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The Friday Five

The Friday Five: 5 90s Classics That Needed Today’s Official Updates

The Friday Five: 5 90s Classics That Needed Today's Official Updates

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 90s classics that needed the official updates that today’s basketball games receive.

Official updates for basketball video games are something we’re both wary of, and take for granted. After all, they can break aspects of a game while trying to fix others, and leave a title in a worse state than it was before. On the bright side, over the years we’ve seen official updates make fixes that would’ve once had to wait until the next game came out. For all the controversy that comes with day one patches, they have had their benefits. This wasn’t possible before consoles had hard drives, and even PC patches were rare and small back in the day. Many 90s classics stand as proof of this.

The fact that I’m referring to these basketball games as 90s classics should indicate that I still think very highly of them. Even without official updates, these were some of the best hoops titles of the decade, and still have replay value today. However, whether it’s a quality-of-life fix, a gameplay tweak, or updated rosters, these games definitely would’ve benefited from the official updates that are now commonplace. Obviously, the modding community was able to step up in some cases, but there are some fixes that only the developers can make. Again, it’s not my intention to dump on these 90s classics, but as far as receiving useful fixes, they sadly came along too early.

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The Friday Five: 5 Players Who Only Appeared on Certain Teams in Games (Part 8)

The Friday Five: 5 Players Who Only Appeared on Certain Teams in Games (Part 8)

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 8 in an ongoing series looking at players that only appeared on certain teams in video games.

Just when I thought I’d finished this series with Part 7 last year, I was presented with a bunch of names making it clear that some further articles were in order! Shout out to David L for his memory and research on the topic, as he provided a vast majority of the examples that I’ll be discussing in the articles to come. There are some significant names and other well-known players that I overlooked in the previous instalments, and once they were pointed out, I knew I’d have to follow up on them. Other players aren’t as famous, but hardcore basketball fans and gamers will no doubt recall them.

As I’ve said before, players end up only appearing on certain teams in games for very familiar reasons. Before official updates were common, the default rosters remained a snapshot of some point during the offseason. If a player ended up being cut or traded after the roster cut-off date, the game would preserve a stint that never came to be in real life. Similarly, a player might have remained on a team’s roster beyond the game’s launch, but still didn’t ever play for them before they parted ways. And of course, official roster updates also sometimes reflect these stints. Whatever the case may be, they’ve left us with some interesting NBA and roster trivia in a variety of games.

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The Friday Five: 5 Features NBA Live & NBA 2K Didn’t Originate

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 lists five features that didn’t originate in NBA Live or NBA 2K.

From the mid 90s through to today, NBA Live and NBA 2K are the two biggest names as far as sim basketball games are concerned. Obviously NBA Jam and NBA Street were the top dogs in the arcade space, and there have been other series of sim titles that have produced quality releases. However, when we’re talking about the brand leader in NBA licensed sim titles, it’s been NBA Live and NBA 2K for more than a quarter of a century, with the latter taking the crown from the former during the 2000s. Of course, it hasn’t been a competition for quite some time.

Nevertheless, being the two biggest names/brand leaders in sim basketball games has meant that many of the innovations in the genre did originate with either NBA Live or NBA 2K. To that end, they’ve ended up borrowing ideas from each other, which as I’ve long maintained is actually a good thing when it comes to features that should be staples of a sim game. Of course, there are also some great features that we take for granted that didn’t originate in NBA Live or NBA 2K. Some of them are older than we think, appearing in one of their predecessors, while other times it was one of their contemporaries that beat them to the punch. Either way, another game did it first.

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The Friday Five: 5 Things I Randomly Discovered Years Later

The Friday Five: 5 Things I Randomly Discovered Years Later

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 things that I quite randomly discovered in basketball games, several years after they were released.

The internet has made it difficult to keep secrets and spoilers hidden, though it does also facilitate the quick spread of misinformation. When it comes to video game secrets, it’s all too easy for someone to post a fake code, Photoshop a hoax, or try to pass off a mod as original content. At the same time, it’s easy for others to debunk hoaxes and urban legends, as well as keep others informed about factual aspects of various games. From strategies and functionality to hidden content and modding tutorials, a plethora of information is out there.

Obviously, someone has to discover secrets and techniques, and it’s always fun when you’re the one to stumble on them. Back in the day, I remember accidentally finding the Cheats menu in Donkey Kong Country 2, and actually looking forward to going to school on Monday so that I could tell my friends about it! No doubt that information was already out there somewhere, but my friends and I didn’t know about it until then. Over the years, I’ve randomly discovered things in basketball games, completely by accident or chance, and long after they were released. Indeed, it’s one of the reasons that I enjoy revisiting old games, because you never know what you’ve overlooked.

