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Monday Tip-Off: How My Basketball Gaming Habits Changed

Ben Gordon in NBA Live 06

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 how my basketball gaming habits have changed over the years.

I’ve been playing basketball games for quite a while now. It’s an interest that began as I was entering my teenage years, intensified in my mid-to-late teens when I created the NBA Live Domain and then subsequently took over running the NLSC, and has since continued into adulthood. Now that I’m in my early thirties, I’m finding that I’m approaching the hobby differently. I’m still passionate about it, but with different priorities and responsibilities, I’ve had to ration my time and make a few adjustments to the way that I play. Of course, there have been gradual changes to my habits ever since the very beginning of my interest in basketball gaming.

The evolution of basketball gaming, as well as my own changing tastes, have both played a role here. Picking up two annual releases rather than just the one is a major factor as well. With NBA Live 18 and NBA 2K18 coming out next month, I’ll once again be faced with the prospect of dividing my time between two current games. Just how much I enjoy those games will also depend on my expectations and tolerance for legacy issues, which have been shaped by all my years of basketball gaming. As I prepare for the next batch of previews, and the new games themselves, I thought that I’d reflect on how my habits have changed over time.

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The Friday Five: 5 Basketball Games I’m Oddly Nostalgic For

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five basketball games that I’m oddly nostalgic for.

We each have our all-time favourite basketball games. Even when they’ve been surpassed by new titles, it’s natural to feel nostalgic towards old favourites. In the best case scenario, some of them may still hold up reasonably well, and be fun to play years later. As far as the sim-oriented basketball games are concerned, my list would include NBA Live 95, NBA Live 96, NBA Live 2000, NBA Live 2004, NBA Live 2005, NBA Live 06, and now that a few years have passed, NBA 2K11, NBA 2K12, and NBA 2K13. In terms of arcade basketball games, there’s NBA Jam Tournament Edition, NBA Street Homecourt, and more recently, NBA Jam: On Fire Edition.

I’m nostalgic for those titles because they rank among my all-time favourites, but then there are also basketball games that I feel an affinity for, even though they wouldn’t make my personal top five or ten. Some of those games are quite flawed, or at the very least haven’t aged too well, yet there’s something that draws me to them. Sometimes it’s the general atmosphere, sometimes it’s an ultimately inconsequential detail such as the soundtrack, and sometimes it has more to do with when they came out and where I was at in my life at the time. Whatever the case may be, these are five basketball games that I’m oddly nostalgic for, given the circumstances.

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA 2K12 Promotional Copy Opening

Promotional Copy of NBA 2K12

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 opening up a sealed promotional copy of NBA 2K12 for Xbox 360 that I found on eBay.

In recent years I’ve continued to expand my collection of basketball video games, not only buying the latest releases, but also picking up older games that I’ve found on eBay at an affordable price. Some of those games I’ve previously owned and sold, while others I’ve never owned or even played before. I’ve also bought different versions of games that I already own, in order to experience them on other platforms. While browsing eBay looking for deals, I found a sealed, promotional copy of NBA 2K12 for the Xbox 360. Intrigued as to what might be in the box – perhaps a code for the 2002 Sacramento Kings and 1991 Golden State Warriors? – I decided to pick it up.

Since I was going to have to tear open the seal anyway in order to check it out, I figured that I might as well make a sort of unboxing video feature out of it. For your entertainment, let’s open up this sealed promotional copy of NBA 2K12 for Xbox 360, and take a look back…way back…

Check it out here on the NLSC’s YouTube channel if you can’t see the embedded video. I’ll be looking to create video content a bit more often moving forward, so be sure to subscribe! If you’d like to check out more Wayback Wednesday content related to NBA 2K12, be sure to read this retrospective of NBA’s Greatest.

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Monday Tip-Off: Gameplay vs. Game Modes

MyCAREER in NBA 2K17 with the Denver Nuggets

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 at the debate regarding the importance of gameplay vs. the importance of game modes, in basketball video games.

