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20th Anniversary of NBA Live: Exploring the NBA Live 96 Executable

Gary Payton dribbles up court in NBA Live 96

It’s time to go Easter Egg hunting in the executable file of NBA Live 96 PC! While the editor that Tim and Brien made for NBA Live 96 was sufficient for most of our needs when creating roster updates, at other times, we needed to open the exe file with a Hex Editor. Doing so allowed us to change things like the year of the previous season’s statistics (for example, from the default 94/95 to 95/96), edit team names, or watermark a patch by adding a message to the credits and copyright screens.

This was all done quite easily, as all you had to do was search for the appropriate text strings in the Hex Editor of your choice. As long as you didn’t try to make any team names longer than they already were, or touch anything that you really shouldn’t, you couldn’t really go wrong.

While poking around in the NBA96.exe file, you can find a few interesting and amusing Easter Eggs. As part of our 20th Anniversary of NBA Live celebrations, I thought it’d be fun to fire up HxD, comb through the NBA Live 96 executable file once again, and share some of my discoveries. Let’s get started!

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The Friday Five: 5 Best Features in Subpar Basketball Video Games

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! This is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to basketball video games, the real NBA or another area of interest to our community, either as a list of five items or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.

Generally speaking, when it comes to subpar basketball video games, we don’t have too many good things to say about them. However, even the worst basketball video games can sometimes boast really good features. Those features may not be enough to save the game from bad reviews and the scorn of basketball gamers, but they’re still worthy of recognition. Indeed, it’s frustrating to see such appealing features, and not be able to enjoy them because the rest of the product isn’t up to scratch.

Perhaps even more frustrating, however, is when those great features in bad games are never really followed up on, and end up being absent in future releases. In this week’s Friday Five, I’m taking a look at five of the best features in five of the most notably subpar basketball video games that I’ve played. Let’s begin.

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20th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 96 Retrospective

20th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 96 Retrospective

To mark the 20th Anniversary of NBA Live, we’re posting content for every game in the series, including retrospectives, patches, countdowns, and more. Whether you’re a long-time basketball gamer who grew up with the NBA Live series and would like to take a drip down memory lane, or you’ve only recently started playing basketball games and would like to learn a little about what they used to be like, we hope that you enjoy the 20th Anniversary of NBA Live content here on the NLSC!

NBA Live 96 on PC was the first game in the series that I actually owned – I used to regularly rent the Super Nintendo version of NBA Live 95 from the local video store – and it’s also the game that I was looking up content for when I first discovered the NLSC way back in 1997. As such, it’s fair to say that I have something of a sentimental attachment to it, and it’s one of my favourite games in the series. Beyond that, though, was the game any good? Let’s take a look back at the game that proudly proclaimed itself a “Back-to-Back Champion” on the back of its box.

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20th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live DOSBox Guide

Chicago Bulls in NBA Live 97 - 20th Anniversary of NBA Live

Over the past few days, we’ve been sharing some memories of NBA Live 95, plus a couple of fun things from the archives. But what if you want to play NBA Live 95 PC yourself? Or the PC version of NBA Live 96, or NBA Live 97 for that matter?

Doing so can be difficult in recent versions of Windows, unless you use DOSBox. And if it’s been a while since you used DOS – or if you’ve just picked up the games off eBay, and have never used DOS before – that can feel like a daunting task. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered with a new addition to our Wiki resources: a step-by-step guide to running NBA Live 95, NBA Live 96, and NBA Live 97 in DOSBox!

In case you haven’t felt inclined to dust off those old games just yet, you may want to keep that page bookmarked, as I’ll be releasing some patches for the PC versions of Live 95-97 as part of our ongoing 20th Anniversary of NBA Live celebrations. Working on them has certainly been a nostalgic experience for me, so I hope that at least a few of you will feel inclined to fire up those old games, and give the new releases a spin once they’re available.

Stay tuned for more 20th Anniversary of NBA Live content!

20th Anniversary of NBA Live: A Game of NBA Live 95, Play-By-Play

Orlando Magic vs. Houston Rockets in NBA Live 95

If you can’t catch NBA games live on TV, you might be familiar with the play-by-play live scores on NBA.com, as well as ESPN.com and Yahoo! NBA. Well, you really should look into NBA League Pass Broadband if you can, but if a subscription is too expensive, or just not feasible for whatever reason, the live scores are pretty much your best (legal) option for following along with NBA games.

