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Wayback Wednesday

Wayback Wednesday: Ultimate Team in NBA Live 14

NBA Live Ultimate Team Logo (NBA Live 14)

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 Ultimate Team in NBA Live 14.

The concept of Ultimate Team actually originated in EA Sports’ UEFA Champions League 2006-2007, released for the Xbox 360. It didn’t debut in the FIFA series until FIFA 09, launching in March 2009 as paid downloadable content. Other games in the EA Sports lineup began adopting their own versions of Ultimate Team, with Madden adding the mode as free DLC for Madden 10 in January 2010, and NHL 11 including it at launch. It has since become a staple game mode in EA Sports games, alongside the various franchise and career experiences.

However, with the NBA Live series being derailed by the attempted revamping and rebranding with NBA Elite 11, it wouldn’t be until the release of NBA Live 14 that we finally saw Live Ultimate Team. It was reasonably solid upon its debut, and while it hasn’t been greatly expanded upon in subsequent games, it remains a mode with a lot of potential. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Bonus Teams in NBA 2K

Michael Jordan on Team Jordan in NBA 2K11

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 bonus teams in NBA 2K over the years.

A couple of weeks ago, I took a look back at the bonus teams that were featured in older NBA Live games. While NBA 2K has become better known for providing basketball gamers with a wide selection of historical squads, it has also featured a variety of bonus teams from Decade All-Stars and developer teams to sports brand and Draft Class squads. While some of them certainly were not essential, they did inject a little extra fun into the game. As with the bonus teams in NBA Live, they provided a means of shaking things up with an enjoyable change of pace.

These bonus teams may now be overshadowed by a bevy of historical content in the form of retro and All-Time squads, but they’re still an important part of NBA 2K’s history of going above and beyond the bare minimum of including all the current NBA teams. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Jam TE PC No Points Challenge

Alonzo Mourning dunks in NBA Jam Tournament Edition PC

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 on a retro basketball gaming challenge with the PC version of NBA Jam Tournament Edition.

It’s been far too long since I made a video feature, despite my intention to produce more video content this year. Better late than never though, as I had a fun idea for this week’s Wayback Wednesday. Whenever I played NBA Jam Tournament Edition solo back in the day, I tended to play with Tag Mode off, and scored most of the team’s points with the player I was controlling. However, playing point guard for our Pro-Am squad in NBA 2K has given me a taste for racking up assists, which left me to wonder: can I win a game of NBA Jam TE with my CPU teammate scoring all of our points?

I fired up my old favourite, and gave the No Points Challenge a shot. Let’s take a look back…way back…

Catch it here on our YouTube channel if you can’t see the embedded video, and while you’re there, be sure to subscribe! With any luck, I’ll be able to produce some more videos in the not too distant future. I’ll probably also look to upload some excerpts from the NLSC Podcast – which will also be returning soon – so stay tuned for that. I may also tackle some other retro basketball gaming challenges for future Wayback Wednesday features, so if you have any suggestions in that regard, feel free to post them in the comments below!

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Wayback Wednesday: Bonus Teams in NBA Live

RBK Bonus Teams in NBA Live 06

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 bonus teams that have been featured in various NBA Live games.

In the years following Lakers vs Celtics, it was a big deal when NBA games finally included the entire league. Once that became standard, we eventually reached a point where some sort of additional content was expected. NBA 2K has set the bar here with its historical teams, but there was a time when EA’s series was also going above and beyond simply featuring the current NBA rosters. These efforts include the Decade All-Star teams, which I talked about last week, as well as the FIBA squads that would be added in later NBA Live games.

Those weren’t the only playable squads outside of the NBA teams, though. I discussed the unlockable developer teams in a previous Wayback Wednesday, but in the years that followed that era, NBA Live featured a number of other bonus teams. While they weren’t necessarily as unique as the developer teams, or as exciting as the Decade All-Stars and FIBA squads, they were still noteworthy additions to NBA Live’s rosters. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Decade All-Stars in NBA Live

Michael Jordan Dunk (Decade All-Stars, 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 Decade All-Stars in older NBA Live games.

I’ve mentioned the Decade All-Stars in several previous articles, including my first look back at Legends in Wayback Wednesday, my NBA Live 2000 retrospective, and as an example of content that I’d like to see return. However, apart from a profile of the 50s All-Stars on the anniversary of the BAA-NBL merger to form the NBA in 1949, I haven’t yet dedicated an entire feature to talking about those squads. Given how popular they were, and how much I personally enjoyed having them, it’s time to rectify that with a long overdue retrospective.