For the most part, we basketball gamers can generally agree that we want to see the games that we play get better and better with each release. Of course, we’re not always on the same page as far as the specific improvements are concerned. At the very least, we may prioritise them quite differently. We need to realise that these differing points of view are equally valid; it’s perfectly fine to like different aspects of the games, and as such, have a keener interest in seeing them improve compared to others. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to see your fellow basketball gamers talking about something that doesn’t interest you, and not feel that they’re missing the point.

Perhaps the best example of this is the whole gameplay vs. game modes debate. It’s fair to say that most basketball gamers would agree that both gameplay and game modes are the most important aspects of any given release, but disagree on the importance of those aspects in relation to one another. I’ve recently seen a few comments that have derided the importance of game modes, and over the years, there have been more than a couple of remarks that have downplayed the necessity of getting the gameplay experience right. To that end, I thought that I’d offer up my thoughts on the debate regarding gameplay vs. game modes.

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The Friday Five: 5 More Random Basketball Game Facts

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 collection of five more random basketball game facts, that I hope you’ll find interesting.

If you enjoy trivia, raise your hand! I’m going to pretend that I actually see people either raising their hands or keeping them down, and then assume that everyone’s hands are in fact raised. That way, I can say of course everyone enjoys trivia! In all seriousness, it’s fair to say that most people enjoy hearing an interesting fact or two about one of their hobbies or interests, and in our community, that may well refer to a favourite basketball game. From Easter Eggs to unusual facts and figures, there’s some interesting basketball video game trivia that we can talk about.

As you’ve no doubt gleaned from the title, this is actually a sequel article to a Friday Five column that I posted a few years back. Now, they say that sequels are never as good as, or better than the originals – with a few noteworthy exceptions, of course – but with all the basketball games that have been released over the years, this is a topic that could probably become a series. As such, I’ll probably revisit it again down the road, but for now, let’s take a look at five more random basketball game facts that hopefully at least a few of you won’t have heard, and will be interested to discover.

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Wayback Wednesday: Freestyle Control in NBA Live 2003

Freestyle Control Dribbling in 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 Freestyle Control in NBA Live 2003.

It’s funny that it’s taken me this long to do a Wayback Wednesday feature on Freestyle Control, especially since I talked about Freestyle Superstars just a few weeks ago. I did talk about it in my retrospective of NBA Live 2003, but being such an important development in terms of controls, it definitely deserves its own article. Although the name has changed a couple of times over the years, taking on monikers such as “Quick Strike Ballhandling” and “Quick Strike Ankle Breakers”, the basic concept of Freestyle’s right stick control has remained essentially the same. It’s since gone back to its original name, and we’ll be seeing more of it in NBA Live 18.

Freestyle Control changed the game, and for those of us playing on PC, it also meant picking up a dual analog gamepad to take full advantage of it. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Double Overtime THRILLHO

NLSC THRILLHO Pre-Game in NBA 2K17's 2K Pro-Am

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 video feature, specifically a recap and highlight reel from one of NLSC THRILLHO’s recent games in NBA 2K17’s 2K Pro-Am.

As Arcane and I discussed in Episode #215 of the NLSC Podcast, we recently had a very enjoyable session of 2K Pro-Am that included an exciting double overtime victory. Despite a few mistakes here and there, Arcane, zzcoolj21 and I were able to eke out the win for NLSC THRILLHO, producing some highlight plays along the way. I naturally made sure to capture the footage, beginning with zz’s three-pointer that sent the game into overtime, and have put together a video recap/highlight reel of what turned out to be a very enjoyable and rewarding game. Watch it below, or catch it here on the NLSC YouTube channel if you’re unable to see the embedded video.

I hope you enjoyed it; it’s certainly fun for me to watch again! I’d like to get back to creating some more video content, and have a couple of ideas for a weekly video feature that I’m hoping to launch soon. I also hope to shake things up with a few more videos here and there for Monday Tip-Off, Wayback Wednesday, and perhaps even The Friday Five. In the meantime, I’ve been uploading clips from the NLSC Podcast to our YouTube channel, spotlighting some major discussions. Stay tuned for more articles, videos, and other original content, and be sure to check out this previous feature for some of NLSC THRILLHO’s more frustrating moments in 2K Pro-Am.

