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NLSC Podcast #300: Hunters & Collectors

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Episode #300 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Join Dee4Three and myself as we mark the 300th episode of the NLSC Podcast with a conversation about some recent controversies in the community, the thought-terminating cliches that bother us, Basketball Classics, and the joy of collecting basketball video games, new and old.

As we celebrate 300 episodes, we reflect on one of our favourite shows: our interview with Tim Kitzrow back in Episode #280. Recalling his passion for NBA Jam, we’re reminded of how it’s too easy to be dismissive of what came before as pure nostalgia – on the real and virtual hardwood alike – and resort to cliched buzzwords to shut down criticism of newer things. That leads us to note the fantastic fusion of the old and new with Basketball Classics, as we share some more impressions of the game. After touching on the recent hack of NBA 2K accounts and issues with ad links in our modding community, we finally get to our featured discussion topic: collecting basketball video games. We talk about our collections, the process of tracking down older titles, the problems that digital content and releases present for collectors, and the fun of playing our old favourites and checking out games we missed out on the first time around.

Tune in below!

What are your thoughts on the recent controversies? Do you consider yourself a collector of basketball video games? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as suggestions for topics that you’d like to hear us discuss in future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki.

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Wayback Wednesday: The Original NBA Jam

NBA Jam Arcade 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 the original NBA Jam with an overdue retrospective.

It occurred to me that although I’ve been running these Wayback Wednesday features since 2015, I’ve yet to cover the original NBA Jam, released by Midway in 1993. I’ve talked a lot about its sequel, NBA Jam Tournament Edition, and even covered its spiritual predecessor, Arch Rivals, but I haven’t profiled the famous game that tipped off an iconic series (and indeed, an entire subgenre of basketball gaming). That’s partly because NBA Jam TE is one of my all-time favourite games, but it’s about time that I fill in the gaps and talk about the original.

As an undisputed classic, it’s difficult to say anything about NBA Jam that someone else hasn’t already said. However, it’s too fun, too amazing, and simply too important in the history of basketball gaming for me not to discuss it in a Wayback Wednesday feature. It brought us Fire, shattered backboards, and the legendary commentary of Tim Kitzrow…it’s NBA Jam! Let’s take a look back…way back…

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NLSC Podcast #280: Tim Kitzrow, Voice of NBA Jam

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Episode #280 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Dare I say it, this week’s episode is ON FIRE, as I had an opportunity to chat with the legendary voice of NBA Jam himself, Tim Kitzrow! It was a lot of fun talking to Tim, who was very generous with his time and stories. Be sure to follow Tim on Twitter, and hit up Who Said What Now to order your own custom audio messages from the Baron of Boomshakalaka!

The voice of NBA Jam, Tim Kitzrow, joins the NLSC Podcast this week for an extended interview. Tim provides an insight into how he went from classically trained actor and improv artist with The Second City in Chicago, to being the voice of one of basketball gaming’s most iconic series. From the origins of the word Boomshakalaka and fascinating tidbits about NBA Jam and other games Tim has worked on, to Tim’s recent projects and a bunch of other fun stories, this week’s show is a must-listen for all NBA Jam enthusiasts!

Tune in below!

I hope you enjoyed my interview with Tim Kitzrow! Sound off with your thoughts on the NBA Jam series in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as suggestions for topics that you’d like to hear us discuss in future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki.

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Monday Tip-Off: Time to Light the Fire on a New NBA Jam

A roster update added Kyrie Irving to NBA Jam: On Fire Edition

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 why it’s time EA Sports brought out another NBA Jam game.

Although I’m a long-time fan of sim-oriented basketball games, I’m also a big fan of NBA Jam from back in the day. It’s something that I’ve mentioned several times on the NLSC Podcast, and it’s likely quite evident from all the times that I’ve covered a topic related to NBA Jam in Wayback Wednesday features. When the possibility of a brand new entry in the series was seemingly hinted at earlier in the year, I compiled a list of things that I believe a new NBA Jam game should have. As much as a new NBA Street game would be great to have, I’m still partial to seeing another Jam title.

