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The Friday Five: 5 Retro Purchases That Didn’t Pan Out

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 discusses five retro purchases that didn’t pan out the way that I was hoping.

When I was a young basketball gamer, my parents didn’t quite understand the concept of annual releases. I remember buying NBA Live 97, and my father saying something along the lines of “OK, you don’t need any more basketball games.” It’s funny to look back on now considering how much my collection has grown since then, to the point where acquiring basketball games is as much my hobby as playing them. Given that I’m a content creator, they’re also an investment that helps out with that venture, but I also enjoy searching for bargains and adding some obscure or difficult to find titles.

Expanding my collection beyond the games I bought and played when they were new has allowed me to experience some titles that I missed the first time around. As I’ve said before, some are good, and some are bad. Some I wish I played more of when they were new, and some I can safely say I was right to avoid. Either way, I don’t regret my retro purchases because I enjoy collecting, and checking them out not only creates material for Wayback Wednesday but is also a fun adventure. Unfortunately, not all of my retro purchases have panned out. It’s the risk you take when you hunt down second hand titles, but fortunately none of these busts have broken the bank.

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Wayback Wednesday: A Trashed Mavs Jersey in NBA Live 2004

Wayback Wednesday: A Trashed Mavs Jersey 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 infamous Dallas Mavericks alternate jersey that can be found in NBA Live 2004.

Nothing turns us basketball fans into fashion critics quite like a new NBA jersey design. It’s rare to get a uniform that we universally agree is good or bad, especially when it comes to some of the colourful designs of the mid to late 90s. There are a handful of jerseys that draw close to a unanimous reaction however, be it positive or negative. The uniforms that are reviled by almost everyone – even the most ardent fans of the teams that sport them – become infamous, especially if they somehow stick around beyond a single season.

On the other hand, negative reception can derail plans for a uniform design to become a staple of the team’s branding. Indeed, the jersey I’m talking about today – the Dallas Mavericks’ infamous “trash bag” uniform – was scrapped after being worn in just one game. It’s a jersey that’s been talked about at length, given that it’s a mainstay on most “all-time worst jerseys” lists, but it does have an interesting history with NBA Live 2004. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: The State of Official Rosters

Monday Tip-Off: The State of Official Rosters

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 state of official rosters in basketball games, particularly NBA 2K.

No matter whether you’re a developer working on the official rosters or a gamer who’s making unofficial updates for the community, it can often be a thankless job. There’s no chance of pleasing everyone when it comes to player ratings, especially given the overinflated importance that Overall Ratings are often ascribed. With over 400 active players along with historical content, it’s very easy to overlook a detail here and there, no matter how meticulous you are. I’m not sure that I’ve ever released a roster for NBA Live PC that didn’t have at least one small oversight.

The feedback that you’ll receive as a roster maker in the community, or indeed as the developer in charge of handling the official rosters, isn’t always constructive or very pleasant. We’re quick to sneer at a perceived bias or lack of knowledge, forgetting that we’re all prone to the same biases and knowledge gaps, to say nothing of human error. At the same time, we’re slow to give credit where it’s due. With that being said, there are some troubling trends when it comes to the official rosters in modern games, in particular NBA 2K. Without meaning to be insulting or self-righteous, it doesn’t feel like the rosters in recent titles have the same level of authenticity as they once did.

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The Friday Five: 5 Pettiest Moments 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 some of the pettiest moments we’ve seen in basketball gaming.

Is it fair to say that some of the most talented and creative people are also among the pettiest? As someone who grew up reading Roald Dahl’s books, such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Danny, Champion of the World, The Twits, and other classics, I’d have to say yes. Comparing the stories to Dahl’s autobiographical works, Boy and Going Solo, it’s obvious that he based many of his villains on people that he’d met and didn’t care for. In Danny, Champion of the World, he flat out named Danny’s abusive teacher after one of his own schoolmasters whom he loathed (I’d say quite rightfully).

With that in mind, it’s probably fair to say that spite is a driving influence in a lot of people’s creative process. The amount of recording artists who have released songs written about an ex – famous or otherwise – also stands as a good example here. As a creative medium in which there’s competition, video games likewise invite some petty potshots and snarky slams. With there once being a heated rivalry between NBA Live and NBA 2K, both EA Sports and Visual Concepts have been guilty of pettiness. On the other hand, pettiness has also resulted in some amusing Easter eggs and design choices. Without further ado, here are five of the pettiest moments in virtual hoops!

