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The Friday Five: 5 Reasons Playoffs Mode is Essential

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 offers up five reasons why a standalone Playoffs mode is essential in NBA Live and NBA 2K.

The 2018 Playoffs are well underway, with one second round match-up already set and all other first round series currently on the brink of being decided. The race for the Larry O’Brien trophy is kicking into high gear, with most of us having fun either cheering on teams and players that we like, or cheering against the ones that we don’t. I’m sure that quite a few gamers are replicating the excitement of the postseason on the virtual hardwood, having reached that point in modes like MyLEAGUE, MyGM, Franchise, or MyCAREER, or alternatively playing through a standalone tournament in Playoffs mode.

Of course, while it’s long been a staple of NBA video games, the standalone Playoffs mode has been left out of several titles. Despite the Playoffs being the only mode of play in NBA Live’s forerunner, the aptly titled NBA Playoffs series, it’s been missing from several of EA Sports’ subsequent hoops titles, including NBA Live 18. It was also dropped from a few games in the NBA 2K series, but fortunately it’s currently available as an option in the MyGM/MyLEAGUE menu. While other modes may be more popular – and let’s face it, bigger money earners – it’s essential that a standalone Playoffs mode remains in NBA 2K, and returns in future NBA Live games.

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Wayback Wednesday: Michael Jordan in 1-on-1

Michael Jordan in 1-on-1 (NBA Live 2000)

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking a look back at NBA Live 2000’s Michael Jordan in 1-on-1 mode.

Today is Tim Duncan’s 42nd birthday. Not only is the future Hall of Famer one of the greatest players in NBA history, he also graced the cover of one of the best games in the NBA Live series: NBA Live 2000. Of course, he shared the cover with an insert of Michael Jordan, who made his first official appearance in the series as a member of the newly added roster of Legends. April 25th also marked a milestone in Michael Jordan’s career, as on this date twenty-five years ago he captured his seventh straight scoring title, tying a record set by Wilt Chamberlain.

With those themes in mind, it seems logical to take another look back at NBA Live 2000. I’ve already posted an in-depth retrospective of the game, but I thought that I’d take a closer look at one of its featured attractions: Michael Jordan in 1-on-1. Making its debut in NBA Live 2000, it made sense to brand the mode with Michael Jordan’s name in order to help it stand out to gamers. It certainly did just that, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: A New Opportunity with NBA Playgrounds 2

NBA Playgrounds 2 Header

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 Saber Interactive has a new opportunity with NBA Playgrounds 2.

As I mentioned in Episode #244 of the NLSC Podcast, I’ve been meaning to write an article on how NBA Playgrounds was a missed opportunity for Saber Interactive. The game was solid and generally well-received, but several gamers, myself included, felt that it could’ve been more than what it was. While there were several fans that shot down any and all constructive criticism, often quite toxically, not all of us were ready to make excuses for its shortcomings. NBA Playgrounds had an opportunity to be this generation’s definitive arcade basketball game, but unfilled promises and potential led to it falling short of achieving that status.

However, Saber Interactive now has a new opportunity with NBA Playgrounds 2. While some gamers are questioning the release of a sequel so close to the original (and essentially abandoning further updates for the prior release), I think it’s a sound idea. NBA Jam Tournament Edition came out a year after the original Jam. EA Sports likewise released NBA Jam: On Fire Edition a year after the 2010 reboot. Each built upon its predecessor, taking the genre to new heights. Saber now has an opportunity to do the same thing with NBA Playgrounds 2, learning from their first attempt and taking gamer feedback into account. Hopefully, they’ve been taking notes.

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The Friday Five: 5 Improvements Both NBA Live 19 & NBA 2K19 Need

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 improvements that are needed in both NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19.

The NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19 Wishlists that we’ve submitted, in my opinion, comprehensively cover the most important suggestions for fixes, enhancements, and additions for both games. Each game has its own list of improvements that we’re hoping to see added in the next release; for NBA Live 19, I would suggest that it comes down to further polish to gameplay and more depth to modes. NBA 2K19, on the other hand, needs a slight course correction after some missteps in NBA 2K18. With that being said, while the games have their own issues, there are currently some that are common to both series, and areas in which they can both improve.

