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The Friday Five: 5 Times Last Gen Games Surprised Us

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 times that last gen games surprised us with an unexpected feature.

With the PlayStation 5 reveal event bringing us the official announcement of, and first look at NBA 2K21, we’re heading full steam ahead into the next generation. There are obviously plenty of questions yet to be answered, and more than a couple of concerns to be allayed. While NBA 2K14 wowed us pre-launch with the OMG Trailer, many of us were disappointed by the absence of staple features such as full roster editing, the traditional franchise mode, a standalone Playoffs mode, and other aspects missing from the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One version (until NBA 2K15 brought them back).

There’s also the question of whether the PC version of NBA 2K21 will be a port of the last gen or next gen release. Glancing back at what happened with NBA 2K14, we had to wait a year until the PC port caught up to the new generation. And of course, we have to wonder what will happen with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, which will become last gen upon the release of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. It seems almost inevitable that they’ll become afterthoughts in terms of quality and content, but if we look back through the years, there are a few times that last gen games surprised us with new features and content. Here are five such examples!

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Wayback Wednesday: Euroleague in NBA Games

Wayback Wednesday: Euroleague in NBA Games

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 Euroleague content in NBA games.

For as long as we’ve been able to mod NBA Live and NBA 2K, people have made total conversions that replace the NBA teams. College basketball mods are quite popular, but foreign league projects have also been in demand. The popularity and prestige of Euroleague has made it a mainstay of total conversion mods, not to mention a league that a lot of gamers would like to see receive its own game. There has been an official management game, of course, but we’re yet to see a gameplay-oriented Euroleague title.

Of course, we have seen Euroleague teams featured in NBA video games as bonus content. Their inclusion has expanded upon the traditional NBA-oriented experience, but has also drawn criticism due to inconsistent quality. It remains to be seen if any developer sees enough interest and potential profit to produce a Euroleague game, but for now, we’ve at least been able to get a small taste of Europe’s premier basketball competition via a handful of NBA titles. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: The Right Combination With Locker Codes

Monday Tip-Off: The Right Combination With Locker Codes

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 NBA 2K has finally hit the right combination with Locker Codes.

In one of my earliest Monday Tip-Off articles back in 2015, I criticised Locker Codes for the way they’d been implemented in NBA 2K. At the time, all codes were severely limited in both quantity and the amount of time gamers had to redeem them. To that point, gamers in different time zones rarely had a chance to successfully redeem any codes. Even if you made it a point to wait around for a Locker Code drop with the game loaded and code entry screen in front of you, the limited quantity always meant that your chances of successfully redeeming a prize were incredibly slim.

Furthermore, Locker Codes often yielded useless rewards, such as 100 VC or MT, or a shoe or animation for your MyPLAYER, even if you weren’t playing MyCAREER. It’s for that reason I included Locker Codes in a Friday Five list of useless features back in 2017. At the time I received some pushback on Twitter from someone who clearly didn’t bother to read my explanation, which was that while the concept wasn’t bad or pointless, the execution of the idea limited their usefulness. Fortunately, that’s no longer the case. Over the past couple of years, NBA 2K19 and NBA 2K20 have made much better use of Locker Codes, and deserve credit for making that change.

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The Friday Five: 5 Differences in PC & Console 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 differences between the PC and console versions of various basketball games.

Our choice of gaming platform remains one of the pettiest parts of the hobby. Gamers who prefer PlayStation or Xbox to the exclusion of all other consoles will snipe back and forth with each other, comparing specs, exclusives, and anything else that will allow them to feel like their personal preference is intellectually (and even morally) superior. The other big and perpetual gaming war, of course, is PC vs. Console. I’m sure that you’re familiar with all the arguments, stereotypes, and insults that are flung back and forth as everyone engages in frothing-at-the-mouth tribalism.

Personally, I believe that gamers game. Give me a platform, a game, and ask me to play it and tell you what I think, and I’ll give it a shot! If PC gaming or a specific console works for you and you’re happy with your choice, more power to you. I’ll admit to being Team Nintendo during the Nintendo vs. SEGA war of the 90s, but when it comes to PC and console, I’ve actually always played games on both. I do that because certain titles and series have been exclusive, but I’ve also played the same basketball games on multiple platforms, and noticed some interesting differences between releases. There have been quite a few, but here are five noteworthy ones.