Not only do I believe there is still a market for the game, but it feels like the time is ripe to bring back NBA Jam. The success of the original NBA Playgrounds last year has rejuvenated interest in the genre, though it arguably never went out of vogue in the first place. More importantly, we now know that its sequel – freshly renamed NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 – will be published by 2K Sports. With NBA Playgrounds joining the “2K family“, I’d love to see EA Sports resurrect the classic arcade property that it owns the rights to. With 2K going all in on an arcade hoops title in addition to their long-running sim game, it’s time for EA to light the fire on a new NBA Jam.

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Wayback Wednesday: College Slam

College Slam 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 College Slam.

College Slam is a 1996 title that a lot of basketball gamers may not remember, if indeed they’ve ever heard of it. I personally wasn’t aware of it until years later, since as is the case with all college basketball video games, it wasn’t available in PAL regions. Essentially an NCAA version of NBA Jam, it was developed by Iguana Entertainment and published by Acclaim, the companies who brought NBA Jam to home consoles and PC. Unlike NBA Jam, it wasn’t released in arcades, and never achieved the same level of popularity, largely due to its more limited release.

In many ways, College Slam is a re-skin of NBA Jam with NCAA licensing, but that is selling the game a little short. It did introduce a few new features that set it apart from its NBA licensed predecessor, and make it an interesting game to revisit. If the 2003 release from Acclaim is the forgotten NBA Jam, then College Slam is surely the forgotten spin-off. It’s another game worth remembering however, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: The Forgotten NBA Jam

NBA Jam 2004 Pre-Game

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 Jam; not the original, not the 2010 reboot, but the 2003 release for PlayStation 2 and Xbox.

With NBA Jam celebrating its 25th Anniversary, there’s been even more nostalgia than usual surrounding the classic series of basketball video games. For long-time basketball gamers, and for those who know their gaming history, the lineage of the series is well known. NBA Jam and NBA Jam Tournament Edition are hailed as classics, and rightfully so. NBA Hangtime – Midway’s follow-up after Acclaim won the rights to the Jam name – is also a great game. Acclaim’s titles, from Extreme to the sim-oriented releases, were generally lacklustre. The series was revived by EA Sports, with the 2010 reboot and subsequent On Fire Edition being quite successful.

Midway also produced spiritual successors in the form of NBA Showtime: NBA on NBC, and NBA Hoopz. However, between the five-on-five titles and the reboot by EA Sports, Acclaim released a game simply titled NBA Jam (identified as NBA Jam 2004 by the disc’s digital label), which aimed to return to the series’ roots of over-the-top arcade gameplay. It’s become somewhat of a forgotten release, overshadowed by other titles that bear the NBA Jam name, but it has its good points and deserves a second look. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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NLSC Podcast – Episode #233

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Episode #233 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! It’s kind of an experimental episode this week as I’m actually hosting solo, as Arcane and Kenny unfortunately weren’t available to record. So, join me as I share my thoughts on some recent basketball gaming topics, including the latest NBA Live 18 patch, an interesting Reddit post regarding NBA 2K18, and more.

On this week’s show…

  • We’ve tipped off our Wishlist topics for NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19. Get your constructive feedback in ASAP, so that we can send it along to the development teams at EA Sports and Visual Concepts!
  • Patch 1.10 has been released for NBA Live 18. It’s mostly a bug and stability fix, though that’s still most welcome a few months into a game’s life cycle.
  • A Reddit post from a former EVE Online developer has highlighted some of the problems in NBA 2K18’s approach to player retention. Will 2K take note of these concerning issues?
  • Following up on last week’s discussion of a new NBA Jam game, it doesn’t sound like a new title is all that close after all. However, there’s hopefully still cause for optimism.
  • My Week in Basketball Gaming included dusting off NBA Playgrounds, and a great pull from a Legends pack in NBA Live 18 Ultimate Team. Also, some modding talk.
  • Episode #233 of the NLSC Podcast wraps up with some thoughts on the 2018 All-Star starters. Fingers crossed this year’s game turns out better than it has over the past few seasons.