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Wayback Wednesday: Familiar Faces Back in Familiar Places (Part 2)

Wayback Wednesday: Familiar Faces Back in Familiar Places (Part 2)

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 ten more familiar faces who found themselves back in familiar places.

Just as there are have been several familiar faces that ended up in strange places, there are more familiar faces who made it back to familiar places than I can possibly fit into just one list of ten! To that end, I’m also making this spinoff topic an ongoing series for Wayback Wednesday. As I previously noted, these homecomings can be just as interesting as the strange stints of well-known players, as they can also end up flying under the radar and being forgotten due to being unremarkable returns. In other cases, it’s the original stint with a team that is overlooked.

Either way, they’re fun to look back on. We can obviously do that by going back and watching old games, but it’s also possible to revisit these tenures through the virtual hardwood. I’ve grown quite fond of referring to basketball video games as interactive almanacs and time capsules to the point where I’m probably overusing the expression. It is quite apt though, and with that in mind, I’m using video games to demonstrate these examples of familiar faces back in familiar places. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Do We Need Those Stinking Badges?

Monday Tip-Off: Do We Need Those Stinking Badges?

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 whether NBA 2K’s MyCAREER and its connected modes are too reliant on Badges, and their general implementation.

Sim games have long sought to properly differentiate between players, beginning with detailed ratings. Those base attributes alone haven’t always been sufficient though, and so developers have experimented with mechanics such as Freestyle Superstars in NBA Live, and Signature Skills in NBA 2K. Signature Skills have given way to Badges, which like their predecessors, grant boosts and represent special abilities that the standard ratings can’t account for. As with Signature Skills, or the similar Traits system in NBA Live, they’re available to real players and career mode avatars alike.

These days, Badges are probably more important than ratings/attributes. You can max out a player’s ratings in a certain area, but it takes the effects of a Badge to ensure that they’re sufficiently levelled up. On one hand, this does make the exceptionally skilled stand out from the very good, much as Freestyle Superstars in NBA Live once aimed to achieve. On the other hand, it also means that high ratings – which are theoretically only given to the best real players, and take a long time to grind for our MyPLAYERs – are far less powerful than they should be, if they aren’t paired with the various boosts afforded by Badges. Given these issues, do we need those stinking Badges?

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The Friday Five: 5 Keys to a “No Money Spent” Experience

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 tips that are the key to having a “No Money Spent” experience in NBA 2K.

Microtransactions remain a controversial issue in NBA 2K, and Triple-A gaming as a whole. Although they are technically optional, there’s no denying that 2K’s recurrent revenue mechanics are implemented in a way that does all they can to push gamers towards spending real money on Virtual Currency. Gamers who spend level up quicker and end up with better cards sooner, and in turn, they set the competitive balance in online play. Even if you stick to the offline modes, opting for the No Money Spent approach ensures a lengthy grind, year after year.

Of course, for those of us who don’t want to support the recurrent revenue business model and spend additional money on a game that’ll be outmoded in a year, finding a way to beat the system is a point of pride. There’s great satisfaction to be had in enjoying a game without having to shell out cash in order to level up efficiently, or access some of its best content. Once again though, NBA 2K is subtly (and not-so-subtly) trying to push us towards spending at every turn, so the No Money Spent approach takes a few tricks, discipline, and a willingness to work the system. To that end, here are five keys to getting the most out of a No Money Spent experience.

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Wayback Wednesday: A Key Mistake in NBA 2K9 PC

Wayback Wednesday: A Key Mistake in NBA 2K9 PC

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 issue with missing keys in NBA 2K9 PC.

Hopefully, I’m not the only person around these parts with an appreciation for old school adventure games from Sierra and LucasArts. Those two companies took a very different approach to the genre. While LucasArts adopted the stance of avoiding game over situations (and thereby encouraging gamers to freely experiment), Sierra’s games could be brutal in the way they punished you for trying the wrong thing or missing a detail. If you forgot to pick up a key very early on in the game, you might find that it’s unobtainable much later on, resulting in an unwinnable state. Save early, and often!