A lot of older basketball gamers who played NBA Live back in the day no doubt remember the Decade All-Stars quite fondly. It’s interesting that many of us do feel nostalgic for them now, considering how they were the original attempt to capitalise on nostalgia in basketball video games. For those who remember them, and for those who don’t know what all the fuss is about, let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: BIG Moments in NBA Live 14

BIG Moments: A Win is a Win (NBA Live 14)

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 BIG Moments, which debuted in NBA Live 14.

Since I covered NBA 2K17’s College DLC last week, I’d say it isn’t too soon to go back to the beginning of the current generation of NBA Live this time. It’s been a long time since EA Sports’ game was the premiere NBA sim, and this generation has once again seen the game rebuilding over the course of a few years, as it’s fought to regain its share of the market. The process has had its up and downs and it seems to be paying off with NBA Live 19, but even when the series was in rough shape, there were flashes of brilliance and good concepts. One of those ideas was BIG Moments.

A fresh mode that brought dynamic content to the game, BIG Moments is an idea that EA Sports could stand to revisit in future releases, even as NBA Live explores new modes of play such as LIVE Events and Court Battles. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: All-Time College DLC for NBA 2K17

All-Time College DLC in NBA 2K17

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 All-Time College DLC for NBA 2K17.

Downloadable content hasn’t been too common for basketball video games over the years. Compared to RPGs with their expansion packs and fighting games with their myriad of DLC characters, NBA Live and NBA 2K have generally stuck with the “recurrent revenue” model to earn additional income from their annual releases. There has been some DLC for hoops titles though, from the free Oklahoma City logo update for NBA Live 09 to NBA 2K12’s Legends Showcase that cost $10 (or 800 Microsoft Points).

The NBA 2K series has featured some DLC as recently as NBA 2K17, however. In addition to offering up the 1992 Dream Team as a pre-order bonus, 2K also released an All-Time College DLC pack. The pack, which was available around launch and exclusive to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions, expanded the roster of bonus teams with some college content; a rarity in the wake of the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit. I realise that NBA 2K17 is still a fairly recent game, but let’s take a look back…a little way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: The NBA Live Academy

Dunking in the NBA Live Academy (NBA Live 09)

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 Academy.

I’ve discussed my desire to see NBA Live’s Franchise mode get better and deeper on more than one occasion, and it’s something that I still hope will happen in the future. Something that we really need to see with the mode is the return of several useful and innovative features that flesh out the experience and make it more engaging. I’ve mentioned a few of these features in previous articles, but one that deserves a more in-depth look is the NBA Live Academy. Having recently gone back and taken a few screenshots, it feels like a good time for a retrospective!

Also known simply as the Academy, it was both an aesthetic enhancement, and an improvement in the way that player development was handled. It was only featured in a couple of NBA Live games, but that was enough to make its mark, and establish it as a concept that I for one would love to see reintroduced in Franchise mode in the not too distant future. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Slow Motion Dunks in NBA Live

Slow Motion Dunks Option in NBA Live 95

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 slow motion dunks in older versions of NBA Live.

It’s interesting to look back at the features and mechanics that were featured in old basketball video games. There’s a reason that many of them ended up being dropped over the years – especially as the sim titles aimed to be more and more realistic – but there’s still a lot of nostalgia in them. When I think back to games like NBA Live 95 and NBA Live 96, one of my fondest memories is of throwing down big dunks and having my player point at his opponent, or pumping his arm in triumph, as he runs back on defense.

In fact, I’d say that a lot of older basketball gamers remember that aspect of dunking in the early NBA Live games. A feature that made those dunks even more exciting – much as they could be with the animations of the time – was the option for slow motion dunks. It’s an outdated concept now, particularly in the era of online play, but in its day it was pretty cool. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: The Legend of Jackson Ellis

Jackson Ellis in NBA 2K19

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 virtual career of Jackson Ellis in NBA 2K, and the legend that it has spawned over six games.

Minor spoiler alert: in NBA 2K19’s MyCAREER mode, Jackson Ellis makes a return to the virtual hardwood. One of the most memorable characters in basketball video games, this year he enjoyed his most prominent role since NBA 2K14, when he was introduced as the rival of your MyPLAYER. Not only has Ellis resonated with NBA 2K gamers, he’s clearly a favourite of the development team as well. Even though he’s only stepped onto the court in a couple of titles, he’s appeared or been referenced in every MyCAREER mode on the current generation.

So what’s the story behind the infamously brash and outspoken Jackson Ellis? Well, the exact story differs for each of us, but in broad strokes, Visual Concepts has been weaving a subplot with Ellis over the past six years. To appreciate the Legend of Jackson Ellis, we need to return to where it all began in the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One version of NBA 2K14. To that end, let’s go back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 99 & NBA Live 09 Trivia

Pau Gasol in NBA Live 09

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 some NBA Live 99 and NBA Live 09 trivia, ahead of the release of NBA Live 19.