Please note that I’m not suggesting that these are necessarily the most important issues that must be addressed in both NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19. As I said, our Wishlists demonstrate that both games have a long laundry list of things that can be added or enhanced, and several are specific to one series or the other. Indeed, I’ve already discussed some of the specific things that NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19 need to have in previous Friday Five columns. These are just areas where both games have some common problems and room for improvements, though the respective solutions may differ slightly. With that being said, let’s get to the first item on the list.

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Wayback Wednesday: Arch Rivals Retrospective

Arch Rivals Title Screen

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 Arch Rivals.

When you think of arcade basketball video games by Midway, the titles that will most likely spring to mind are the original NBA Jam, its follow-up NBA Jam Tournament Edition, and NBA Hangtime. That stands to reason as they are some of the best games of their genre, but NBA Jam wasn’t actually Midway’s first attempt at making a foray onto the virtual hardwood. In 1989, four years before the debut of the original NBA Jam, Midway released Arch Rivals: a two-on-two basketball game with up-tempo gameplay, and a very casual approach to the rules of the sport.

Although not an official part of the NBA Jam lineage, Arch Rivals can certainly be considered a forerunner to Midway’s more famous hoops game. Indeed, while NBA Jam is usually (and rightfully) credited as defining many of the aspects which we’ve come to associate with the genre of arcade basketball games, Arch Rivals is arguably the game that pioneered them. After all, while relatively subdued compared to the games that followed, Arch Rivals stands as their obvious inspiration. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Basketball in Other Video Games

Basketball in Fallout: New Vegas

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 basketball’s presence in other genres of video games.

Here at the NLSC, we cover basketball video games; you may have noticed! We were founded as a fansite for NBA Live way back in 1996, existing for many years as the NBA Live Series Center. As the NBA 2K series grew in popularity and was finally ported to PC, we began covering it as well. When we re-branded ourselves as simply the NLSC in 2011, we decided that we’d officially dedicate ourselves to basketball gaming as a whole. Be it NBA Live, NBA 2K, NBA Jam, NBA Playgrounds, or any other hoops title, it’s a welcome topic in our Forum, and something we’ll consider creating content for.

Of course, while we’re passionate about basketball games in this community, most of us tend to play a variety of other genres, too. From platform and action games to first person shooters and RPGs, our interests extend beyond the virtual hardwood. The funny thing is that basketball tends to follow us around, showing up in settings where elements such as playcalling AI, realistic stats, and accurate player ratings are of no importance. Just for fun, I thought that I’d take a look at some other games where basketball makes a cameo, despite the title otherwise not having anything to do with the sport, or any of its most famous players.

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The Friday Five: 5 Unlucky Moments in Modding

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 of the unluckiest moments that you’ll experience while modding.

With apologies once again to anyone who suffers from paraskevidekatriaphobia, it’s Friday the 13th today, which means it’s time for another Friday Five column talking about unlucky moments! I’ve been writing the Friday Five for a few years now, and in that time, we’ve had more than a couple of Friday the 13ths. In previous columns, I’ve discussed my favourite number thirteens, unlucky moments in basketball games (as well as a few of my own examples in that regard), and unlucky moments from NBA history, including one that actually took place on the date in question.

Of course, a big part of basketball gaming in our community is the hobby of modding, and it certainly has its unlucky moments as well. I’ve previously discussed one of my unluckiest moments in modding, but there are definitely more examples that I could name. I’m sure that a lot of modders have experienced at least one of these moments at one time or another, leading to them kicking themselves and cursing out their bad luck. If there’s one upside to such unfortunate moments though, it’s that they can be learning experiences, albeit very frustrating ones. Without any further ado, here are five unlucky moments in modding!

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Wayback Wednesday: The NBA Live 96 Editor

NBA Live 96 Editor

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 NBA Live 96 Editor for Windows, also known as WNBA-Ed.

Although obviously far surpassed by its successors, NBA Live 96 is still one of my all-time favourite games in the NBA Live series. It was the first NBA Live title that I owned on PC, having played NBA Live 95 on the Super Nintendo (although I would later pick up the PC version of NBA Live 95 as well). It’s also the game that led me to discover the NLSC when my family finally got connected to the Internet, and in turn, the hobby of modding (usually called patching at the time). As such, in addition to the fun I had with the game, it’s a sentimental favourite because of its connection to my history in discovering and joining the online basketball gaming community.