Many, many years ago, there was a period in my NBA fanaticism when I didn’t have the opportunity to watch a lot of games live. My cousin, who had pay TV, recorded games for me to watch later on VHS, and I also made use of PonTel. However, when I wanted to keep up to date with a big game, I’d have to jump online – dialup Internet, no less – and fire up the live scores. Incidentally, the first game I followed along with online was Game 5 of the 1999 NBA Finals. At the time, I thought it was pretty cool, though it obviously has nothing on League Pass Broadband.

As I’ve previously mentioned, back in high school, my cousin would always come to stay with us in the holidays, and we’d spend a lot of time playing NBA Live and NBA Jam. You know, in between watching NBA videos, and trying to emulate our favourite players on my hoop in the backyard. Since we loved NBA Live 95 on PC – even though it was a few years old at that point – we were playing through a season with the Houston Rockets. We had a lot of fun with that season: as may have seen, we brought Larry Bird out of retirement, and we once held Shaquille O’Neal to just 17 points (1 point in the second half!) in a full length game.

We also documented one of the games we played, play-by-play, on audio cassette. VHS, audio cassette, dial-up Internet…be sure to look up these ancient technologies on Wikipedia kids, you’ll get a kick out of it! Anyway, we documented the entire game, and then transcribed it to post on the NBA Live Domain, which I was running at the time. For your enjoyment, and indeed, for posterity, here is the play-by-play from that game, documented in the style of the NBA.com live scores back then.

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20th Anniversary of NBA Live: Bird Flies With The Rockets in NBA Live 95

Larry Bird on the Houston Rockets in NBA Live 95

I’ve never been a big online basketball gamer, but that doesn’t mean I’ve always played them alone. Back in high school, my cousin – also a huge basketball fan and hoops gamer – would come to stay with us every school holidays. Whenever we weren’t watching basketball, or out in the backyard emulating the moves of our favourite players, we were playing basketball video games. NBA Live and NBA Jam were our titles of choice, and as the years rolled by and my collection grew, we had a few different versions of NBA Live to choose from. At one point, we started replaying the 1995 season in NBA Live 95 PC, with the Houston Rockets.

We always used to play co-op, because we preferred being on the same team and trying to win as many games as we could, together. Of course, when it’s two human users vs. the CPU, you need to find ways to keep things fresh, challenging, and interesting. In our NBA Live 95 season, we did that in the usual manner: making a few trades, aiming for certain statistical marks and records, and trying to blow out the CPU by the largest margin possible.

Oh, and Larry Bird made a comeback for our Houston Rockets, part of the way through the season.

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The Friday Five: My Top 5 Favourite NBA Live Games

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! This is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to basketball video games, the real NBA or another area of interest to our community, either as a list of five items or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.

As you may have seen, our 20th Anniversary of NBA Live celebrations are underway. We’ve got lot of fun stuff lined up, including complete retrospectives for every single game in the series, feature articles, analysis, patches, and more. As this is the first Friday Five since our 20th Anniversary content tipped off, it seems like a good time for a countdown that’s been on my list for some time now: My Top 5 Favourite Games in the NBA Live series.

Please keep in mind that these aren’t objectively the best games in the NBA Live series, though I do believe they rank up there. As part of our celebrations, I’ll also be collaborating with the rest of the NLSC Team to pick the Top 10 Games in the NBA Live series, which I believe will reflect popular opinion, not just my own preferences. As for this list however, I’m just briefly reflecting on my personal Top 5 favourite NBA Live games, sentimental picks included; again, full retrospectives will be coming for each game. With that said, let’s get to the countdown!

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20th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 95 Retrospective

20th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 95 Retrospective

To mark the 20th Anniversary of NBA Live, we’re posting content for every game in the series, including retrospectives, patches, countdowns, and more. Whether you’re a long-time basketball gamer who grew up with the NBA Live series and would like to take a drip down memory lane, or you’ve only recently started playing basketball games and would like to learn a little about what they used to be like, we hope that you enjoy the 20th Anniversary of NBA Live content here on the NLSC!

