Menu
Home | Features

Features

Monday Tip-Off: The Self-Destruction of NBA Playgrounds 2

Kevin Durant shoots in NBA Playgrounds 2

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 further thoughts on NBA Playgrounds 2, and how the game appears to be self-destructing before it’s even released.

Back in May, I wrote an article discussing the opportunity that NBA Playgrounds 2 had to become the definitive arcade basketball game of the current generation. In the immediate wake of the game’s indefinite postponement, such a suggestion still felt somewhat plausible. As the weeks and months have passed, however, it’s starting to feel laughable. We haven’t heard a single thing since the game was postponed, and despite vague promises in the game’s official Facebook group, there’s little to back up the idea that “good things come to those who wait”.

Right now, Saber Interactive is insisting that the game isn’t cancelled, and that the release was pushed back for positive reasons. While that may ultimately turn out to be true, their silence is not inspiring confidence. Gamers are starting to feel sceptical and cynical, rather than anticipating an announcement that’s still “coming soon”. While the game may indeed come out, it’s going to have a tough time living up to the hype and expectations set by its mysterious delay. Even if it turns out to be an improvement on the first NBA Playgrounds and a solid game, the opportunity to become the arcade basketball game of this generation may have slipped through Saber’s fingers.

Read More »

Share Button

The Friday Five: 5 Ways Basketball Games Are Less Fun Now

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 ways that basketball video games are less fun these days.

Basketball video games have improved in leaps and bounds over the past couple of decades, but it hasn’t always been a smooth journey. There have been missteps along the way, and moving forward, there’s obviously still room for improvement in both NBA Live and NBA 2K. Despite that, it’s fair to say that in many ways, basketball games are better than they’ve ever been, providing extremely fun experiences thanks to the factors I discussed in last week’s Friday Five. At the same time, there are a few aspects of today’s games that make them less fun than their predecessors.

It’s difficult to say that without sounding like a grumpy old man being held hostage by his own nostalgia, but it’s true. While design concepts and technology have come a long way, there are certain trends – some specific to basketball games, others common to video gaming in general – that make us yearn for the good old days. In some cases, the good old days aren’t even that long ago, with some of these issues infiltrating our favourite basketball games within the past few years. It’s not that basketball games aren’t fun anymore, or necessarily worse than the titles that came before them, but the particular elements I’m about to discuss have come to affect our enjoyment.

Read More »

Share Button

Wayback Wednesday: Cool Facts in NBA Live 97

Cool Facts about Mitch Richmond (NBA Live 97)

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 Cool Facts in NBA Live 97.

Old basketball video games often have some interesting little features that we don’t find in more recent releases. While we can often feel nostalgic for these features, there’s usually a good reason why they don’t appear in newer games. Some of them are outdated concepts that no longer have a use today. Similarly, others are simply rendered obsolete by advances in technology, or may now take on a very different form. Nevertheless, we tend to remember those quirky old features with the same fondness as the gameplay experience itself, as well as the players of the era.

That is definitely the case with Cool Facts in NBA Live 97. Exclusive to the PC and PlayStation versions of NBA Live 97, Cool Facts were bonus content that taught us a little more about all of the players that we were playing with on the virtual hardwood. A lot of long-time NBA Live players probably remember the feature as a fun exercise while browsing through the rosters, so let’s take a look back…way back…

Read More »

Share Button

Monday Tip-Off: Previewing Offseason Modding Projects

NBA 2K11 Modding Preview: LeBron James Chalk Toss

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 preview of some modding projects that I’m looking to work on during the offseason.

I’ve been creating content for basketball video games since 1997, and needless to say, a few things have changed since then. The games have come a long way, and I have different responsibilities and interests within the hobby. Over the years, I’ve become less involved with modding. As I’ve discussed in previous articles, that’s mainly due to a combination of burnout, and having to ration my free time accordingly. Not as many people are playing the old games that I have more experience editing, and there’s a lot to learn in terms of modding NBA 2K, so I’ve felt less motivated.