Click Play to listen to the show!

Have some thoughts on the latest episode? Got a mailbag question or topic suggestion for the next show? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki.

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Wayback Wednesday: Favourite Secret Characters in NBA Jam

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 few of my favourite secret characters in classic NBA Jam games.

January 14th marked the 25th Anniversary of NBA Jam, the game that truly set the tone in terms of the arcade basketball experience. In addition to celebrating its silver anniversary, NBA Jam has also been in the news as of late due to the possibility of a brand new game being released. Additionally, in a recent interview with Shack News, Tim Kitzrow confirmed that creator Mark Turmell still has the rare version of the game that includes Michael Jordan and Gary Payton. While there are several legal roadblocks that must be cleared, Turmell is investigating the possibility of releasing that rare treasure in celebration of the game’s anniversary.

As a long-time fan of the series, I’d love to see a new NBA Jam game, as well as the release of the rare version of the original featuring MJ and The Glove. It’s a situation we’ll keep an eye on, but in the meantime, it’s always fun to look back at the games that have already been released. I’ve posted a couple of retrospectives on NBA Jam Tournament Edition in previous Wayback Wednesday features, so this time I wanted to focus on a specific element of the original games: their secret characters. They’re arguably as iconic as the high flying dunks, being on fire, and “Boomshakalaka!”, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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NLSC Podcast – Episode #232

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Episode #232 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Join Arcane and I as we discuss some promising news regarding NBA Jam, the appeal of playing and modding old games, our past week in basketball gaming, and recent events in the real NBA.

On this week’s show…

  • Legendary NBA Jam announcer Tim Kitzrow posted a Tweet suggesting that a new NBA Jam game might be on the horizon. With the game celebrating its 25th Anniversary, a rare version may also be made available (licensing issues permitting).
  • If there is a new NBA Jam game, what features and improvements would we like to see?
  • When it comes to video games, it’s fun to revisit old favourites. It’s something many of us have done from time to time, but what is the appeal of playing – and indeed, modding – old basketball games?
  • Our Week in Basketball Gaming has been all about NBA Live 18, from LIVE Events and The League to Ultimate Team. We also talk about whether we need a bit of an extended break from NBA 2K18.
  • We wrap up Episode #232 of the NLSC Podcast with some NBA chatter, including the Cleveland Cavaliers’ recent struggles, some thoughts on a few other teams, and the latest All-Star voting results.

Click Play to listen to the show!

Have some thoughts on the latest episode? Got a mailbag question or topic suggestion for the next show? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki.

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The Friday Five: 5 Things a New NBA Jam Needs to Have

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 things that a new NBA Jam game needs to have.

Tim Kitzrow’s Tweet confirming that a deal for a new NBA Jam is “in the works” comes as promising news for those of us who love the long-running arcade basketball game series. While we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves until a new game is officially announced, it’s good to hear that EA Sports apparently has interest in making further use of the trademark. The 2010 reboot was a solid and somewhat underrated game, maligned due to its association with NBA Elite 11. On Fire Edition meanwhile was one of the best, if not the best, arcade hoops titles released to date.

It’s been over six years since OFE came out though, and while it was nice to get a new arcade game in the form of Saber Interactive’s NBA Playgrounds, we need a Jam for the current generation. Hopefully a deal will get done and a new game will be in the pipeline, but if that happens, there are a few things it will need to have. The downside of NBA Playgrounds is that it’s light on features, and in some respects, old school in a way that doesn’t hold up. A new NBA Jam game needs to avoid those shortcomings, as well as some problems that have presented themselves over the course of its own lineage. Here are a few suggestions on how that could be achieved.

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New NBA Jam Game Coming in the Not Too Distant Future?