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Wayback Wednesday: Bug Hunting in NBA Live 96 PC

Wayback Wednesday: Bug Hunting in NBA Live 96 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 going bug hunting in NBA Live 96 PC.

It’s strange how certain memories will randomly pop into your head. Last year, I whipped up a video illustrating a tall tale that I heard about Michael Jordan many years ago. It’s something I hadn’t thought about in years, but something jogged my memory, and I felt like reflecting on that ridiculous story. The same thing happens with basketball video games. I’ll randomly remember a feature or something that I once experienced, and it strikes me as a good idea for a Wayback Wednesday feature. It’s as good of an excuse as any to revisit some old favourites, too.

Of course, our memories aren’t always reliable. I’ve discussed the phenomenon of having false memories of basketball video games in The Friday Five, and indeed, I had enough examples for second column. It pays to double-check, and there are Wayback Wednesday features I’ve had to amend (and in one case, re-write completely) when I haven’t done my due diligence. With that in mind, on this occasion I’m making the research itself into the feature! There’s an error that I vaguely recalled encountering in the PC version of NBA Live 96, so this week, I’m going bug hunting. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Can NBA Live Be Relevant Again?

Monday Tip-Off: Can NBA Live Be Relevant Again?

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 by pondering the question: can NBA Live be relevant again?

As a long-time basketball gamer that grew up with NBA Live, it gives me no joy to dump on the franchise. I believe that there are content creators out there who delight at the series’ struggles and subsequently ripping into it, but I’m certainly not one of them. For all the great things that NBA 2K has done, the slips in quality here and there, and of course the increased focus on microtransactions, demonstrate why it’s important to have choice and competition in the basketball gaming space. Some say NBA Live should just pack it in, but frankly, we need it, and we need it to succeed.

Unfortunately, that’s much easier said than done. NBA Live has struggled to get to where it needs to be over the past decade. Again, it brings me no joy to say that, nor do I relish pointing out that not only has its quality suffered, but so has its relevance. Indeed, a friend of mine who isn’t really into basketball, but picked up NBA 2K20 on special after watching The Last Dance, mentioned he was surprised that EA Sports doesn’t have a new basketball game out. It’s not surprising that someone who isn’t into the scene doesn’t know the full story behind the fall of NBA Live, but nevertheless, it speaks volumes about its relevance today. The question is: can EA change that?

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The Friday Five: 5 Times You Can Play Before The Main Menu

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 examples of times we could jump right into gameplay in basketball games, before we’ve even brought up the main menu.

Given all the modes and options that are available in basketball games, as well as the need to select teams before entering a game, a main menu has generally always come between the title screen and gameplay. That isn’t unique to the genre, of course. Most games can’t be played until you’ve reached the main menu and made some selections. Even most of the very early video games and classic platformers of the 8-bit era didn’t go immediately into gameplay. If nothing else, we were presented with basic options such as the number of players, or asked to press Start to get the ball rolling.

There are exceptions, of course. In a way, they’re the video game version of a cold opening for a TV show. It hasn’t been especially common in basketball video games, but there are titles that drop us right into gameplay before we ever see the main menu. Many of these instances only occur the first time we boot up a game (or if we reinstall it with no user data present), but a selection of games have allowed us to participate in some form of gameplay before the main menu is displayed. It’s not something that we usually consider vital to the experience, but they have been fun ideas that give us something to do, while showing off new tech and features. These include things like…

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Wayback Wednesday: Quick Strike Ballhandling

Wayback Wednesday: Quick Strike Ballhandling

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 Quick Strike Ballhandling, also known as Quick Strike Ankle Breakers.

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to call right stick dribbling controls one of the biggest, best, and most important advancements in basketball gaming. Although we were able to perform crossovers, spins, and other dribbling moves before Freestyle Control made its debut in NBA Live 2003, we were at the mercy of a button press as far as the specific move that was performed. Not only were we in complete control with Freestyle, we could perform moves on command that would’ve been far harder to implement using the old approach of face buttons for random dribbling moves.

