than ten dollars, Australian or US. Even games from the 90s – such as the Super Nintendo or Sega Genesis/Mega Drive version of NBA Live 95 – are generally cheap, as there are quite a number of copies in circulation. You might pay a little more for complete-in-box, but they’re mostly very affordable to collect.

And then, there are the old basketball games that have shot up in price. Last year I took a look at five old basketball games that are very expensive to collect, and there’s some overlap with this article. However, I’ve been made aware of some other titles that are tough to affordably source, at least through a market like eBay. Old basketball games are somewhat of a niche genre when it comes to video game collecting, and as I noted, many of them are too common to fetch a high price just because of their age. They’re still affected by the same trends as retro game collecting in general though, especially if they’re legitimately rare and highly sought after, as some of these are.

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Wayback Wednesday: Stints Lasting Longer Than I Remembered

Wayback Wednesday: Stints Lasting Longer Than I Remembered

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 stints that lasted longer than I remembered, and the games that corrected me.

I’ll never claim to be an infallible source of knowledge, whether I’m talking about real basketball or basketball video games. There’s a lot of stuff I remember off the top of my head, but I’ve certainly found that it pays to double-check and look things up. When it comes to the players I grew up watching, I tend to have a good memory as far as who they played for, how long they played for them, and when they moved on to a new team. However, my recall definitely isn’t perfect. As such, when I revisit an old game, I’m sometimes surprised to see a player still on a particular team’s roster.

Yes, this is another example of basketball video games being interactive almanacs. As I’ve said, it’s one of the most appealing parts of dusting off old video games: seeing that snapshot of the NBA at the time they were developed. Just as there’s something really fun about seeing familiar faces in strange places, or back in familiar places for that matter, it’s interesting to be reminded of stints that lasted longer than I recalled. As usual, I’m looking at these examples through the lens of the games that reminded me of these tenures. With that being said, let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: The Case of the Mysterious Screenshot

Monday Tip-Off: The Case of the Mysterious Screenshot

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 the story about a mysterious screenshot that I found in my collection.

For a long time – far too long, in fact – I left my weekly articles until the last minute. Not just writing them, but coming up with the topic, too. Even after I devised lists of ideas for future articles, I didn’t always have anything prepared by the time Monday, Wednesday, and Friday rolled around. In recent years, I’ve made a point of building up a buffer of articles based on my list of topic ideas. It’s meant that I’ve always got something ready to go, and if I’ve set aside the time, I’m able to schedule features a week or two in advance.

This prep work has been important for time management, consistency, and quality. Even though I’ve been pleased with certain articles that were actually written at the last minute, I’m far more satisfied with features that I haven’t had to rush. Part of preparing articles in advance is ensuring that I have appropriate screenshots to use, which means taking the time to fire up the necessary games to capture them, and set up any specific scenarios as required. It’s usually obvious why I have a particular screenshot in my archives, but recently I discovered one that left me stumped. This mysterious screenshot was for an article idea that I’ve completely forgotten about.

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The Friday Five: 5 Cover Players You May Not Recall

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 players that you may not recall appearing on a game cover.

Although cover players have no bearing on the quality of basketball video games – some of the best releases have featured unpopular choices in that regard – they’re still one of the first things that we picture when we think of specific games. Enthusiastic basketball gamers will most likely be able to name the cover player of any given title they’re familiar with, at least when it comes to the main face of the game. Things get trickier when it comes to the international versions, where regional cover players are used to appeal to the local market.

In recent years, announcing and promoting regional/alternate covers has become a bigger part of the preview season. Several years ago, however, those covers weren’t always well-known outside of the markets that received them, with some flying under the radar for many years. As such, one can be forgiven for thinking that some of them are bootlegs or the work of Photoshop, but physical copies of the games prove that they’re legitimate. Although these versions are usually identical to the main release – except their language in some cases – there’s a certain novelty to them, making them sought-after collectibles. Of course, tracking them down often isn’t cheap or easy.

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Wayback Wednesday: NCAA Basketball Retrospective

Wayback Wednesday: NCAA Basketball 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 NCAA Basketball for the Super Nintendo.

With Baylor’s victory and another March Madness in the books, I’m taking a look back at one final college basketball game. It’s a game that I’ve covered twice before in Wayback Wednesday, albeit under two different titles: World League Basketball, and Super Dunk Shot. As I mentioned in those features, this 1992 release developed by Sculptured Software changed its name and content according to the region it was released in. To that end, depending on whether you’re in North America, a PAL region, or Japan, you’ll be nostalgic for a different version of the same game.

Since Australia is a PAL region, the version of the game that I grew up with was World League Basketball. Now that I’ve picked up a Universal Adapter for my Super Nintendo, I’ve been able to collect Super Dunk Shot and NCAA Basketball, and play them on my PAL hardware. Obviously it’s a very familiar experience in terms of gameplay, but the different teams and format make it a real novelty to play the other versions. On top of that, NCAA Basketball holds up as one of the best college hoops titles of its era. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Ready (To Not Be) Player One

Monday Tip-Off: Ready (To Not Be) Player One

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 more thoughts on the online scene in NBA 2K. Specifically, in order to improve the quality of play, gamers must be ready to not be Player One.

