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Wayback Wednesday: Revisiting NBA Live 2003

Wayback Wednesday: Revisiting NBA Live 2003

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! From retrospectives of basketball games and their interesting features, to republished articles and looking at NBA history through the lens of the virtual hardwood, Wednesdays at the NLSC are for going back in time. This week, I’m revisiting NBA Live 2003 yet again, albeit with a slightly different perspective.

I’ve profiled NBA Live 2003 in a number of articles now. In addition to the in-depth retrospectives for the 20th and 25th anniversaries of the NBA Live series, I’ve also taken a look back at Freestyle Control. I’ve reminisced about the Courtside Comedy Cutscenes, a myth about the gameplay style settings, the soundtrack, and even my attempts to replicate a move seen in the game’s intro. In short, not only did I spend hours playing and modding NBA Live 2003 when it was new, but I’ve often gone back and revisited it years later. As such, this may seem like a well-trodden path.

However, I do believe that I have some new things to say after revisiting NBA Live 2003 more recently. We’ve also reached the game’s own 20th anniversary, and with my twenty year high school reunion right around the corner, it’s another game that I’ve been reflecting upon. This won’t be an in-depth review along the lines of my previous retrospectives, and I do still stand by observations I’ve made in the past. Nevertheless, even though I played it frequently upon release compared to games like NBA 2K14, NBA Live 06 for Xbox 360, and NBA Live 10, I appreciate NBA Live 2003 far more after revisiting it in 2022. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: A Reunion With 2002

Monday Tip-Off: A Reunion With 2002

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Join me as I begin the week here at the NLSC with my opinions and commentary on basketball gaming topics, as well as tales of the fun I’ve been having on the virtual hardwood. This week, I’m tipping things off with some reflections as I experience a reunion with 2002.

The song changes from “Without Me” by Eminem to Junkie XL’s remix of Elvis Presley’s “A Little Less Conversation”. Speaking of remixes, Scooter’s take on “The Logical Song” by Supertramp is also on the playlist, along with “By the Way” by Red Hot Chili Peppers. There’s even some Avril Lavigne, among other chart toppers. And speaking of music, that NBA Live 2003 soundtrack is incredible! It’s one of the games that I’m playing, along with its immediate predecessors, NBA Live 2001 and NBA Live 2002. Even NBA Live 99 PC gets the occasional spin. The year is…2022.

Needless to say, I’m experiencing those things a little differently than the first time around. Those hits that were charting in 2002 are on a Spotify playlist, rather than CD or radio (or, more honestly, acquired via LimeWire or Kazaa). Those games are being played thanks to fixes that allow them to run on modern hardware far better than what I had at the time. Thanks to emulation, I can even run NBA Live 2002 on my PC if I’m getting screenshots, or if it’s more convenient than firing up my PlayStation 2. In more ways than one, I’m having a reunion with 2002. Despite what you may think, this isn’t a cry for help from a Grumpy Elder Millennial who’s edging closer to forty.

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The Sunday Substitute: The MyPLAYER Transaction Report (Part 2)

MyPLAYER holding up the MVP trophy in NBA 2K17.

Welcome to another edition of The Sunday Substitute! This is an occasional end-of-week feature where I share my experiences in basketball gaming, as well as give my two cents on certain issues within the space. Today I resume with Part 2 of The MyPLAYER Transaction Report.

The MyPLAYER Transaction Report is a series where I chronicle my career campaigns in basketball video games. Whether it’s one game or a thousand games, every stop along the way counts. So far, I’ve played for 28 teams…try and guess the last two I haven’t played for!

This second part is arguably the golden era of this series. It includes some of my greatest moments in career stories and my first foray into an alternate build. NBA Live also debuts in this edition, with NBA Live 16 and 18 providing career modes that could have been a great foundation for the series moving forward.

Let’s start by continuing with a build I mention in Part 1.

