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Wayback Wednesday

Wayback Wednesday: The Charlotte Bobcats in NBA Live 2004

Charlotte Bobcats in NBA Live 2004

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 presence of the Charlotte Bobcats in NBA Live 2004.

The Charlotte Bobcats are no more. Well, the team is still around, but they are now of course the new version of the Charlotte Hornets, following the purchase of the name after New Orleans became the Pelicans. It’s probably safe to say that most NBA fans, both in North Carolina and elsewhere, were happy to see the familiar branding return. The Bobcats name was often criticised, with many fans feeling that it was a poor fit for an NBA team. With the team set to celebrate its 30th Anniversary this year, it’s great to have the Hornets back in the league.

Of course, the Charlotte Bobcats era remains a part of the club’s history, too. While the official lineage of the Hornets and Pelicans has been retconned to consider the Hornets inactive from 2002 to 2004 and the Pelicans to be an expansion team that joined the league in 2002, in reality the resurrected Hornets are the league’s newest team in terms of their operations, becoming the 30th franchise as the Bobcats in 2004. They would actually make their video game debut a year earlier however, as they were included in NBA Live 2004. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Cool Facts in NBA Live 97

Cool Facts about Mitch Richmond (NBA Live 97)

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 Cool Facts in NBA Live 97.

Old basketball video games often have some interesting little features that we don’t find in more recent releases. While we can often feel nostalgic for these features, there’s usually a good reason why they don’t appear in newer games. Some of them are outdated concepts that no longer have a use today. Similarly, others are simply rendered obsolete by advances in technology, or may now take on a very different form. Nevertheless, we tend to remember those quirky old features with the same fondness as the gameplay experience itself, as well as the players of the era.

That is definitely the case with Cool Facts in NBA Live 97. Exclusive to the PC and PlayStation versions of NBA Live 97, Cool Facts were bonus content that taught us a little more about all of the players that we were playing with on the virtual hardwood. A lot of long-time NBA Live players probably remember the feature as a fun exercise while browsing through the rosters, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Gameplay Sliders in NBA Live 2004

Global Sliders in NBA Live 2004

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 gameplay sliders in NBA Live 2004.

Although basketball gamers who play sim-oriented titles are generally seeking the same kind of experience, it’s tough to please everyone. Not everyone has the same skill level, and not everyone wants to go out of their way to play a realistic style of virtual basketball. No matter how much attention is paid to the gameplay, it’s tough for developers to meet everyone’s expectations. In the early 2000s, we wanted to see an increase in realism, so that basketball games more accurately reflected what we saw on TV. The games of the era had their moments, but they still had a ways to go.

NBA Live 2003 had felt like a step in the wrong direction, with an almost arcade-like style. Although we tried to make the game more realistic through modding, we didn’t have a lot of success. NBA Live 2004 put the series back on track, not only in terms of implementing a more realistic style, but also through the introduction of gameplay sliders. These new settings allowed us to tinker with the gameplay without messing around with player ratings, in turn providing us with an opportunity to improve the experience from what was on offer out of the box. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA 2K12’s Introduction Video

NBA 2K12 Introduction Video

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 introduction video for NBA 2K12.

Although NBA 2K11 was a tough act to follow, I would suggest that NBA 2K12 was up to the challenge. Continuing to improve upon the gameplay of its predecessor, it also successfully expanded the historical content we’ve come to associate with the NBA 2K series. The Jordan Challenge gave way to NBA’s Greatest, a mode featuring fantastic production values and several of the best teams in the NBA history on top of MJ’s Bulls. The game was hampered by the absence of the Class of 2011 rookies at launch owing to the lockout, but official roster updates would later resolve that issue.

Firing up NBA 2K12 for the first time immediately got you in the mood to play with the new historical teams, with an introduction video that I once ranked as the best among basketball games. Although we’ve seen some slick intros in the years since, there’s still a strong case for NBA 2K12’s boot-up remaining in the top spot. As such, I thought I’d look back at it this week, and the real highlights that inspired several moments in the intro. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: 1-on-1 Courts in NBA Live 2003

MJ vs Kobe on the Urban Court (NBA Live 2003)

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 1-on-1 courts that were available in NBA Live 2003.

When 1-on-1 mode was implemented in NBA Live 2000, the games took place on the same urban street court that was featured in Practice mode. This approach continued through NBA Live 2002, though EA Sports changed up the aesthetic of the courts a little in each game. Come NBA Live 2003, the decision was made to have Practice mode take place within a generic gym. While merely a cosmetic change without any added functionality, it was arguably a more suitable setting, giving the impression of a player shooting around in their team’s practice facility.

However, the urban blacktop wasn’t removed from the game. It was still the default option for 1-on-1 mode, maintaining the streetball atmosphere from previous titles. It wasn’t the only place gamers could go 1-on-1 in NBA Live 2003, though. It was also possible to select the aforementioned practice gym, as well as a court located by the beach. These courts definitely spiced up 1-on-1 mode, and allowed the art team to get very creative. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: The Dunk Contest in Basketball Games

Tens in the Dunk Contest (NBA Live 2005)

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 Slam Dunk Contest in basketball video games.