I’m fortunate in that I’m not completely reliant on the online scene to enjoy basketball video games. I grew up gaming in a time before online play was common – or for that matter, possible – on the virtual hardwood. Dynasty was my mode of choice in NBA Live, and I’ve also racked up many hours playing single player MyCAREER in NBA 2K. I’m therefore able to enjoy the offline experience, which is vital given that the online scene in NBA 2K has a myriad of problems, ranging from technical issues and design flaws to toxic attitudes and a sloppy style of play.

At the same time, while I find it easy to eschew the online scene, I would prefer it to be better than it is. Obviously I’d like to jump in on occasion, having developed an appreciation for it over the past generation. Even if I’m not partaking in it myself, I’d still like to see the scene thrive and be the best possible experience for those who are playing it; especially gamers who play exclusively online. I’ve previously discussed vital changes that the developers need to implement, such as proper matchmaking. Today however, I want to focus on the problem of how so many gamers aren’t ready to drop their Player One mentality online, and how that could possibly be remedied.

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The Friday Five: 5 Small Ways Games Went That Extra Mile

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 small ways that basketball games have gone that extra mile in their details.

The small details in basketball video games are a funny thing. It’s possible to obsess over them too much, to the point of nitpicking. Nothing makes us appear to be an unpleasable fanbase quite like overreacting to a minor error or missing detail that most people would never notice, and hardly ruins the entire game. At the same time, attention to detail is important, and we do notice when games go that extra mile in order to be fun and immersive. Even if it’s purely cosmetic, we’re likely to say “hey, that’s awesome” once we’ve seen it.

It may be a detail that we can barely see during gameplay, but it adds authenticity that we can appreciate when replays take us closer to the action. It may be functionality that improves the quality of the experience, or contributes to the atmosphere. In some cases, it may even be content that gets patched in, adding a level of detail that we didn’t expect. Whatever the case may be, the developers went that extra mile to make the game better in small ways. I’m sure we all have our favourite examples of little details that impressed us when we discovered them, and so today I’m sharing five of mine, in no particular order. Hats off to the developers for these efforts!

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Wayback Wednesday: College Hoops 2K8 Retrospective

Wayback Wednesday: College Hoops 2K8 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 College Hoops 2K8 on PlayStation 3.

College Hoops 2K8 is a title that generally makes basketball gamers feel wistful, the same way football gamers look back at ESPN NFL 2K5. Both games marked the end of their respective series, and were very highly regarded. They have an enduring popularity, as gamers who enjoyed them when they were new are still able to dust them off and play them today, especially College Hoops 2K8 with all of its roster customisation. Indeed, gamers have continued to make new rosters for College Hoops 2K8 for many years afterwards, some of which are still available.

As I look back at College Hoops 2K8, it seems accurate to say that it’s many people’s favourite college basketball game. As with College Hoops 2K7, I’m coming from the position of someone who wasn’t able to play it when it was new, and also didn’t spend a lot of time with its NBA counterpart at the time either. I therefore don’t have any nostalgia for it, and while I am able to make comparisons to NBA 2K8, there isn’t quite the same novelty as there was when comparing NBA Live 08 and NCAA March Madness 08. Nevertheless, it’s unquestionably a significant title, and a great release that’s well worth remembering. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Current Gen Rec vs Next Gen Rec

Monday Tip-Off: Current Gen Rec vs Next Gen Rec

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 comparison of my experiences playing Rec games in the Current Gen and Next Gen versions of NBA 2K21.

Back in December last year, I declared that The Rec in NBA 2K21 was garbage. I stand by that opinion, and the conclusions I drew about who we should blame for the current state of the mode. In short, blame can be attributed to toxic attitudes within the basketball gaming community, but Visual Concepts themselves share responsibility given how the online scene panders to elitism and focuses on pushy recurrent revenue mechanics. The Rec went from being a hit-and-miss experience that could be quite fun at the best of times, to an absolute nightmare.

And so, I gave up on it. It was a healthy decision, especially since I wanted to move away from MyCAREER and its connected experiences. As unfortunate as it was that it took all the fun being sucked out of the mode to break my habit, it did at least prove to be adequate incentive. Of course, I did still dabble with MyCAREER in NBA 2K21 Next Gen in order to play through the story and earn a Trophy, with a view to playing the occasional online game. If nothing else, I was curious to see if anything would change, and wanted to keep tabs on the scene in order to advocate for improvements. With that being said, what is The Rec like on Next Gen compared to Current Gen?

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The Friday Five: 5 Underrepresented Seasons in Retro Mods

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 NBA seasons that tend to be underrepresented when it comes to retro roster mods.

Full retro season roster mods are a huge undertaking. Even if a game features a large amount of retro content in the form of historical players and throwback team art, there will still be a lot of work to be done as far as adding players and creating their faces, not to mention jerseys, courts, and logos. To that point, a modder seeking to make a retro season roster will likely choose the year carefully. Some seasons will require less work than others – especially those in the 90s onwards – because of the amount of assets that can already be utilised.