We’re tipping off our series of retrospectives with a look at the game that started it all: NBA Live 95. The game is often remembered fondly by long-time basketball gamers; beyond its significance as the first game in the NBA Live series, it’s also generally considered to be a classic. However, looking back on it twenty years later, it’s certainly fair to wonder…is that reputation justified? Just how well does NBA Live 95 hold up today? Let’s find out.

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20th Anniversary of NBA Live Content Tips Off This Week

It’s been a long time coming, and it’s arguably a year too late (though NBA Live 95 PC was actually released in 1995), but we’re finally ready to tip off our 20th Anniversary of NBA Live content here at the NLSC! Obviously, we’re still looking to the future and the NBA Live 16 coverage will keep on coming, but at the same time, we’ll be taking the opportunity to look back at 20 years of the NBA Live series.

Our content will be tipping off within the next few days, and will continue to run alongside our NBA Live 16 content, most likely through to the end of the year. We’ve got some fun stuff planned, including:

  • Retrospectives on all of the games in the NBA Live series
  • Roundtable discussions about the series’ past and future
  • A release (of some kind) for every single NBA Live on PC
  • Feature articles, analysis, and fun stuff from the archives
  • A couple of other surprises we really think you’ll enjoy

It’s going to be a lot of fun, so stay tuned!

On a related note, today marks my 14th Anniversary as the webmaster of the NLSC (or NBA Live Series Center, as was our full name at the time). On August 26th 2001, a couple of months shy of turning 17, I was entrusted to take over one of my favourite websites, and while it hasn’t always been smooth sailing, for the most part it’s been a fantastic experience. It’s something that I enjoy doing to this day, and I’m looking forward to running the site for years to come. As always, a huge thanks to everyone for your continued support!

The Friday Five: Top 5 Annoyances of Being a PAL Region Basketball Gamer

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! This is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to basketball video games, the real NBA or another area of interest to our community, either as a list of five items or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.

In the wake of the stunned silence that followed my Undertaker-like streak of Fridays with a Friday Five being broken (alright, alright, I did miss one earlier this year, too), I’m back this week with a new column! A big thanks for all the topic suggestions, there were some great ones related to basketball video games, and I’m looking forward to tackling them in upcoming Fives. To that end, I’m actually writing about one of those topics today, specifically JaoSming’s suggestion of the Top 5 hardships of being a PAL region basketball gamer…though I’ve gone with “annoyances” because, you know, first world problems and all that.

Seeing as how I run a website that covers basketball games, living in a PAL region presents a somewhat unique hardship/annoyance/challenge for me, as news often breaks while I’m asleep. As such, I can’t always report or comment on developments as quickly as I’d like. That isn’t really a common problem though, seeing as how I’m the only PAL basketball gamer who’s also the webmaster of the NLSC, so I thought I’d keep the Five a bit more relatable. With that said, here are the Top 5 Annoyances of being a PAL region basketball gamer!

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NLSC Podcast & The Friday Five Return Next Week

NLSC Logo

As you may have noticed, Arcane and I haven’t posted an episode of the NLSC Podcast for the past couple of weeks. Since a few of our listeners have asked when the next episode will be, I thought I’d post a bulletin letting everyone know that Episode #125 – another catch-up show, with all the news that’s come out in the past fortnight – will be out next Wednesday.

The main reason we haven’t recorded new shows in the past couple of weeks is that we’ve both been a bit under the weather lately (it’s Winter here in Australia, after all) and in particular, I’ve been trying to shake a nagging cough that I picked up on the plane trip home from Orlando. As you can imagine, that kind of gets in the way of recording an audio show!

Similarly, between illness, my day job, and other NLSC projects duties – including a late night covering the LIVE Pro-Am announcement and polishing up my impressions article – I’m feeling especially run down this week, and haven’t had time to write The Friday Five. So, as much as I hate missing deadlines and skipping weeks, I’m going to have to miss posting a new edition of the Five today.

In lieu of a new show and column this week, I’d like to open up the floor for any topic suggestions for Arcane and I to discuss in future Podcasts (beginning with next week’s episode), as well as anything you’d like to see me write about, or compile a Top 5 countdown for, in The Friday Five. Hit me up in the comments below or in the NLSC Forum, and I’ll make a note of any and all suggestions.