However, having enjoyed the hobby for many years, it’s hard to resist the lure of making updates for games; especially old favourites. While I don’t want to set any dates or make any concrete promises, I am looking at getting involved with some bigger projects during this offseason. I’ve been tinkering here and there and mulling the possibility of getting more involved in modding again for a couple of years now, and the recent release of the new version of the Ultimate Base Roster has provided me with some added inspiration to dust off those modding tools. I’m also inclined to try out some new things. Here’s what I’m looking at working on in the coming weeks.

Read More »

Share Button

The Friday Five: 5 Ways Basketball Games Are More Fun Now

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 ways that basketball video games are more fun these days.

We tend to enjoy basketball video games around these parts. It may not always seem like that, but a hardcore fanbase is always going to be passionate, and criticism always comes across louder than praise. We have our complaints, and there are things that we want to see improve, but generally speaking, we do have fun with basketball games. Whether we prefer franchise gaming, team building modes, the single player career experience, or online play, there’s usually at least been a handful of games that have given us memorable and enjoyable moments on the virtual hardwood.

Of course, basketball games have been fun for a long time, and if you’ve been playing them for many years, then it’s likely that you have many fond memories of older titles. It’s often fun to revisit an old favourite, but other times, it’s best to leave the memories alone. After all, technology and design concepts have come a long way over the past couple of decades, and there have been many improvements that make more modern basketball games more fun to play than their predecessors. It’s not always apparent until you go back and play an old game, and there are always exceptions, but if you’re feeling sceptical, here are five ways that basketball games are more fun now.

Read More »

Share Button

Wayback Wednesday: Gameplay Sliders in NBA Live 2004

Global Sliders in NBA Live 2004

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 gameplay sliders in NBA Live 2004.

Although basketball gamers who play sim-oriented titles are generally seeking the same kind of experience, it’s tough to please everyone. Not everyone has the same skill level, and not everyone wants to go out of their way to play a realistic style of virtual basketball. No matter how much attention is paid to the gameplay, it’s tough for developers to meet everyone’s expectations. In the early 2000s, we wanted to see an increase in realism, so that basketball games more accurately reflected what we saw on TV. The games of the era had their moments, but they still had a ways to go.

NBA Live 2003 had felt like a step in the wrong direction, with an almost arcade-like style. Although we tried to make the game more realistic through modding, we didn’t have a lot of success. NBA Live 2004 put the series back on track, not only in terms of implementing a more realistic style, but also through the introduction of gameplay sliders. These new settings allowed us to tinker with the gameplay without messing around with player ratings, in turn providing us with an opportunity to improve the experience from what was on offer out of the box. Let’s take a look back…way back…

Read More »

Share Button

Monday Tip-Off: Franchise Modes Still Matter in Basketball Games

Franchise Modes in NBA 2K18

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 discussion of why franchise modes still matter to the basketball gaming experience.

Reading through the deep dive blog on Madden 19’s Franchise mode, I have to admit that I felt a bit envious. While not all of the specific features would be appropriate for NBA Live 19, the point is that the Franchise experience in this year’s Madden will be receiving some significant attention. Although it’s been confirmed that all modes in NBA Live 19 will be getting some additions and enhancements – good news as the game aims to take the next big step – it’s probably safe to say that Franchise Mode will be a much lower priority than The One.

That’s understandable of course, as it’s catering to the current trend that favours career modes and their connected online experience. However, it’s been a long time since NBA Live’s Franchise mode was a high priority, receiving the attention that it needs and deserves. Indeed, there were a few missteps in the “streamlined experience” in NBA Live 18, so I’m hoping for some much-needed enhancements this year. NBA 2K meanwhile has featured a much deeper franchise experience in the form of MyGM and MyLEAGUE, though it could benefit from a few fixes and some fine-tuning. I hope neither game neglects their franchise modes, as they still matter to gamers.

Read More »

Share Button

The Friday Five: 5 Examples of Content That Should Return

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 examples of content that should return in future NBA Live and NBA 2K games.

Basketball video games have come a long way when it comes to additional content. In the very early days, simply including every single NBA team (rather than a selection of the previous year’s postseason teams) was a big deal. Once it became standard to include every team, extra content was basically limited to the custom teams and a few secret unlockable teams usually comprised of the game’s developers. NBA Live 2000 would see the arrival of Legends, and then 2K would take historical content even further beginning in NBA 2K11, with the inclusion of Michael Jordan’s Bulls squads.