The Slam Dunk Contest is the main event of All-Star Saturday Night, and with the notable exception of the 1998 All-Star Weekend, it’s been a fixture of the festivities since 1984. Although not every contest has been better than the last – and indeed, some years have been downright disappointing – it’s still provided us with many memorable examples of spectacular aerial artistry. It only stands to reason that we want to take part in the dunk contest in basketball video games, and fortunately for us, several titles over the years have afforded us that opportunity.

Implemented in a variety of ways over the years, the dunk contest has proven to be a fun mini-game to jump into whenever it’s been available to play at any time. Along with the Three-Point Shootout, it’s also deepened the franchise and career experiences by representing the most prominent events of the All-Star Weekend. The main event of the NBA’s midseason classic has an interesting history when it comes to the virtual hardwood, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA 2K9 on PC Retrospective

Kevin Garnett Dunking in NBA 2K9

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 2K9 on PC.

The fact that LeBron James is appearing in his eighth consecutive NBA Finals series hasn’t just sparked fierce debate among basketball fans in the endless Greatest of All-Time debate. It’s also a sign of how quickly the last few years have flown by, with LeBron’s tenure with the Miami Heat already becoming a distant memory. Another fact that may leave you wondering where the time has gone is the number of NBA 2K games that have come out on PC, which now stands at ten. It feels like only yesterday that the series was a newcomer to the platform, but it has indeed been a decade.

Currently the only sim-oriented title that’s still being released on PC, NBA 2K has kept basketball gaming alive on the platform. When it was announced that NBA 2K9 would be coming out on PC, it came as tremendous news for a community that had felt abandoned by EA Sports. Since we’ve had a decade of NBA 2K gaming on PC at this point, I feel it’s worth reflecting upon the game that brought the series to a new audience of basketball gamers. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Three-Point Shootout in NBA Live 98

Steve Kerr in the Three-Point Shootout (NBA Live 98)

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 three-point shootout in NBA Live 98.

I’ve already talked a little about the three-point shootout in my Wayback Wednesday feature on All-Star Weekend Mode, as well as my retrospectives of NBA Live 98 and NBA Live 2005. However, it occurred to me that I’ve yet to dedicate a feature solely to the contest, which made its debut in NBA Live 98. Although a three-point shootout had been featured in other basketball video games, the mode found in NBA Live 98 was, at the time, the best representation of the event on the virtual hardwood. As an item on the Wishlist, its addition was warmly welcomed by basketball gamers.

Despite lacking in some of the presentation and flair seen in later games, NBA Live 98’s version of the three-point shootout was still thoroughly enjoyable. A fun change of pace, the mode was certainly missed when it was removed in later games. It’s a mode that’s worthy of its own retrospective, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: X-Factor Players in NBA Live 07

X-Factor Shane Battier in NBA Live 07

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 X-Factor players in NBA Live 07.

It’s fair to say that NBA Live 07 is a standout release in the NBA Live series, albeit for the wrong reasons. The Xbox 360 version of the game is widely considered to be one of the worst basketball games ever, and the PC/PlayStation 2/Xbox version’s reputation isn’t much better. It notably experimented with three different shooting buttons, an idea that was interesting, but proved to be overkill. Looking back on it now, it wasn’t the best way of implementing advanced shooting controls. Despite the game’s struggles, however, it was trying new ideas that at least had good intentions.

An example of that would be the X-Factor players in the prior gen version of NBA Live 07. A Freestyle Superstars mechanic that tried to expand upon the concept of player differentiation, it didn’t quite catch on, though traces of the idea have been reworked more successfully in subsequent games. As such, it’s a significant step in developing more sophisticated gameplay, and one that deserves credit for paving the way to future progress. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: CustomArt in NBA Live

Hakeem Olajuwon in the 1996 Mod (NBA Live 2004)

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 CustomArt in the PC versions of NBA Live.

As I mentioned in my retrospective of NBA Live on PC, modding was a big part of what made those releases the definitive versions of the game through to around the mid 2000s. The modding scene was able to become as large and successful as it did due to EA Sports’ willingness to make the game files easier to modify. While we were never provided any official tools, changes such as the adoption of DBF files, as well as the organisation and relative consistency of the art file formats, kept the modding community productive and our Downloads database filled with great updates.

One of the most significant developments in modding was CustomArt, introduced in NBA Live 2003 PC. The feature simplified the process of installing mods, while also providing in-depth customisation options. Should NBA Live return to the PC at some point, it’s definitely a feature that it needs to have, and it would also be great to have it natively supported in NBA 2K PC as well. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live on PC Retrospective

Gilbert Arenas in NBA Live 08

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 history of NBA Live on PC.