As the years passed, EA Sports expanded on their player control concepts with ideas such as Freestyle Superstars, eventually dubbing their control scheme Total Freestyle Control. In the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 version of NBA Live 08 however, the controls were revamped once again. Freestyle Superstars was replaced by Go-To Moves, shooting went back to two buttons (a jumpshot and a combined dunk/layup button), and the dribbling mechanics were now called Quick Strike Ballhandling. Although it was a familiar system, it was more than just a new name. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: The Online Experience We’ll Never Have

Monday Tip-Off: The Online Experience We'll Never Have

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 online experience I’d love to see in NBA 2K, but we’re highly unlikely to ever have.

Aside from some admittedly fun sessions of 3v3 Pro-Am and jumping into The Rec after spinning double MyREP on the Prize Wheel, I’ve not been playing online in NBA 2K20. I’d been dabbling with a session or two in The Rec every so often, but in order to finally let MyCAREER go, I’ve focused on finishing my rookie season and generally avoided taking part in any of the connected experiences. Thanks to so many hit-or-miss sessions, I no longer have the same enthusiasm for the online experience that I once did. It’s made it much easier to abstain from those modes.

Even the satisfying runs in 3v3 Pro-Am had their annoyances. Despite playing well and even winning eight games in a single session, I somehow dropped from 99.9 to 99.4 Overall, spotlighting some of the major flaws with the MyREP and Overall Rating systems in NBA 2K20. Of course, the tendency to punish rather than reward is just one of the problems with the online experience in NBA 2K. It’s unfortunate, as online play in NBA 2K should be so much better than it is. From issues with lag and matchmaking to meta-gaming and what it takes to get there, I can’t help thinking about the online experience that NBA 2K should offer, but we’re unlikely to see.

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The Friday Five: 5 Expensive Basketball Games to Collect

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 of the most expensive basketball games that collectors can buy.

For the serious collector, retro video games can be an expensive hobby. There are some rare titles that don’t come cheap, and among them, you’ll find a few basketball games. Because licensing and likeness rights make remakes and re-releases highly unlikely when it comes to hoops games, anyone who wants to own a legal copy of these rarities will have to search high and low, and pay a hefty price. One exception is Street Hoop for Neo Geo. While original copies can still demand a large sum, it has since been re-released digitally on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.

Such is the benefit of a game that doesn’t feature any licensed players. Of course, the most widely released NBA games usually aren’t expensive to track down and acquire, unless they’re in mint condition. Annual sports games aren’t big money-makers on the second hand market, so with the exception of PC releases of NBA 2K being removed from Steam, older basketball games are readily available (and affordable). As I said though, there are a few rare hoops titles that are difficult to find, and quite expensive to obtain when you do locate a copy. I fancy myself a collector of basketball video games, but I’d need to be much wealthier to consider picking up these expensive titles.

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

Wayback Wednesday: Familiar Faces in Strange 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 some more NBA players who became familiar faces in strange places, and those stints in video games.

As I said in my first Wayback Wednesday article covering this topic, there’s definitely something oddly fascinating in seeing familiar faces in strange places. We often claim that we wish that those stints didn’t happen or that we could forget all about them, yet they’re burned into our memories. It’s hard to forget something that looks strange and out of place, and that certainly describes the image of players wearing the uniform of a team other than the one we associate them with the most. The time capsule-like nature of video games helps us to remember – and also replay – these unusual stints.

I mentioned that there were more examples than the ten I covered in my first article, and to that end, I have another ten to share today. This time, not all of the players were perennial All-Stars, but they are familiar names who ended up in strange places. In fact, a couple of these stints were so brief that the only way to experience them again on the virtual hardwood is to load very specific roster saves – assuming that you still have them, of course – or by recreating them. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: MyPLAYER in the Middle

Monday Tip-Off: MyPLAYER in the Middle

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 recap of my experiences playing MyCAREER in NBA 2K20 with a MyPLAYER that’s a centre rather than a point guard. As a side note, please be forewarned that I use the Australian spelling of “centre” throughout this article.