Indeed, much of what we might have once called bonus content is now considered to be essential. It’s difficult to imagine Visual Concepts removing the historical teams from NBA 2K; if it were to happen, the backlash would be tremendous. The removal of content is a sore point for basketball gamers because we have seen certain features disappear from both NBA Live and NBA 2K over the years. While content such as the historical and WNBA teams nicely round out recent games, there are things that a lot of gamers would like to see return. I obviously have my own list of content that I’d like to see again, which I present for everyone’s consideration (including EA and 2K).

Read More »

Share Button

Wayback Wednesday: NBA 2K12’s Introduction Video

NBA 2K12 Introduction Video

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 video for NBA 2K12.

Although NBA 2K11 was a tough act to follow, I would suggest that NBA 2K12 was up to the challenge. Continuing to improve upon the gameplay of its predecessor, it also successfully expanded the historical content we’ve come to associate with the NBA 2K series. The Jordan Challenge gave way to NBA’s Greatest, a mode featuring fantastic production values and several of the best teams in the NBA history on top of MJ’s Bulls. The game was hampered by the absence of the Class of 2011 rookies at launch owing to the lockout, but official roster updates would later resolve that issue.

Firing up NBA 2K12 for the first time immediately got you in the mood to play with the new historical teams, with an introduction video that I once ranked as the best among basketball games. Although we’ve seen some slick intros in the years since, there’s still a strong case for NBA 2K12’s boot-up remaining in the top spot. As such, I thought I’d look back at it this week, and the real highlights that inspired several moments in the intro. Let’s take a look back…way back…

Read More »

Share Button

Monday Tip-Off: Nostalgia in Basketball Gaming

Vince Carter dunks in NBA 2K11

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 nostalgia in basketball gaming.

Nostalgia is a powerful thing. Deconstructing it as a concept is a little beyond a site dedicated to covering basketball video games but suffice to say, experts who know a lot more about psychology and sociology than I do have identified both positive and negative aspects of nostalgia. Nevertheless, I’d say that for most of us, it’s a healthy indulgence of our old favourites, whether it’s video games, television shows, films, music, sporting moments, or whatever. It’s often fun to reminisce, not to mention good fodder for discussion and debate.

Basketball games appeal to our nostalgia with retro content such as historical teams, but old hoops games themselves also hold a certain appeal. It’s fair to say that many of us are nostalgic for the titles we grew up playing; I know I am, which is why I enjoy producing my weekly Wayback Wednesday feature. We also hold up the best releases from yesteryear as a benchmark for new games, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, we do want to see basketball games continue to improve, especially when it comes to the annual releases. However, it is possible to get caught up in nostalgia, judging new games unfairly and exaggerating the quality of older titles.

Read More »

Share Button

The Friday Five: 5 Retro Teams I’d Like To See in NBA 2K (Part 5)

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 part five in a series of lists of retro teams that I’d like to see added to NBA 2K.

Even with all the retro teams that are already in NBA 2K, I can’t stop thinking of new squads that would be fun to play with. As I’ve previously noted, some of the additions in recent years have opened the door to teams outside of previous champions, NBA Finalists, and perennial title contenders. There have been plenty of squads throughout the years that have been memorable for one reason or another, if only for a season or two. It’d be great to get them into future NBA 2K games, not only to play with, but also to boost the ranks of historical players in MyTEAM and the All-Time squads.

Once again, this is part five in an ongoing series of suggestions for new retro teams. I’d still like to see the teams I mentioned in parts 1, 2, 3, and 4 included at some point, but with another five squads coming to mind, it was time for another list. As always, please note that these suggestions assume that most of the significant players (if not all of them) can be licensed to appear in the game, since it would be rather pointless to add these retro teams otherwise. Some are probably more feasible than others, while a few have the advantage of several players already appearing in the game. With that being said, let’s get to the list!

Read More »

Share Button

Wayback Wednesday: 1-on-1 Courts in NBA Live 2003

MJ vs Kobe on the Urban Court (NBA Live 2003)

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 1-on-1 courts that were available in NBA Live 2003.