NBA Jam: On Fire Edition: Knicks vs Raptors

As reported by Operation Sports, it seems that we might be seeing a new NBA Jam game at some point in the not too distant future. Responding to a question on Twitter, the game’s legendary announcer, Tim Kitzrow, mentioned that a deal is “in the works”.

While this is by no means confirmation that a new NBA Jam is coming out – in 2018 or otherwise – it’s certainly promising news. If nothing else, it sounds as though EA Sports does have some interest in developing another NBA Jam title. With the 2010 reboot being a solid game, and On Fire Edition being one of the best arcade basketball games to date, I for one would welcome a new instalment for the current generation.

We’ll be sure to post further details if and when an official announcement is made. In the meantime, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below, as well as join in the discussion here in the NLSC Forum.

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Wayback Wednesday: Revisiting NBA Jam Tournament Edition

Alonzo Mourning in NBA Jam Tournament Edition

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 another look back at one of my favourite arcade basketball games, NBA Jam Tournament Edition.

When you talk about titles that older basketball gamers are nostalgic for, NBA Jam will invariably be one of the most popular games to come up. It basically set the standard for what came to be known as arcade basketball games, with its over-the-top, high-flying dunks, relaxed approach to the rules of the sport, and simple gameplay. The original NBA Jam was a hit in arcades and with its home ports, appealing to basketball enthusiasts and more casual fans alike. It’s since spawned sequels, spiritual successors, and more than a couple of imitators with varying degrees of quality.

The original game is considered a classic and for good reason, but personally, I’ve always preferred its sequel, NBA Jam Tournament Edition. It’s a game I looked back at in the second ever Wayback Wednesday feature, around this time two years ago. Back then, I provided a few off-the-cuff thoughts on the game over some footage I’d been sitting on for a few years. I enjoyed doing that and it was a fun way to start getting into creating some video content, but I’ve always wanted to revisit NBA Jam Tournament Edition with a more fleshed out retrospective. That’s what I’m doing today, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 More Random Basketball Game Facts

The Friday Five

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

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

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

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The Friday Five: Best Arcade Basketball Game of Each Generation

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.

Since I offered up my picks for the five best sim basketball games of their generation in last week’s Friday Five, this week I thought I’d focus on the arcade games. While there are sim heads who won’t touch arcade basketball games, and conversely more casual sports gamers who greatly prefer them to the sim titles, there are a lot of people who have a healthy appreciation for both styles. I definitely count myself as someone who has enjoyed both types of basketball games over the years, and as such, I have my own picks for the best arcade hoops title in five distinct generations/eras.

As with last week’s list, I’ll emphasise that these picks are only my opinion, and it’s not my intention to present them as infallible, definitive, or indisputable. I’d like to think that I have an informed and reasonable take on the subject, of course, but lists like this are intended to start the discussion, not end it. I’m certainly interested to see if some of you have a different take, and if so, what your picks are. With that being said, let’s once again tip things off with the basketball video games of the 16-Bit era and earlier, and take it right through until the current generation.

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The Friday Five: 5 Things Old School Basketball Gamers Did

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.

I’ve been playing basketball video games for a long time now, and I know that I’m far from the only person in our community with a long history on the virtual hardwood. If you go back a long way with basketball video games, chances are you have a healthy appreciation for how far they’ve come, while also harbouring a certain amount of nostalgia for the more primitive games from yesteryear. You probably remember many of their quirks, some of which you may miss, whereas others will definitely leave you feeling very grateful that they’re no longer an issue.

Of course, we gamers have plenty of quirks of our own, whether it’s some kind of superstitious ritual with the controls (“Yeah, tapping the button at that time totally works!”), or just something we do because it’s kind of fun, such as timing movements with the soundtrack. When it comes to basketball games, there are also certain things that we old school gamers did that probably seem a bit strange and amusing to younger gamers, because technology is so much better now. Just for fun, I thought I’d make a list of some of those quirky rituals and old fashioned activities that it seems many of us old school basketball gamers indulged in at one time or another.

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