My time playing MyCAREER regularly in NBA 2K20 has come to an end. After I ended up being drawn back into the mode, I finished a full season with my traditional point guard build, winning the championship and setting an assortment of records. The MyPLAYER build I chose has also proven to be suitable for online play, and while the online experience is as hit-and-miss as ever in NBA 2K20, when it has been good, I’ve really enjoyed playing my usual role. After starting the second season by averaging a quadruple-double, I’m going to try simming my way to the Hall of Fame.

That’s not the only experiment I’m running in MyCAREER, though. Although I do want to put the mode aside, I have created a second player. I’ve enjoyed being a point guard since being thrust into the role back in NBA 2K13, and have learned the meta-gaming idiosyncrasies for my preferred build at that position. It’s helped me rack up assists, which I’ve come to really enjoy doing. However, when I was playing in my local junior league many years ago, I was a centre that loved to rebound and block shots. I decided to create a MyPLAYER that reflected my actual playing style and position, in order to see what MyCAREER is like as the man in the middle.

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The Friday Five: 5 Games With Untapped Modding Potential

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 games that have untapped modding potential.

At the NLSC, our modding community prides itself in doing all that it can to change and enhance the experience provided by basketball video games. We started doing it from the beginning of the NBA Live series with NBA Live 95 PC, and brought the hobby to NBA 2K when it came to the platform. As long as we’ve had the necessary tools, knowledge, and perseverance, we’ve created all kinds of projects from current rosters to retro season and NCAA total conversion mods. We’ve updated player and team art, changed menus and presentation elements, and even made new soundtracks.

Name an NBA Live or NBA 2K game that’s come out on PC, and you’ll be able to recall a memorable mod. However, for all our hard work and creativity, there are a few games that stand out as having untapped modding potential. Whether we couldn’t figure something out or the necessary tools were developed too late in a game’s life cycle, there are some titles where we could’ve perhaps done more. On top of that, because of our focus on NBA Live and NBA 2K, there are a couple of other games that we didn’t pay attention to, leaving them with untapped modding potential of their own. Here are five games that we could’ve done more with (and perhaps still could).

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 08 Draft Camp & Summer Camp

Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 08 Draft Camp & Summer Camp

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 08 Draft Camp and Summer Camp.

With NBA Live’s struggles over the past decade, it’s easy to forget – or indeed, not be aware of – just how popular the brand once was. Although NBA 2K received positive reviews since its inception, NBA Live remained the best-selling NBA sim up until the 2009 season, when NBA 2K9 edged out NBA Live 09 in sales. Even then, NBA Live remained competitive and popular among basketball gamers, until the cancellation of NBA Elite 11 changed the course of the series. As such, these days it’s NBA 2K that’s prominent in pop culture and the cool brand among NBA players and gamers alike.

Around the time of NBA Live 08 however, it was EA Sports that was touting their relationship with NBA players, and bringing them in for events. In fact, during the development of NBA Live 08, EA held two events that served as mo-cap sessions and a source of promotional materials: the Draft Camp, and the Summer Camp. A quick Google search reveals that there isn’t much in the way of information about or media from those events, so I thought it’d be fun to chronicle them for Wayback Wednesday. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: The Right Direction for NBA Live

Monday Tip-Off: The Right Direction for NBA Live

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 my thoughts on the right direction for NBA Live.

Needless to say, the past decade has been tough for NBA Live. Through cancelled titles and skipped years, the series has seen only five releases during that span. There have been promising aspects and good ideas present in those five games, and it could be argued that at least a couple of titles have been solid, but EA Sports has failed to move the needle. NBA Live is still languishing far behind where it needs to be as a viable alternative to NBA 2K and the enormous gulf in sales speaks volumes. NBA 2K has its issues, but NBA Live hasn’t been able to capitalise on gamer frustration.

The good news is that the door hasn’t been slammed shut on NBA Live. Thanks to a combination of readily apparent potential and 2K squandering goodwill, there is still interest in seeing NBA Live return to its former glory. Unfortunately, the series’ steps towards reaching that goal haven’t been as large as many of us would’ve liked, and one of the main reasons for that is the direction of the series. More specifically, this includes both the particular choices that have been made, and the tendency to change direction too often. NBA Live needs to have the right focus moving forward, but that raises the question: what is the right direction for NBA Live to take?

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