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The Friday Five: 5 Activities to Freshen Up Your Gaming

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 suggests five activities to help you freshen up your basketball gaming experiences.

I’m the last person who’ll scold you about stubbornly sticking with what you like. I’m absolutely a creature of habit, prone to returning to my old favourites rather than try something new. And hey, as long as you’re having fun, that’s the most important part of all recreational activities! There’s a reason I go on those long kicks such as playing through multiple seasons in NBA 2K14 MyCAREER, assembling makeshift retro teams in NBA Live 10, or going back to my NBA Live 06 Dynasty if I’m not feeling the latest game. Indeed, it’s why I’ve stuck with franchise and career modes for years.

Of course, it’s nice to change things up when you’re weary of what you’re playing. This is why I advocate for a variety of deep modes in basketball games, and if they’re there, giving them a look whenever you’re getting bored. However, if you’re looking for a change of pace without diving into a whole new mode, there are many activities that you can do in basketball games that are, at the very least, fun palate cleansers. If you enjoy them, then you may want to make them a regular part of your basketball gaming, combining them with a mode if possible. Otherwise, these activities are ideas to keep in mind if you’re in a rut, and want to mess around on the virtual hardwood.

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The Friday Five: 5 Best Additions to NBA MyCAREER

The Friday Five: 5 Best Additions to NBA MyCAREER

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 the five best additions to NBA MyCAREER.

These days, it’s not fashionable to play NBA MyCAREER. It’s usually seen as a means to an end; a way of familiarising yourself with the mechanics, and grinding for VC and Badge XP to level up your player in preparation for the online scene. This is unfortunate, as MyCAREER once provided an extremely enjoyable alternative to franchise play, placing gamers in the shoes of an aspiring NBA player. Sure, the story-driven approach has been hit and miss, but some of the better tales were well-told, with impressive production values and fun mini-games.

Those aspects are still there as of NBA 2K23, though there’s been a detrimental shift in focus. The downfall began last generation, and swiftly progressed following the introduction of The Neighborhood and later The City. Still, NBA MyCAREER does remain a fairly robust mode; at least until the servers are shut down and it disappears forever! Reflecting on the history of NBA MyCAREER and the days when it was more than just a legacy mode that most use as a stepping stone to the online scene, there have been some great additions that benefitted the traditional career experience. Having played the mode extensively over the years, I’m picking these as the five best.

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The Friday Five: 5 Retro Gaming Technical Frustrations

The Friday Five: 5 Retro Gaming Technical Frustrations

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 technical frustrations that one might encounter when retro gaming.

I love retro gaming! As I’ve said before, when I think back, I was probably born to be a retro gamer. The first console I ever played was one that came out before I was even born, and part of the 1983 video game crash. It’s not that I don’t enjoy playing new games and all the technological advances the medium has made, but my early forays into gaming have undoubtedly influenced my ability to overlook dated aspects if I still enjoy the gameplay. Some games hold up better than others – especially basketball and other sports titles – but bottom line, I can still have a blast with the classics.

Of course, over the years, that hasn’t always been easy to do. This is particularly true of older PC basketball games following upgrades to a new system. At the end of the day, retro gaming (basketball or otherwise) is still something of a niche interest within the hobby, with technical frustrations arising because it’s not kept in mind when new hardware and operating systems are being developed. Fortunately, there are usually workarounds, though they can be intimidating if you’re not technically savvy. I’ve been able to find ways to get all of my old games running for my retro gaming and content creation purposes, but there have definitely been some technical frustrations.

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The Friday Five: 5 Modding Pipe Dreams

The Friday Five: 5 Modding Pipe Dreams

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 modding pipe dreams.

Even though I haven’t been regularly modding for about a decade now – and to that point, does time ever fly! – I can’t help brainstorming ideas for projects. Maybe I’m looking for the one that will inspire me to get back into the hobby on a more regular basis. Maybe I like the idea of getting back into modding more than making the necessary commitment to a large project, especially after experiencing such burnout after all those years of working on roster updates for NBA Live PC. If nothing else though, I enjoy sharing those ideas, in case it inspires someone else to explore them.

For all the wonderful mods that have been made over the years, there are a few ideas that we haven’t fully explored. There are some games that didn’t receive as many releases, mostly because the necessary tools came later in their release cycle when everyone was ready to move on. Some ideas just weren’t possible at the time, but may be worth revisiting now that we have better tools and more knowledge. And of course, there are the modding ideas that remained pipe dreams because they were simply too ambitious or time-consuming, but could still happen if the interest and dedication is there. As such, I’m throwing out five more ideas for the community’s consideration.