My apologies to everyone who regularly tunes in to the Podcast and reads the Five. I’m eager to deliver that content to you on a regular basis, and I really appreciate everyone’s support and interest in those features. Thanks for your understanding, and I hope you’ll tune in, and check in, next week!

The Friday Five: 5 Retro Teams We’re Unlikely To See In NBA 2K16

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! This is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to basketball video games, the real NBA or another area of interest to our community, either as a list of five items or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.

As you may have seen in this bulletin, or elsewhere on the Internet, one of the NBA 2K16 tidbits to come out of Gamescom 2015 is the inclusion of 12 new retro teams in this year’s game. To date, we know five of the new historical squads that have been added in NBA 2K16: the 2000 Portland Trail Blazers, 2000 Toronto Raptors, 2001 Los Angeles Lakers, 2003 Dallas Mavericks, and 2008 Boston Celtics. Over the next few Thursdays, we’ll be finding out the remaining seven retro teams that are yet to be announced.

I’m sure that we all have our own ideas about which teams we’d like to see make the cut, but a thought occurred to me today: What are some of the teams that we really don’t need to see join the ranks of historical squads in NBA 2K16? So, just for fun, let’s take a look at five teams from seasons gone by that we’re highly unlikely to see appear in NBA 2K16.

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The Friday Five: 5 Basketball Video Game Surprises

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! This is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to basketball video games, the real NBA or another area of interest to our community, either as a list of five items or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.

If you’re relatively new to basketball video games, or at least the basketball gaming community, you may not have much of an idea of how things used to be when it came to previews and interactions with the developers. With all the tidbits on social media, developer blogs, in-depth interviews here at the NLSC and around the web, live streams, and so on these days, we get to learn a lot about the upcoming editions of NBA Live and NBA 2K before they come out. This allows us to be well-informed, and in turn, savvy consumers.

Of course, the downside of such in-depth coverage is that some of the mystery is taken out of basketball gaming. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – with games coming out every year, we want to know whether the latest iteration is worth spending money on – but it also means that we don’t often get to be surprised by something really cool in basketball video games. Every so often though, EA Sports or 2K Sports will announce something that catches us off guard, and that’s what I’m talking about today: five times that I was surprised by basketball video games. Let’s get to the Five!

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The Friday Five: 5 Most Annoying Basketball Video Game Bugs

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! This is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to basketball video games, the real NBA or another area of interest to our community, either as a list of five items or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.

We care a great deal about our basketball games in this community, and likewise have high expectations for our basketball gaming experiences. If the controls feel off, or the animations are funky, we notice. It bothers us when the wrong players are scoring most of the points, or when superstars aren’t playing like superstars. If the simulated stats aren’t true to life, it detracts from our enjoyment. In a nutshell, if the gameplay doesn’t feel right, and an acceptable level of realism isn’t present, we’re going to grumble.

However, as with video games of any genre, what really impedes our enjoyment of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball titles is the presence of bugs. Now, some bugs are small, while other bugs render games almost completely unplayable. For the purposes of this list, I’m focusing on smaller bugs that can be worked around, or only occasionally occur, but are nevertheless annoying. There’s nothing completely gamebreaking here, but still plenty of irritation to be found. With that said, here are five of the most annoying basketball video game bugs that I have experienced.

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The Friday Five: 5 Goals I’ve Had for Ultimate Team in NBA Live 15

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! This is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to basketball video games, the real NBA or another area of interest to our community, either as a list of five items or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.

As I’ve mentioned in recent episodes of the NLSC Podcast and in last week’s Friday Five, I’ve been spending a lot of time with Ultimate Team in NBA Live 15. Although I’m traditionally more interested in modes like Dynasty, Ultimate Team definitely piqued my interest last year, and this year I’ve been hooked on building my team and playing through various Fantasy Challenges. As I also said last week, while I’m hoping to play a lot of Dynasty in NBA Live 16, I expect that I’ll continue to spend a lot of time with Ultimate Team, too.

In the meantime, Ultimate Team has definitely become my mode of choice in NBA Live 15. To that end, there are a few goals that I’ve set for myself as I continue to play the game up until the release of NBA Live 16 in September. I’ve managed to achieve a couple of them during this past week, but a couple of others…well, I still have a ways to go. For your reading pleasure this Friday, I present five goals that I’ve had for Ultimate Team in NBA Live 15.

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