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NLSC Top 10 Plays of the Week: November 19th, 2022

NLSC Top 10 Plays of the Week

Get ready for more fantastic highlights from the basketball gaming community in the NLSC Top 10 Plays of the Week, curated by Dee4Three! New and old games alike are featured in this celebration of spectacular moments on the virtual hardwood. To submit your clips, post them in this topic, or hit up Dee on Twitter.

This week’s NLSC Top 10 Plays brings you a mix of highlights that ran the gamut of jaw-dropping, wild, and wacky. From full court flings to off-the-backboard alley-oops that prove you don’t need to be playing NBA Street to have incredible moments on the virtual blacktop, our latest countdown has it all. Top 10 regular Julius Erving also makes an appearance, and my NBA 2K14 avatar has a smooth highlight courtesy of my new Elgato capture card. As always, these plays from six different titles will get you hyped to play basketball video games this weekend!

What was your favourite highlight this week? Sound off in the comments below, and once again, get in on the fun by sending us your best plays! Remember, as long as it’s a basketball game, it’s eligible for the countdown. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to us on YouTube for more basketball gaming videos.

The Friday Five: 5 Players In More Video Games Than NBA Games Played (Part 9)

The Friday Five: 5 Players In More Video Games Than NBA Games Played (Part 9)

Welcome to another edition of The Friday Five! Every Friday I cover a topic related to basketball gaming, either as a list of five items, or a Top 5 countdown. The topics for these lists and countdowns include everything from fun facts and recollections to commentary and critique. This week’s Five is Part 9 in an ongoing series listing players that appeared in more video games than actual NBA games.

We’ve arrived at the ninth and (for the moment) final instalment in this series of articles looking at players that have appeared in more video games than NBA games. In hindsight, this could’ve been a few longer articles for Wayback Wednesday, but when I posted the first instalment, I had no idea that I’d find so many examples! As it is, I discarded a number of players that I originally noted in my research. Otherwise, there’d probably be at least four or five more parts, and to be honest, not every player on those lists has a unique story, or interesting tidbit of virtual hardwood trivia.

Indeed, there’s overlap in the reasons that players end up appearing in more video games than actual NBA games. The common factor, of course, is that they were signed to a contract while a game was in production and its rosters were finalised, only to be cut before they could make their official NBA debut. It’s all down to the timing of their signing and release. Nevertheless, over the course of this series, my research has turned up what I feel are some fascinating stories tied in with video game trivia, which is something that I enjoy talking about. I hope that it’s been fun for you, but before I wrap up this series, here are five final examples…at least for now.

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Wayback Wednesday: The Missing Rookies of NBA Live 2002

Wayback Wednesday: The Missing Rookies of NBA Live 2002

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! From retrospectives of basketball games and their interesting features, to republished articles and looking at NBA history through the lens of the virtual hardwood, Wednesdays at the NLSC are for going back in time. This week, I’m taking a look back at the rookies that were missing in NBA Live 2002.

Official roster updates are something that we take for granted these days, especially on console. As long as we’ve had modding tools on PC, adding missing rookies and other players – eventually complete with their proper faces – has usually been a fairly straightforward task. Of course, there’s always been value in players being added through official updates. It allows them to appear in the default rosters, and in some cases utilise correct audio. They also don’t stand out from original players, as was the case in older games with more primitive Create-a-Player functionality.

Since playing with the new rookie class is an appealing prospect every year, it’s disappointing when a noteworthy draftee is absent. In older titles, that could arguably be more frustrating than the absence of holdouts such as Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley. At least in their case, developers were unable to license them. With missing rookies, their absence came down to simply not being signed to an NBA contract in time. Funnily enough, NBA Live 2002 did include MJ as an active player due to his comeback with the Washington Wizards, while a handful of prominent rookies were missing instead. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: A PSA About NBA 2K Custom Images

Monday Tip-Off: A PSA About NBA 2K Custom Images

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Join me as I begin the week here at the NLSC with my opinions and commentary on basketball gaming topics, as well as tales of the fun I’ve been having on the virtual hardwood. This week, I’m tipping things off with a PSA about the responsible use of custom images in the various modes of NBA 2K.