It’s been over ten years since a PC version of NBA Live was released. For a long time, the series was the only NBA game that was consistently released on PC as well as the consoles, but beginning with NBA Live 09, it’s been a console exclusive. In hindsight, the writing was on the wall as the last couple of PC releases were problematic, not to mention ports of the previous console generation. Although the NBA 2K series would make its way to PC – the very year NBA Live left it, in fact – there is still interest in seeing EA’s game return to the platform. Unfortunately, so far our Wishlist requests and petitions have not yet yielded the desired outcome.

Hopefully, as the NBA Live series continues to rebuild and re-establish itself, we’ll see a PC release again one day. After all, through to around 2006, the PC version of NBA Live was arguably the definitive version of the game. It certainly helped put us on the map, and carve out a niche in the basketball gaming community with all of the work we put into modding the games. This week, I thought I’d reflect on the history of NBA Live on PC, in the hopes that its legacy will continue with a new release some day. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Arcade Modes in NBA Live

Arcade Mode in NBA Live 2000 featuring Shaq

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 Arcade mode settings that were once available in NBA Live.

By definition, NBA Live has always been a sim title. Granted, the level of realism hasn’t always been satisfactory, and in the case of certain releases – NBA Live 2003 in particular – the style of gameplay has skewed a little towards being arcade. However, there are several distinct features and concepts that define the arcade basketball game genre, such as exaggerated dunks, a lack of rules, and a more casual, “video game” approach to the setting and gameplay. Whatever shortcomings any NBA Live or NBA 2K title may have, they are – by design and concept – sim titles. Games like NBA Jam, NBA Street, and NBA Playgrounds, on the other hand, are arcade games.

With that being said, there have been a couple of times over the years that NBA Live has tried to cater to the desire for an arcade experience. This was achieved through the Arcade mode gameplay setting in NBA Live 99 and NBA Live 2000. The experience was still far more sim-oriented than games like NBA Jam or NBA Street, but it was still noticeably wackier and less realistic than usual. It was an interesting attempt to cater to varied tastes among basketball games, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Michael Jordan in 1-on-1

Michael Jordan in 1-on-1 (NBA Live 2000)

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 Live 2000’s Michael Jordan in 1-on-1 mode.

Today is Tim Duncan’s 42nd birthday. Not only is the future Hall of Famer one of the greatest players in NBA history, he also graced the cover of one of the best games in the NBA Live series: NBA Live 2000. Of course, he shared the cover with an insert of Michael Jordan, who made his first official appearance in the series as a member of the newly added roster of Legends. April 25th also marked a milestone in Michael Jordan’s career, as on this date twenty-five years ago he captured his seventh straight scoring title, tying a record set by Wilt Chamberlain.

With those themes in mind, it seems logical to take another look back at NBA Live 2000. I’ve already posted an in-depth retrospective of the game, but I thought that I’d take a closer look at one of its featured attractions: Michael Jordan in 1-on-1. Making its debut in NBA Live 2000, it made sense to brand the mode with Michael Jordan’s name in order to help it stand out to gamers. It certainly did just that, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Arch Rivals Retrospective

Arch Rivals 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 Arch Rivals.

When you think of arcade basketball video games by Midway, the titles that will most likely spring to mind are the original NBA Jam, its follow-up NBA Jam Tournament Edition, and NBA Hangtime. That stands to reason as they are some of the best games of their genre, but NBA Jam wasn’t actually Midway’s first attempt at making a foray onto the virtual hardwood. In 1989, four years before the debut of the original NBA Jam, Midway released Arch Rivals: a two-on-two basketball game with up-tempo gameplay, and a very casual approach to the rules of the sport.

Although not an official part of the NBA Jam lineage, Arch Rivals can certainly be considered a forerunner to Midway’s more famous hoops game. Indeed, while NBA Jam is usually (and rightfully) credited as defining many of the aspects which we’ve come to associate with the genre of arcade basketball games, Arch Rivals is arguably the game that pioneered them. After all, while relatively subdued compared to the games that followed, Arch Rivals stands as their obvious inspiration. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: The NBA Live 96 Editor

NBA Live 96 Editor

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking a look back at the NBA Live 96 Editor for Windows, also known as WNBA-Ed.

Although obviously far surpassed by its successors, NBA Live 96 is still one of my all-time favourite games in the NBA Live series. It was the first NBA Live title that I owned on PC, having played NBA Live 95 on the Super Nintendo (although I would later pick up the PC version of NBA Live 95 as well). It’s also the game that led me to discover the NLSC when my family finally got connected to the Internet, and in turn, the hobby of modding (usually called patching at the time). As such, in addition to the fun I had with the game, it’s a sentimental favourite because of its connection to my history in discovering and joining the online basketball gaming community.

The hard work of Tim, Lutz, and Brien had made it possible to mod NBA Live 95, but as I discussed in a previous article, the process could be quite fiddly, even with the tools that they created. When it came time to develop tools for NBA Live 96, they made some advances that greatly simplified the process, which delighted my teenage self and set me on a path to join the original NLSC trio and many others in the hobby of patching. One of the key tools that I soon became very familiar with was Tim’s NBA Live 96 Editor. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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