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The Friday Five: 5 Biggest Improvements 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 what I feel have been the five biggest improvements in basketball games over the past two decades.

After I grumbled about the current state of the preview season at the beginning of the week, we ended up getting the first NBA 2K18 screenshots, and a ton of exciting information about MyLEAGUE and MyGM. Although I stand by my comparisons to the way previews were handled in years gone by, and my point about EA Sports’ missed opportunity to keep hyping NBA Live 18, it does seem as though this year’s preview season is finally getting into gear. As I said, the news we’ve just received regarding improvements to MyLEAGUE and MyGM is exciting, and hopefully the good news will keep rolling out for both basketball games in the coming weeks.

Needless to say, for all the promising tidbits we’ll hear, there’ll be a healthy amount of scepticism. It’s understandable, because both NBA Live and NBA 2K have their own frustrating legacy issues, some of which have been bothering basketball gamers for many years. Of course, with new releases coming out every year, it can be difficult to appreciate just how much basketball games have improved over time. Even though we still have valid complaints, basketball games have indeed come a long way since their early predecessors. Let’s take a look at the aspects of basketball gaming that have seen the most progress; the biggest improvements in basketball games, if you will.

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Wayback Wednesday: Tweaked Roster Updates

Cover player Jason Kidd dribbles the basketball in 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 tweaked roster updates for NBA Live.

One of the key elements of roster updates, be they official updates or community-made rosters, is tweaking player ratings for more realistic performance. Whether it’s correcting the guesswork that’s originally needed when assigning ratings for a rookie player, or accounting for a drastic change in performance compared to the previous season, adjusting player attributes is an important part of creating a desirable gameplay experience. In some cases, gamers have ended up making major adjustments to all players, in order to counteract gameplay quirks and try to inject a little more realism into the game. These were known as tweaked roster updates.

It’s an outdated practice now, but many years ago, creating a tweaked version of a roster was considered a necessity if you wanted to try and enhance the experience for your fellow NBA Live gamers. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: What Happened To The Preview Season?

The NBA Live 18 Preview Season is Underway

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 another underwhelming start to the preview season.

In recent episodes of the NLSC Podcast, as well as bulletins covering tidbits about NBA Live 18 and NBA 2K18, I’ve talked about this year’s preview season being a little slow to get underway. It’s frustrating, as I found myself discussing the same issue around this time last year. I had hoped that with the return of NBA Live, we might also see a return to the days where there was a constant stream of preview media and information about the upcoming games. Instead, it’s been the same trickle of info, and relative radio silence from both EA Sports and Visual Concepts.

We obviously know that NBA Live 18 and NBA 2K18 are coming out, and we’ve seen glimpses and heard a detail or two here and there, but that’s it. We know what NBA 2K18’s pre-order bonuses are, but we haven’t heard anything about new features or improvements. We do know a little more about NBA Live 18 coming out of EA Play, but the hype train stopped rolling shortly afterwards. With the way info is held back until it’s almost too late, it’s difficult not to ask the question: what happened to the preview season?

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The Friday Five: 5 Overpowered Badges in NBA 2K17

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 Badges in NBA 2K17 that are overpowered.

Badges have become an important gameplay mechanic in NBA 2K. Like their predecessors, Signature Skills, they provide players with additional traits and abilities in order to realistically represent their performance and playing style. They cover a range of offensive and defensive abilities, as well as mental traits. If you’re playing MyCAREER, 2K Pro-Am, or MyPARK, attaining Badges is absolutely crucial if you want your player to be as effective as possible. In NBA 2K17, a Gold or Hall of Fame level Badge makes a huge difference in being able to finish in traffic, knock down long threes, thread the needle on difficult passes, and so on.

As I mentioned in my Wayback Wednesday retrospective on Freestyle Superstars, concepts such as Badges represent continued innovation in terms of differentiating between players beyond their common ratings, and representing individual styles of play. While Badges have generally yielded more realistic results than Freestyle Superstars, at times they can be just as cheesy in their own right. A few Badges in NBA 2K17 are definitely overpowered, and could stand to be fine tuned for NBA 2K18. These aren’t the only problematic Badges, of course, but they are five prominent examples that immediately come to mind for me.