It’s easy to take features such as face scanning and custom images for granted, as they’ve been in NBA 2K for years now. In particular, the level of customisation that image uploading facilitates is a clear advantage that NBA 2K’s modes have had over their NBA Live equivalents during the past decade. Sure, it’s fun to get your favourite team’s logos and jerseys for your squad in the card collecting modes, but it’s even better when you can design your own uniforms and use a custom logo! The default expansion team assets are nice, but custom images take things to the next level.

And of course, since those customisation features are already in the game, they’re naturally a part of creating your own Pro-Am squad as well. In fact, it’s one of the features that have separated it from NBA Live’s online team play modes. Just as in MyTEAM, being able to use your own logo and decorate your arena with unique assets adds a personal touch that current and historical NBA branding just can’t offer. Sometimes custom images have been more difficult to unlock than they should be, but at the same time, I can’t blame 2K for making us jump through hoops. To that end, I’d like to put out this PSA to be more responsible and mature about custom images.

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NLSC Top 10 Plays of the Week: November 12th, 2022

NLSC Top 10 Plays of the Week

Get ready for more fantastic highlights from the basketball gaming community in the NLSC Top 10 Plays of the Week, curated by Dee4Three! New and old games alike are featured in this celebration of spectacular moments on the virtual hardwood. To submit your clips, post them in this topic, or hit up Dee on Twitter.

Defense wins championships, but so do title-clinching buzzer-beaters! You’ll see both featured in this week’s NLSC Top 10 Plays, with some of that tough D leading to exciting buckets at the other end. That includes my submission of a swipe-and-slam by Penny Hardaway in NBA 2K6 for Xbox 360, courtesy of my new Elgato HD60 S that I discussed in last week’s NLSC Podcast! A total of five different titles are represented this week, ranging from NBA Live 06 PC and the aforementioned NBA 2K6 through to NBA 2K23 Next Gen, once again ensuring a variety of virtual hardwood highlights.

What was your favourite highlight this week? Sound off in the comments below, and once again, get in on the fun by sending us your best plays! Remember, as long as it’s a basketball game, it’s eligible for the countdown. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to us on YouTube for more basketball gaming videos.

The Friday Five: 5 Players Who Only Appeared on Certain Teams in Games (Part 7)

The Friday Five: 5 Players Who Only Appeared on Certain Teams in Games (Part 7)

Welcome to another edition of The Friday Five! Every Friday I cover a topic related to basketball gaming, either as a list of five items, or a Top 5 countdown. The topics for these lists and countdowns include everything from fun facts and recollections to commentary and critique. This week’s Five is Part 7 in an ongoing series where I look at players who only appeared on certain teams in video games.

Yes, we’ve reached a seventh instalment of this series profiling the players that only played for certain teams on the virtual hardwood! Whether it was due to an injury that shelved them for their entire tenure, an offseason move that was outdated by the time a game shipped, or some other circumstance, there are players whose stints with teams didn’t include any playing time in real life, but resulted in the opportunity to suit up for them in video games. As official roster updates became common, we’ve seen more of these on-paper/”phantom stints”, especially with journeymen.

This was originally meant to be the final instalment in this series, at least for now. However, I’ve had some more great examples pointed out to me, including a few very prominent players whose phantom stints I’ve overlooked in compiling the first seven articles. I suppose that speaks to how obscure some of those appearances were, and how easy it is to forget about them with so many games coming out over the years! I will get to them at some point – shout out to David for helping me out there – but in the meantime I’ve got five more examples, most of whom were fairly well-known role players back in their day, though younger fans may not be as familiar with them.