When 1-on-1 mode was implemented in NBA Live 2000, the games took place on the same urban street court that was featured in Practice mode. This approach continued through NBA Live 2002, though EA Sports changed up the aesthetic of the courts a little in each game. Come NBA Live 2003, the decision was made to have Practice mode take place within a generic gym. While merely a cosmetic change without any added functionality, it was arguably a more suitable setting, giving the impression of a player shooting around in their team’s practice facility.

However, the urban blacktop wasn’t removed from the game. It was still the default option for 1-on-1 mode, maintaining the streetball atmosphere from previous titles. It wasn’t the only place gamers could go 1-on-1 in NBA Live 2003, though. It was also possible to select the aforementioned practice gym, as well as a court located by the beach. These courts definitely spiced up 1-on-1 mode, and allowed the art team to get very creative. Let’s take a look back…way back…

Read More »

Share Button

Monday Tip-Off: Matchmaking & Microtransactions

NLSC GrindTime in The Playground (NBA 2K18)

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 two very important areas in NBA 2K19: matchmaking and microtransactions.

I’ve mentioned matchmaking and microtransactions in previous articles discussing what I feel must be done in future NBA 2K games, and with the preview season more or less underway, it’s time to revisit these issues. Both are aspects that the NBA 2K development team must handle carefully, to ensure that the experience provided by NBA 2K19 is as accessible and as enjoyable as it can be. If the wrong approach is taken, then this year’s game is going to suffer from the same problems as NBA 2K18, with similar backlash. 2K is overdue to show its fanbase some genuine goodwill.

I originally planned to discuss matchmaking and microtransactions separately, but the more I thought about it, the clearer it became that the two issues are closely linked. Their respective shortcomings in last year’s game combined to make its most popular online modes far less inviting and enjoyable than they should’ve been. The lack of in-depth matchmaking made the pay-to-win aspect of microtransactions a much larger issue. Likewise, the impact of microtransactions in NBA 2K18 made the lack of proper matchmaking all the more apparent and problematic. If handled better, they needn’t cause as many problems with the competitive balance in NBA 2K19.

Read More »

Share Button

The Friday Five: 5 Reasons Not to Ragequit

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 reasons why you shouldn’t ragequit when playing NBA Live or NBA 2K.

We’ve all been there. Whether it’s the CPU not playing fair, or an embarrassing deficit to an online opponent, we suddenly find ourselves wanting to ragequit a basketball video game. While it’s almost universally considered poor form to ragequit an online game you’re losing, it can be a healthy decision when you’re playing offline. It’s much better than breaking a controller (or anything else in the vicinity), and if you’re really not having any fun, you’re better off taking a break and trying again later. Generally speaking, it’s best not to try forcing yourself to endure unenjoyable experiences.

However, there are times when you should try to persevere. Beyond showing good sportsmanship in online play, there are incentives to gut out a game that isn’t going your way. You may be missing out on a potentially rewarding experience, as well as a few valuable lessons that may help you to improve your play on the virtual hardwood. No one likes to lose, and losing badly is a bitter pill to swallow, but strength in the face of adversity builds character; so does good sportsmanship, for that matter. Before you let your frustration get the better of you, here are five reasons not to ragequit when playing basketball video games.

Read More »

Share Button

Wayback Wednesday: The Dunk Contest in Basketball Games

Tens in the Dunk Contest (NBA Live 2005)

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking a look back at the Slam Dunk Contest in basketball video games.

The Slam Dunk Contest is the main event of All-Star Saturday Night, and with the notable exception of the 1998 All-Star Weekend, it’s been a fixture of the festivities since 1984. Although not every contest has been better than the last – and indeed, some years have been downright disappointing – it’s still provided us with many memorable examples of spectacular aerial artistry. It only stands to reason that we want to take part in the dunk contest in basketball video games, and fortunately for us, several titles over the years have afforded us that opportunity.

Implemented in a variety of ways over the years, the dunk contest has proven to be a fun mini-game to jump into whenever it’s been available to play at any time. Along with the Three-Point Shootout, it’s also deepened the franchise and career experiences by representing the most prominent events of the All-Star Weekend. The main event of the NBA’s midseason classic has an interesting history when it comes to the virtual hardwood, so let’s take a look back…way back…

Read More »

Share Button