The hard work of Tim, Lutz, and Brien had made it possible to mod NBA Live 95, but as I discussed in a previous article, the process could be quite fiddly, even with the tools that they created. When it came time to develop tools for NBA Live 96, they made some advances that greatly simplified the process, which delighted my teenage self and set me on a path to join the original NLSC trio and many others in the hobby of patching. One of the key tools that I soon became very familiar with was Tim’s NBA Live 96 Editor. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: The Perils of Digital-Only PC Releases

LeBron James attracts fanboys and haters (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 the drawbacks of the PC versions of basketball video games being digital-only releases.

It’s not fashionable to admit it, but I’m still a fan of physical media. Part of that comes down to where I live, of course. Australian Internet speeds don’t always make digital releases for PC games desirable, and certain streaming services are either unavailable, or don’t carry the same selection as their US counterparts. A DVD, Blu Ray, or game disc not only alleviates any issues with Internet speed and data limits, but also offers a physical collectable that I can put on a shelf. Be it TV series, movies, or video games, I enjoy seeing them all lined up in my collection.

Of course, I also enjoy the benefits of digital releases. They obviously provide a lot of convenience, and save on shelf space. There’s no need to drive to the store, or wait for copies to arrive in the mail. Physical media can be lost or damaged, while a digital release can just be downloaded again. When they’re tied to a platform such as Steam, there are no issues with lost or invalid serial numbers, and patches will come through automatically. These days, we don’t actually have a choice in terms of the only PC sim basketball video game, as NBA 2K is only released via Steam. It’s preferable to having no PC version at all, but there are some perils to digital-only PC releases.

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The Friday Five: 5 Players Who Could Be On Multiple All-Time Teams

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 who I feel could and arguably should be appearing on multiple All-Time teams in NBA 2K.

Despite a couple of omissions, the All-Time squads were a very welcome addition in NBA 2K18. I’m hoping that those teams will remain in the game moving forward, as they provide an opportunity to play with a variety of retro players who don’t have their own historical squads. I also hope that players such as Charles Barkley, Moses Malone, and Reggie Miller can be included at some point. Their omission has led to the inclusion of some less than ideal players on the All-Time teams, including a few active players who are certainly good, but lack the same historical significance.

It’s not just the absence of a few big names that makes some of the active players on the All-Time teams stick out like a sore thumb, however. There are historical players already in the game that could feasibly appear on a couple of other All-Time squads, replacing active players who aren’t stars of the same magnitude. While it could be argued that they didn’t have as big of an impact with those teams, or that their stints were too short, some All-Time teams do include players who had a very short tenure with them. With that in mind, here are five players who are not currently on multiple All-Time teams, but I believe could and should be.

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 2003’s Three-Point Exploit

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 topic related to NBA Live 2003, namely its step-back three-point exploit.

Ensuring that a basketball video game is completely free of cheesy moves and other exploits is much easier said than done. As such, even today gamers will find tricks that aren’t realistic basketball strategy, but certainly effective against the CPU and other users alike. In older basketball video games, with their far more primitive AI and mechanics, simple strategies and reliable exploits tended to be the most effective means of picking up win after win. From the corner three in Double Dribble to the Outside Scorer moves in NBA Live 06, most games had at least one exploitable tactic.

As I noted in my retrospective of NBA Live 2003, the game strayed rather noticeably from the usual sim approach in most areas, and the overpowering nature of the new Freestyle Control turned gameplay into a wild shootout. One of the most powerful exploits allowed gamers to knock down three after three following a step-back, a trick that was effective even on higher difficulty levels. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Absolute Controls Are Absolutely Best

James Harden dribbles the basketball 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 few thoughts on the Absolute controls setting in NBA 2K games, and why I feel they are the best approach.

It took me a while to get used to the controls in NBA 2K. Having spent years playing NBA Live, it was difficult getting used to dribbling moves being performed with left stick movement and the Isomotion trigger. Even after the series adopted right stick dribbling controls in NBA 2K13, I wasn’t quite as proficient in pulling off slick moves and breaking ankles as I had been in NBA Live. Eventually, I discovered the root of my clumsiness on the sticks: the default Camera Relative controller setting, which makes stick movement dependant on your player’s position relative to the camera.