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Wayback Wednesday: Virtual Stadium Technology

Wayback Wednesday: Virtual Stadium Technology

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! From retrospectives of basketball games and their interesting features, to republished articles and looking at NBA history through the lens of the virtual hardwood, Wednesdays at the NLSC are for going back in time. This week, I’m taking a look back at Virtual Stadium Technology in the early NBA Live games.

In our desire to see games and gaming technology constantly improve, we obsess over specifications. This isn’t a new phenomenon, of course. One only needs to look back at the console wars of the 90s, where the number of bits and jargon such as Sega’s “blast processing” were thrown back and forth in the eternal fanboy debates. These days, we’re also aware of the most popular game engines, and the use of technology that we hold in high esteem is often celebrated. We also speculate on how it could help the games we’re interested in. “If only NBA Live had used Frostbite!”

It’s interesting to see how the engines and tech of different basketball games have been hyped through the years. Eco-Motion may not have lasted, but it was definitely well-received in NBA 2K14 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Conversely, although EA Sports’ IGNITE engine worked out well for other titles, it didn’t make NBA Live better than its predecessors. The Playmaker Engine in NBA Live 13 sounded good on paper, but the game shaped up so poorly that it was cancelled. And then, there’s NBA Live’s Virtual Stadium Technology. What did that entail? Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: A Failure to Communicate

Monday Tip-Off: A Failure to Communicate

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Join me as I begin the week here at the NLSC with my opinions and commentary on basketball gaming topics, as well as tales of the fun I’ve been having on the virtual hardwood. This week, I’m tipping things off with some reflections on 2K and their failure to communicate.

Social media has granted us more access to brands than ever before. Whether it’s getting in touch when there’s a problem, or staying up to date on new products and services, it’s as simple as following an official account. The way that we interact with brands is a reflection of online discourse in general, running the gamut of friendliness and respectfulness. It’s why I’ll always advocate for constructive feedback and not stooping to the level of personal attacks. Of course, I also understand feeling so frustrated that your words end up being terser than you perhaps intended.

How about the way that brands interact with us? While many official social media accounts stick to professional, PR-friendly posts and replies, some brands have developed a reputation for being provocative. The official Wendy’s account has built an online brand of sass, poking fun at its competitors and involving itself in trending topics with an assortment of zingers. Other accounts have followed their lead, with mixed results. After all, a corporation jumping on memes is often a “How do you do, fellow kids” moment. Even if it’s not, it can come across as tone-deaf, particularly when a company like 2K has demonstrated a failure to communicate with respect.

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NLSC Top 10 Plays of the Week: November 5th, 2022

NLSC Top 10 Plays of the Week

Get ready for more fantastic highlights from the basketball gaming community in the NLSC Top 10 Plays of the Week, curated by Dee4Three! New and old games alike are featured in this celebration of spectacular moments on the virtual hardwood. To submit your clips, post them in this topic, or hit up Dee on Twitter.

Once again, contact dunks in Next Gen NBA 2K have produced some immensely satisfying posters in this week’s NLSC Top 10 Plays! Of course, video game dunks have always been exciting, as demonstrated by an alley-oop finish from Reggie Lewis in NBA Live 96, using the work-in-progress roster that we discussed in last week’s NLSC Podcast. The NBA Live 2001 Legends are also up to their usual tricks, while the top two spots belong to a couple of very unique highlights. As always, these great plays from six different games will get you in the mood for a fun weekend of basketball gaming!

What was your favourite highlight this week? Sound off in the comments below, and once again, get in on the fun by sending us your best plays! Remember, as long as it’s a basketball game, it’s eligible for the countdown. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to us on YouTube for more basketball gaming videos.

The Friday Five: 5 Played-Out Aspects of MyCAREER Stories

The Friday Five: 5 Played-Out Aspects of MyCAREER Stories

Welcome to another edition of The Friday Five! Every Friday I cover a topic related to basketball gaming, either as a list of five items, or a Top 5 countdown. The topics for these lists and countdowns include everything from fun facts and recollections to commentary and critique. This week’s Five is a list of five aspects of MyCAREER stories that are played-out at this point.