Yes, I’m going on a very long journey for an analogy; you might say, almost as far as Guybrush Threepwood travelled by rowboat around the titular location in The Secret of Monkey Island! The point is that you never want to get stuck without a required key, and unfortunately, that’s what happened to a lot of gamers who picked up the PC version of NBA 2K9. With that nostalgic and self-indulgent metaphor out of the way, let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Imperfections Don’t Need Imperfect Solutions

Monday Tip-Off: Imperfections Don't Need Imperfect Solutions

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 simple but important message: imperfections in basketball games don’t need imperfect solutions.

There’s a running gag when it comes to Bethesda’s Fallout games: “it just works”. This sarcastic jab at bugs and other imperfections in the series is a reference to Executive Producer Todd Howard’s declaration that Fallout 4’s “dynamic game engine” would ensure that everything about it “just works”. And, to be fair, while I didn’t enjoy Fallout 4 as much as I did Fallout 3 or Fallout: New Vegas, the game does indeed work. Does everything work as well as it should? Not exactly, and that’s why Todd Howard’s utterance of those words has become a meme.

In all fairness to Todd Howard and Bethesda though, they’re not alone in that regard. To be completely fair to the Triple-A gaming industry at large, achieving perfection is easier said than done, and the scope of their products is going to result in issues such as bugs and oversights. As gamers, consumers, whatever we want to call ourselves, we do understand that. However, some things are just poorly planned, designed, and implemented. Although we do criticise these issues and suggest solutions, I’ve also seen many gamers defend these imperfections. Not because of the difficulty of game design, mind you, but the notion that imperfect solutions cancel out valid complaints.

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The Friday Five: 5 Nifty Features That Weren’t Advertised

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 nifty features that weren’t advertised, and we had to discover on our own.

Over the years, the preview season has grown shorter and less exciting. I’ll admit that for my part, there’s a certain amount of cynicism that’s inevitable after covering hoops games for so many years. Features and entire games that didn’t live up to the hype do leave one jaded, or at the very least, taking every preview with a grain of salt. On top of that, with only one game guaranteed to come out every year, we’ve lost that back and forth, those attempts at one-upmanship coming out of EA Sports and 2K Sports. Indeed, the preview season has been reduced to a handful of blogs close to launch.

Hopefully, the previews for the Next Gen version of NBA 2K21 will shake things up. It’s the version that’s received the most attention after all, whereas the Current Gen release was outsourced to another studio. Of course, it doesn’t hurt when a few things are left for us to discover. Indeed, even when the preview season felt longer and more exciting, developers wouldn’t go into absolutely every detail about the games. There were always a few nifty things that didn’t make the previews, or the list of features on the back of the box. It’d be nice to discover a few gems in the newly released Current Gen version of NBA 2K21, though; gems such as these nifty features in past games.

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Wayback Wednesday: Another Mistake Unnoticed For Decades

Wayback Wednesday: Another Mistake Unnoticed For Decades

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 another mistake that I’ve somehow managed to overlook for more than two decades now.

I won’t lie. When I realised I’d overlooked a mistake with Kevin Edwards’ portrait in the PC version of NBA Jam Tournament Edition for over twenty years, it blew my mind. You can’t imagine how many times I’ve fired up that game over the years, how many times I’ve cycled through all the teams’ rosters, and yet somehow failed to notice that he has Blue Edwards’ portrait instead. It didn’t click, even though I also own the Super Nintendo version of the game, and do recall Edwards having a different (and correct) portrait in that release.

Well, it happened again! This time, it was our own Eric (aka Q) that pointed out the mistake to me. The error can be found in NBA Hangtime, Midway’s successor to NBA Jam TE. I went back and double-checked just in case it had been fixed in the PAL version that I played, but no, the mistake is definitely there. As with Edwards’ incorrect portrait, it hardly ruins the game, but now that I’ve seen it, I can’t believe I overlooked it for all those years. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: How Recent Should Retro Teams Be?

Monday Tip-Off: How Recent Should Retro Teams Be?

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 recent the retro teams in NBA 2K should be.