The Absolute setting, which standardises stick movements no matter where you are on the court and which camera angle you’re using, made NBA 2K’s controls far more accessible to me. It helps that it’s the same approach that NBA Live has always used for its right stick controls, but aside from familiarity, I’ve always felt it simply made more sense. There’s a legacy issue in NBA 2K where the Camera Relative/Absolute setting randomly resets, which means I’m always checking to make sure that it’s still set to Absolute before I start a session. After all, when it comes to dribbling controls, I strongly feel that Absolute controls are absolutely best.

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The Friday Five: 5 Annoying Stats Bugs in Basketball Games

The Friday Five

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

Stats in basketball video games are perhaps just as important as they are in the real NBA. Sure, we want to see life-like animations, realistic strategy, and play games that feel good on the sticks, but accurate scores and statistics are a major factor in having as much realism as possible in a sim-oriented title. Even if you’re a gamer who takes a more casual approach to the accuracy of simulated and user-generated stats, chances are you’re interested in the stat-tracking aspect of basketball games, especially if you enjoy putting up big numbers on the virtual hardwood.

Unfortunately for gamers who care about stats one way another – whether it’s posting huge numbers every game, or enjoying a realistic style of gameplay with more true-to-life performances – various games have featured annoying bugs related to the in-game statistics. From undesirable sim engine results to errors with stat tracking and displays, these glitches have adversely affected some aspect of the numbers that are accumulated on the virtual hardwood. Be it a lack of accuracy or just a feeling of accomplishment that you feel cheated out of, here are five of the most annoying stats bugs that have been encountered in basketball video games.

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 2003’s Settings Myth

Allen Iverson 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 a popular myth regarding a gameplay setting in NBA Live 2003.

As I noted in my retrospective of NBA Live 2003, while the game was a landmark title in terms of introducing right stick dribbling controls, it came up short as far as the level of realism was concerned. Needless to say, despite our disappointment with that aspect of the gameplay, we did our best as a community to find ways of enhancing the experience. The most common was making mass tweaks to the ratings in order to alter the gameplay, but this had undesirable side effects in Franchise mode, especially when it came time for the game to generate a new class of fictional rookies.

Not long after NBA Live 2003’s release, a claim was made that a bug in the game’s settings was responsible for the lack of realism in the gameplay. This naturally led to a lot of excitement, with gamers enthusiastically trying out the suggested workaround, hoping that it would lead to a more desirable sim-oriented experience. Although the suggestion was quickly proven to be a myth, that didn’t stop gamers from insisting otherwise. It’s an interesting situation to reflect upon after all these years, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Building My 90s All-Stars Ultimate Team

Ultimate Team: Scottie Pippen 90s All-Stars (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 an update on my efforts to build a team of 90s All-Stars in NBA Live 18’s Ultimate Team.

As I’ve noted in previous articles and in episodes of the NLSC Podcast, my current mode of choice in NBA Live 18 is Ultimate Team. Unfortunately, Franchise mode just isn’t where it needs to be yet, and while I do like the concept of LIVE Events and LIVE Run, living in Australia, I’ve found online play to be very choppy so far in NBA Live 18. While I obviously hope NBA Live 19 will see an improvement in both of those areas, for the moment I am enjoying playing Ultimate Team. I was taken in by the mode when it debuted in NBA Live 14, so even if those other modes were more appealing to me right now, I know that I’d still be spending some time with LUT.

I spent a considerable amount of time with Ultimate Team back in NBA Live 15, and managed to put together a team comprised of 90s Legends. As Legends packs began to be released for NBA Live 18, I decided that I wanted to try that again, especially as it’s currently still the only way to play with Legends in NBA Live. After drawing Scottie Pippen a few weeks back, those efforts got off to a very promising start. After adding John Stockton and Karl Malone last week, I found myself with a formidable starting five that’s reminiscent of the old 90s All-Stars squad. While I’m quite satisfied with that lineup, I wanted to round out the bench with some more 90s players.

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