Honestly, I admire the ambition and creativity in some of the MyCAREER stories over the years. I can’t say that it’s prevented me from spending many enjoyable hours with the mode, and indeed, when I finally played through NBA 2K14’s tale, I had to admit that I’d been somewhat unfair towards it. However, there’s also a reason that I’ve been critical of MyCAREER featuring a cinematic narrative. Some of the tales have negatively impacted the gameplay experience, while others have just featured really bad writing and acting. Sometimes, the mode has been afflicted by both.

It’s a shame, as even when MyCAREER stories have fallen flat, it’s clear that a lot of effort has gone into them. Some prominent names have been involved with them, from filmmakers like Spike Lee to actors like Michael B Jordan. It wouldn’t be accurate to say that no one has any fond memories of MyCAREER stories, but they do tend to draw a considerable amount of scorn, especially in recent years. It’s not surprising of course, as many aspects of MyCAREER stories have become played-out over time, whether its tropes they employ, or their effects on gameplay. Either way, these five played-out aspects of MyCAREER stories have worn out their welcome.

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Wayback Wednesday: My 1996 Roster for NBA Live 2001

Wayback Wednesday: My 1996 Roster for NBA Live 2001

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! From retrospectives of basketball games and their interesting features, to republished articles and looking at NBA history through the lens of the virtual hardwood, Wednesdays at the NLSC are for going back in time. This week, I’m taking a look back at my 1996 roster for NBA Live 2001 PC.

Whenever I’ve contemplated making a retro season mod, the 1996 campaign is always the first to come to mind. The reason is simple: not only is it a memorable year in NBA history, but it’s also the season when my basketball fandom truly blossomed. Revisiting the 1996 season, whether by watching real highlights and recaps or via the virtual hardwood, always brings back such fond memories of that joyful time of fully falling in love with basketball. My nostalgia was already firmly entrenched by the early 2000s, leading me to create a 1996 roster for NBA Live 2004.

However, it wasn’t my first attempt at bringing the 1996 season into what was then a new generation of basketball games. It was also far from the first retro roster for NBA Live, as the updates for NBA Live 95 and NBA Live 96 PC had famously included rosters for earlier years as well as the current season. Looking back, it wasn’t the most complete retro project, but I still have fond memories of making the 1996 roster for NBA Live 2001. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Three Years Later, No Developments

Monday Tip-Off: Three Years Later, No Developments

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Join me as I begin the week here at the NLSC with my opinions and commentary on basketball gaming topics, as well as tales of the fun I’ve been having on the virtual hardwood. This week, I’m tipping things off with some thoughts on the lack of developments regarding NBA Live three years after EA Sports last addressed its future.

That’s right. It’s been three years since the official NBA Live Twitter posted an update on the series. The Tweet confirmed that there would be no NBA Live 20, while also stating that they were “excited by (their) progress”, having been “putting in reps on (their) console basketball games”. At the time, it sounded like they might be changing direction, or at least opting for a longer development cycle, after NBA Live 19 failed to move the needle as hoped. The series’ struggles were cause for scepticism, but the fact that they were addressing the future also invited some degree of optimism.

Three years later, with absolutely no further developments or announcements, it’s much harder to be optimistic. EA Sports’ message to NBA Live gamers three years ago acknowledged the need to get everything right and “earn (their) future”. It was an honest statement, though nothing we hadn’t heard before after previous games failed to live up to expectations. More to the point, there was also an explicit promise to provide regular updates, which obviously didn’t happen. Indeed, the only activity on the NBA Live Twitter since then has been to re-Tweet a tribute to Kobe Bryant from the main EA Sports account. So, three years later, what do we make of this?

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