Of course, there’s another factor that goes into one’s choice of seasons for a retro mod: popularity and notoriety of the campaign in question. I’ll admit to always thinking of the 1996 season when it comes to retro roster ideas, because that’s when I really got into basketball. Generally speaking, I’m also partial to years where the Chicago Bulls were on top. However, with a rich history spanning over seventy years, there are many NBA seasons filled with stories and highlights that should inspire more retro mods than they do. That’s not to say that these seasons don’t have any retro mods already, but all the same, I’d argue that they’re underrepresented in roster projects.

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Wayback Wednesday: College Hoops 2K7 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 College Hoops 2K7 on PlayStation 3.

Finally getting my hands on the college games from Visual Concepts has been just as rewarding as adding EA Sports’ NCAA titles to my collection, but playing them has been a slightly different experience. While there’s still the novelty of finally getting to play games that I wasn’t able to import for so long, I don’t have the same history with NBA 2K7 as I do with NBA Live 07. If nothing else, it isn’t as jarring to see NCAA branding in a menu that I associate with an NBA game that I’m far more familiar with, and played more extensively when it was new.

I do own NBA 2K7 though and have spent time with it, so I am aware of what 2K’s basketball games were like at the time, and thus can make comparisons with College Hoops 2K7. Needless to say, it’s interesting to compare the College Hoops games to its contemporaries in the March Madness series as well, especially since the latter utilised technology from a very rough era in NBA Live’s history, and 2K has usually taken a different approach to certain core features and mechanics. With that being said, let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: No, You Don’t Deserve to Get Paid

Monday Tip-Off: No, You Don't Deserve to Get Paid

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 blunt truths about paid mods, and modders that insist that they deserve payment for their work.

Way back in September 2016, I wrote an article explaining why we don’t allow paid mods in our community. I intended it to be an article that I’d link to whenever the subject came up, and over the years, it’s proven to be handy to have at the ready. The short version is that from a legal standpoint, charging for mods could land us in a lot of hot water, and we’d rather avoid that. It’s also never been the done thing in our community, and we’ve been committed to that stance for almost 25 years now. The fact of the matter is that it could cause a lot of headaches, and we don’t want that.

There’s another reason that we’re against the practice of paid mods, however; one that hasn’t really been discussed. The simple fact of the matter is that you don’t deserve to get paid for your mods. I don’t deserve to get paid for the mods I’ve made over the years, either. No one deserves to get paid for creating mods for a basketball video game, or any game for that matter. The key word here is “deserve”, which implies that one is entitled to be paid, and that simply isn’t the case. Please don’t get me wrong here. I don’t say this to diminish the efforts of modders in our community and beyond. It’s important to understand and accept this blunt truth though, so let me explain.

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The Friday Five: 5 Old Features That Could Be Repurposed

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 old features that could possibly be repurposed and included in future games.

Old basketball games include some interesting features, many of which I’ve profiled in Wayback Wednesday over the years. As I’ve noted in those articles, there are some features that were innovative at the time and fun to look back on, but are admittedly outdated now. They’ve either been replaced with a more evolved concept, or they just don’t fit in today’s games. On the other hand, there are features in old games that I’d like to see return. Some of them would fit perfectly into modern titles, while others would need to be revamped and repurposed to be properly utilised in a new game.

That last group is what I’m focusing on today. While NBA 2K remains a deep game, and NBA Live has introduced some good ideas over the past generation despite some shaky releases, there are some old features that would make a very welcome return; particularly if they were updated and adapted for use in contemporary gameplay and modes. Unfortunately, the design principles that Visual Concepts and EA Sports are adhering to these days may make it highly unlikely, but nevertheless, I’d like to throw out these ideas for repurposed old features. After all, you never know what may happen, especially if they can be repurposed in a way that makes them relevant again.

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Wayback Wednesday: NCAA Basketball 10 Retrospective

Wayback Wednesday: NCAA Basketball 10 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 NCAA Basketball 10.

As I mentioned when I took a look back at NCAA March Madness 08 and NCAA Basketball 09, it wasn’t until I was gifted a PlayStation 3 that I’ve been able to import college basketball games. I’ve therefore taken the opportunity to seek out and pick up those North American exclusives that I couldn’t play on my PAL consoles. Although they do show their age somewhat, I’ve still really enjoyed finally being able to play them and make up for some lost time. I’ve also picked up College Hoops 2K7 and 2K8, and I’ll be getting to them in due course.

I have an unusual history with NCAA Basketball 10. Like the other college games, I wasn’t able to play it until I got a PlayStation 3. However, the difference with NCAA Basketball 10 is that I actually covered it on the NLSC during its preview season! Even though I knew I wouldn’t be able to play it or produce any post-release content, we were expanding beyond just being an NBA Live website, and posting news related to NCAA Basketball 10 was part of my efforts to branch out. Over a decade later, I finally have the game and a console to play it on, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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