We’re just a couple of days away from the launch of NBA Live 19. It’s shaping up to be a good year for NBA Live, as the series continues its comeback after many years of rebuilding. Hopefully NBA Live will continue to go from strength to strength from here on out, as it did during its glory years of the mid 90s to around 2005. Back then, EA Sports were doing some very innovative things with the series, and it felt like every year brought something new to the table. As I said in my retrospective, that was certainly the case with NBA Live 99.

NBA Live 09 was also a good bounce back year for the series, and remains one of its best releases during the PlayStation 3/Xbox 360 generation. With the series having been around for over two decades, it’s interesting to look back at the game that came out ten years before the current one, and the one that was released ten years before that. With that in mind, I’ve compiled some NBA Live 99 and NBA Live 09 trivia, similar to what I did last year with NBA Live 98 and NBA Live 08. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: The Isometric Camera Angle in NBA Live

Isometric Camera Angle in NBA Live 95 (Rockets vs Magic)

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 iconic isometric camera angle in NBA Live.

Camera angles have a significant impact on the quality of the gameplay experience across a wide variety of genres. As many titles in the early days of 3D would end up demonstrating, poorly designed camera angles and movement resulted in artificial difficulty, either by obscuring the player’s view at inopportune moments, or simply by not providing a suitable view of the action at any time. In sports video games, a bad camera angle made it a lot easier to step out of bounds, and it was harder to determine where players were in relation to each other and the field of play.

Most early basketball video games used a similar sideline camera angle, which was fine for the time, but did have a few drawbacks. EA Sports would change things up with the release of NBA Live 95, when they switched to an isometric camera angle. Not only does it remain a distinctive look that gamers found appealing, it also made the gameplay experience far more enjoyable. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Playing With The Developers in NBA Live

Unlockable Developers in 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 times we were able to unlock the developers and their hidden teams in NBA Live.

These days, there is a lot more awareness of who the people behind our favourite basketball video games are. Many of them are visible and active on Twitter, which affords us an opportunity to ask them questions and provide feedback for future releases. That level of interaction wasn’t possible in the early days of basketball gaming, but we did have some awareness of the developers behind the games we were playing. Not only were their names prominently displayed on the credits screens, but in some cases, we could actually play with them.

It’s something of an antiquated feature these days, with more focus on bonus content such as historical squads and the like. All things considered, that has been the right direction for basketball video games to take, but there is a certain charm in those old cheat codes that allowed us to play with a game’s developers. It was a feature in more than one NBA Live title, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: The EA Sports Bio in NBA Live 2004

My NBA Live featuring the EA Sports Bio 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 EA Sports Bio in NBA Live 2004.

In these days of microtransactions for ratings boosts and cosmetic items alike, the notion of receiving rewards for simply playing a game seems rather quaint. Likewise, the idea of having to unlock additional content rather than it being openly promoted as a selling point, either by having it readily available out of the box or perhaps as a pre-order exclusive, seems delightfully retro. That’s how it used to be though, with most content either being unlocked by completing some objective, earning points for an in-game shop, or in some cases, punching in a code.

For their range of 2004 season games, EA Sports introduced a new initiative that was intended to reward gamers, as well as provide an incentive to buy more than one title. That initiative was the EA Sports Bio, a feature that was exclusive to consoles. Even though it was intended to drive sales and put the squeeze on the competition, it was an initiative that benefited gamers even if you only purchased one title, as I did with NBA Live 2004. It’s an interesting concept that inspired features in later games, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: The Tandy Rec Center in NBA Live 06 PC

Dwyane Wade in the Tandy Rec Center (NBA Live 06 PC)

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 Tandy Rec Center in NBA Live 06.

In addition to the commendable job that EA Sports has done with the team arenas in NBA Live, the series has boasted some interesting and well-designed venues beyond the NBA hardwood. From the street courts in NBA Live 2003 to The Temple in the Xbox 360 versions of NBA Live 06 and 07, to The Hangar and the global courts we’re set to experience in NBA Live 19, NBA Live’s art team has done some great things with real and fictional venues alike. One practice venue that doesn’t get mentioned very often however is the Tandy Rec Center in the PC version of NBA Live 06.

A little out of the norm for a sim-oriented NBA video game, it nevertheless stands out as one of the more unique venues featured in the NBA Live series. Since I’ve already taken a look back at several of the old practice and 1-on-1 courts in NBA Live, I felt it would only be fitting to profile this distinctive gym from one of my all-time favourite games. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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