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Wayback Wednesday

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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Wayback Wednesday: Swapping Files in NBA Live 95 & NBA Live 96 PC

Switched Sonics & Rockets Logos in NBA Live 96

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 dusting off NBA Live 95 and NBA Live 96 PC, and swapping some files around.

Let’s do something a little different for this week’s Wayback Wednesday; let’s tinker with the PC versions of NBA Live 95 and NBA Live 96! Specifically, we’re going to swap some art files between the games, just to see what works. The idea of swapping compatible files between games didn’t take off until much later, mostly because we generally didn’t create much in the way of custom art mods for the early games in the series. My complete update for NBA Live 96 featured updated logos and jerseys that another member contributed, but generally speaking, rosters didn’t include art updates.

With dial-up Internet connections, comprehensive updates simply weren’t the done thing. It’s a shame we didn’t look into it though, because there are assets that can be swapped between NBA Live 95 and NBA Live 96. There’s not a wide variety of mods that can benefit from this technique, but if nothing else, it could’ve enhanced roster updates with some season-specific artwork. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: The Hidden Rookies in NBA Live 2004

Kyle Korver was one of the hidden rookies 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 hidden rookies that were available in NBA Live 2004.

The Draft Class of 2003 is considered one of the best in NBA history. It boasts an impressive list of names, including LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade. Plenty of other noteworthy players such as David West, Kirk Hinrich, Josh Howard, Mo Williams, Jason Kapono, James Jones, Luke Walton, Steve Blake, and Kendrick Perkins were also in that class. Four of the top five picks have been All-NBA selections, and nine players have been All-Stars, including two second rounders. It’s a strong class with a handful of future Hall of Famers in its ranks.

Obviously, those players made their video game debut in the titles released for the 2004 season, such as NBA Live 2004, and ESPN NBA Basketball 2K4. Interestingly, quite a few of them were hidden by default in NBA Live 2004, and unlockable via codes. I’ve mentioned them before in articles discussing the game’s hidden content, but I thought I’d take a closer look at how their careers turned out, and also provide a few in-game screenshots, especially since not all of them made it to the NBA. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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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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