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Wayback Wednesday: Creating a Legend in NBA 2K11

MJ: Creating a Legend in NBA 2K11

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 MJ: Creating a Legend in NBA 2K11.

NBA 2K11 remains a very highly regarded basketball video game, and for good reason. It was a milestone release in terms of its historical content, and for many gamers, its gameplay still holds up. I’ve talked about it a couple of times in previous Wayback Wednesday features, specifically discussing the inclusion of Michael Jordan, and my efforts to finally complete the Jordan Challenge. In passing, I’ve also mentioned the mode that could be unlocked either by completing the Jordan Challenge, or by punching in the code icanbe23; namely, MJ: Creating a Legend.

Notably different from the incarnations of Creating a Legend that appeared in subsequent NBA 2K games, it’s a mode that a lot of gamers probably didn’t spend too much time with. Indeed, some have probably forgotten about it, if they even realised it was in NBA 2K11 in the first place. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: It’s Time to Retire “Cartoonish”

LeBron James in NBA Live 18

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 my least favourite buzzword, “cartoonish”.

Fellow basketball gamers, we’ve got to talk. I know that I’ve gone on about this before, in previous articles and on the NLSC Podcast. It’s admittedly hard to broach this subject without sounding like a broken record, a fanboy stamping my feet, or a tyrant aggressively attacking freedom of speech. Hear me out though, because our credibility as a gaming community is at stake here. Alright, that might be a bit of a melodramatic exaggeration, but it is one of our worst habits, and we let ourselves down whenever we fall victim to it.

It’s been run into the ground more than jokes about blowing 3-1 leads, or the Crying Jordan image macro. It’s not making us look smart and knowledgeable about our hobby, even though we absolutely are. It’s tired, lazy, and uninspired. And so, it’s time to do something about it. It’s time to expand our vocabulary. It’s time to learn how to properly critique, instead of relying on snark and overused buzzwords. Quite frankly, it’s time to grow up. It’s time that we retire the word “cartoonish” to describe textures, animations, and other aspects of basketball video games that we don’t like.

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The Friday Five: 5 Lost Official Downloads for 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 official downloads for basketball games that have been lost over time.

In our community, we know the pain of lost files. Mods, especially big projects, have been hosted all over the place throughout the years. As a result of sites being closed down and files being deleted from free hosting services after a period of inactivity, we’ve lost a lot of releases, especially from the early days. We’ve salvaged and re-uploaded files whenever possible, but there are a lot of mods that are seemingly gone for good. Of course, in theory, it is possible to create new versions of those mods which may be just as good as, or even better than the originals. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case with official downloads, such as patches and downloadable content.

Just as we’ve tried to preserve our database of unofficial patches and mods over the years, we’ve also done our best to keep a repository of official downloads. If you browse our Downloads database, you’ll find a bunch of the old official patches for NBA Live on PC, as well as demos, manuals, and so on. There are some official downloads that we haven’t been able to salvage though, which means if you don’t already have a copy of them installed or backed up somewhere, you’re out of luck. This week’s Five is a list of five official downloads that have been lost to time…at least as far as I’m aware.

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Wayback Wednesday: Freestyle Superstars in NBA Live 06

Kevin Garnett with the Freestyle Superstars shot in NBA Live 06

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 Freestyle Superstars in NBA Live 06.

As basketball video games have improved along with gaming technology in general, our expectations have also grown. When it comes to aspects such as realism, advanced or flashy moves, signature styles, and player differentiation, the bar has been raised higher and higher. Signature moves were present in EA Sports’ NBA Playoffs series, and skill levels were more defined beginning with the implementation of player ratings in NBA Live 95. However, star players still didn’t quite stand out from the pack. Freestyle Superstars was arguably EA’s first major effort to incorporate individual playing styles, and properly represent differing skill levels.

It was a concept that had its drawbacks, but I also believe that it was innovative and reasonably successful. Although the criticisms of Freestyle Superstars are fair, it’s a little underrated in terms of being an important stepping stone in the progression of basketball video games. How so? Well, let’s take a look back…way back…

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