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The Friday Five: 5 Weird Outcomes in Franchise & Career Games

The Friday Five: 5 Weird Outcomes in Franchise & Career Games

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 reflecting on five weird outcomes in my various franchise and career games over the years.

There are many ways to play franchise modes in basketball video games. I’ve always preferred a more straightforward approach: take control of a team with current rosters, leave injuries and CPU trades on (assuming they’re optional), and play through the season to create my own reality. While this may be more conventional than a fantasy draft or using a heavily customised roster, it’s not immune to weird outcomes. Sim engines are prone to producing unexpected results, from season standings and Playoff outcomes to weird league leaders. Obviously, this happens in career modes as well.

Of course, when we’re talking about realism and weird outcomes with sim engines, it isn’t easy to define what that actually means. Results and player movement may not reflect reality, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re unrealistic in nature. In real life, we do see puzzling trades, bewildering awards and All-Star snubs, and teams that are surprisingly better or worse than expected. Some outcomes are unlikely, but weird things do happen practically every year in the NBA. With that being said, sim engines do produce some illogical and weird outcomes that are unrealistic and highly unlikely given the circumstances. Here are five examples that I’ve encountered.

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The Friday Five: 5 Roster Oddities in Basketball Games (Part 2)

The Friday Five: 5 Roster Oddities in Basketball Games (Part 2)

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 more roster oddities in various basketball games.

I’m always trying to brainstorm interesting ideas for my weekly features, and while that’s obviously a good idea, the downside is that as new topics come to mind, others get pushed aside. This is a follow-up to a Friday Five that I published way back in 2017, and considering how many other sequel articles I’ve written since then, it’s definitely overdue! On the plus side, letting the topic breathe (and then some) has allowed me to revisit other games, and discover examples that I might not have thought of had I written Part 2 closer to Part 1!

With that being said…roster oddities! There have been a number of interesting and quirky ones over the years, sometimes due to oversight, other times due to a game’s rosters capturing a very specific moment in time. In the first instalment, I covered Clyde Drexler coming off the bench in NBA Live 95 PC, oddities with M. Williams in NBA Live 09 PS2’s rosters, Brad Daugherty’s extended NBA career on the virtual hardwood, Kobe Bryant’s premature prominence in the first NBA Courtside, and the weirdness of roster editing functionality in NBA Full Court Press. In that same vein, here are five more examples of roster oddities that you may or may not remember.

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The Friday Five: 5 Reasons to Play Older Basketball Games

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 reasons to play older basketball games instead of, or in addition to, their newer counterparts.

Nostalgia gets a bad rap these days. I can understand why, as I’m sure it’s frustrating for younger people to keep hearing about everything being better back in the day (you have no idea how old I feel when I say that). Of course, films, shows, and yes, video games of yesteryear, weren’t perfect. With video games in particular, technological advancements have resulted in significant improvements since the early days of the medium. Unfortunately, that’s also brought recurrent revenue opportunities that interfere with design, prioritising earning power over gamer enjoyment.

There are plenty of reasons, and certainly a ton of pressure, to move on and play the latest NBA 2K. In the best case scenario, a new release is another worthy addition to the series, and one that will keep you entertained for the next year. Unfortunately, when it comes to annual sim basketball games, not every release is better than the last. That streak was broken a long time ago for NBA 2K, and even earlier with NBA Live before that. It’s just the way it goes. A new idea or change in engine doesn’t pan out, or a game is tainted by aggressive microtransactions. You may be left wishing you were playing an old favourite, and why not? Here are five reasons to play older titles.

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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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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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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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The Friday Five: 5 More Creepy Moments in Basketball Games

The Friday Five: 5 More Creepy Moments in Basketball Games

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 more creepy moments in various basketball video games.

Last year, I finally got around to a Friday Five topic that I’d been considering for some time: creepy moments in basketball games. It felt like an appropriate topic for an article coming out around Halloween, and although that spooktacular holiday is next Monday, I thought I’d get us in the mood early rather than repurpose it for the Tip-Off. There are a couple of examples I forgot about when writing the previous Five, and upon further reflection, a few more came to mind. On top of that, I’d suggest that producing a sequel pays fitting tribute to many horror franchises!

As I said in my previous article, creepiness and horror aren’t usually the hallmarks of basketball video games. It’s not in the spirit of the genre to be creepy and frightening, but there are nevertheless moments on the virtual hardwood that make us jump. Once again, they’re generally unintentional, being the results of glitches or perhaps strange design choices. However, this time there is one example that is definitely deliberate, and while it likely didn’t cause any nightmares, it’s fitting for Halloween. To borrow the tag line of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series: reader beware, you’re in for a scare! Well, perhaps not, but these are some unusually creepy moments in virtual hoops.

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