As we speed towards the release of NBA 2K21 Current Gen, we’re receiving the final tidbits about this year’s game. On that note, the official NBA 2K Twitter announced the inclusion of two new classic teams – the 2017 Toronto Raptors and 2019 Golden State Warriors – in NBA 2K21. As I noted in my bulletin, this follows on from the addition of six retro teams in NBA 2K20, along with the return of the All-Decade squads. While we haven’t had a dedicated retro challenge mode outside of MyTEAM since NBA’s Greatest in NBA 2K12, the games continue to add throwback content.

And yet, there’s something a tad unsatisfying about the announcement of those two teams. As former champions with some big names in their lineups, they’re obvious choices to join the ranks of classic squads. At the same time, they are very recent teams. Given the odd situation that the COVID-19 pandemic has placed the NBA in, the 2019 Raptors are being added as a classic team before they’ve even been officially dethroned as the reigning champs. It isn’t the first time that a new retro team in NBA 2K has felt a bit too recent to truly be considered “retro” or “classic”, which therefore raises the question: how recent is too recent when it comes to retro teams?

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The Friday Five: 5 Unexpected Jerseys Included in 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 jerseys that we didn’t expect to see included among the selection in basketball video games.

We’ve grown accustomed to a wide selection of alternate and retro jerseys to choose from in basketball video games. This wasn’t always the case, however. It wasn’t until NBA Live 2003 that EA Sports’ long-running series added both the ability to select jerseys in-game, and a single retro uniform for every team. Over the years, more and more jerseys were added, though they were briefly removed when the series made the jump to seventh generation. NBA 2K has also come to feature a wide selection of jerseys, with NBA 2K20 including just about every major jersey each team has worn.

However, not only have there been some noteworthy omissions over the years, we’ve also seen some unexpected uniforms make the cut. The context that makes a uniform an unexpected inclusion varies from example to example, but suffice to say, we’ve sometimes been left surprised upon scrolling through all of the options on the jersey selection screen. In some cases, rare and even fictional jerseys have found their way into the game, increasing our choices and letting us hold our own theme nights in the various franchise modes. Looking back, I would suggest that these five rank amongst the most unexpected jerseys to have been featured on the virtual hardwood.

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Wayback Wednesday: 10-Man Freestyle in NBA Live 2004

Wayback Wednesday: 10-Man Freestyle 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 10-Man Freestyle in NBA Live 2004.

Over the years, we gamers have become more and more familiar – and thus, more and more obsessed – with the technical aspects of video games. In particular, we concern ourselves with the engine that games run on, and lament it when we feel that a title is using outdated or unsuitable technology. There are times that we probably assume too much knowledge in this regard, but it’s not always our fault. Developers are always touting the benefits of the tech they use, especially as we find ourselves on the brink of a new generation (as is the case right now).

Of course, technological advancements aren’t limited to next gen launches. During the course of a generation, we’ll see engines and motion systems replaced and revamped, with mixed results. A recent example would be the motion system introduced in NBA 2K18, giving the game an obviously different feel to NBA 2K17. We’re going a bit further back with the topic of this week’s Wayback Wednesday however, as I’ll be talking about 10-Man Freestyle in NBA Live 2004. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Unfinished NBA 2K20 Business

Monday Tip-Off: Unfinished NBA 2K20 Business

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 sticking with or returning to NBA 2K20 after NBA 2K21 is released, in order to take care of unfinished business.

As I’m writing this, I haven’t pre-ordered NBA 2K21. That may change by the time you’re reading it, because I do intend to buy the Current Gen version of the game. In fact, I’m leaning towards getting the Mamba Forever Edition, in order to save money on the PlayStation 5 release later this year. The only reason I haven’t pre-ordered as yet is because there’s still time to do so, and it doesn’t matter whether you pre-order several weeks or just a few days in advance. They’re not going to run out of copies, and I’ll receive the bonuses either way.

Of course, with the release of NBA 2K21 looming, the clock is ticking on NBA 2K20. In fact, as this article is going live, we’re on the cusp of NBA 2K21’s demo being released. That means pretty soon, we’ll all be turning our attention away from NBA 2K20…or will we? The game has already received content beyond the usual cut-off, thanks to the NBA’s hiatus and restart; a situation that also means that NBA 2K21 will be released with this season’s rosters, and before the 2020 Playoffs are even over no less. With that in mind, I could definitely see myself sticking with NBA 2K20 a little while longer, or at least going back to it after trying out its successor.

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