Wayback Wednesday: The Timeline of NBA Jam TE PC & PS1

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Re: Wayback Wednesday: Tom Gugliotta & Basketball Video Games

Postby Andrew on Wed Feb 21, 2024 12:35 pm

Wayback Wednesday: Tom Gugliotta & Basketball Video Games

There are some well-known examples of players whose history with basketball video games is interesting and unusual. It seems such a weird and unfathomable situation nowadays, but back in the 90s, Roster Players were frequently a necessity due to the absence of Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley, owing to them retaining the rights to their likenesses. Shaquille O’Neal was also briefly exclusive to NBA Live, and even David Robinson once required a stand-in. Of course, I also enjoy delving into virtual hardwood trivia concerning far more obscure players, such as Junior Harrington.

Now, on the scale of obscurity to all-time fame, Tom Gugliotta is probably closer to the likes of MJ, Chuck, Shaq, and The Admiral than he is to Harrington. That is to say, if you were to ask long-time basketball fans and history buffs, they’d be far more likely to recall Googs than Junior. With that being said, like so many players of yesteryear that were very good but not all-time greats, Gugliotta doesn’t get talked about enough. That’s unfortunate from a basketball standpoint, but his career also resulted in some fun NBA video game trivia. Let’s take a look back…way back…
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: EA Sports Cover Players in NBA Live 16

Postby Andrew on Wed Feb 28, 2024 12:56 pm

Wayback Wednesday: EA Sports Cover Players in NBA Live 16

Did you know that every single NBA 2K cover player is available to play with in NBA 2K24? Between the cover players that are still active and the game’s array of classic and All-Time teams, they’re all accounted for. Obviously, we haven’t had a new NBA Live since 2018, but even then, NBA Live 19 didn’t include every cover player in the history of the series. On top of that, a couple of the cover players that were included in NBA Live 19 were nevertheless retired, and thus exclusive to the collection of Legends in Ultimate Team.

If we want to find the last NBA Live game that featured a healthy selection of players who appeared on the cover of EA Sports’ long-running basketball sim series, we must go back a few years to NBA Live 16. In fact, not only does NBA Live 16 feature a number of NBA Live cover players, but also players who graced the covers of EA Sports’ college basketball titles. And so, I thought it might be fun to spotlight those cover players who are readily accessible in NBA Live 16, wearing EA Sports jerseys in the game’s practice mode. Let’s take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: The NBA Live Toolkit

Postby Andrew on Wed Mar 06, 2024 12:39 pm

Wayback Wednesday: The NBA Live Toolkit

In some respects, roster editing in basketball video games has come a long way. We have access to animation packages, salary data, and other attributes that used to be hidden. At the same time, the in-game roster customisation tools still have many of the same drawbacks as they did in much earlier games. There are still attributes and bio data that we can’t edit or add for created players, or even modify for original players. Placeholder players are still difficult to deal with, as they’re not completely customisable. To make truly detailed roster mods, we need external editing tools.

Fortunately, talented people in the community have been able to step up and develop roster editing tools throughout the years. It began with our founders’ editors for the early NBA Live games, Vl@d took on the challenge for the burgeoning NBA 2K modding scene, and Looyh continues to carry the torch today. It hasn’t been easy, with executable and save files needing to be mapped and decoded. However, editing roster files did become easier with the adoption of the DBF format, and the process was further simplified by the NBA Live Toolkit. Let’s take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: The Evolution of Roster Mods

Postby Andrew on Wed Mar 13, 2024 12:56 pm

Wayback Wednesday: The Evolution of Roster Mods

As technological improvements have led to the development of bigger and better basketball video games, our expectations have changed. What were once cutting-edge graphics are no longer impressive. What was once a deep and engaging mode now seems shallow compared to what’s available in a newer game…usually! This isn’t to say that old games are bad and not worth playing. I wouldn’t be diving into basketball gaming history, or advocating for retro gaming, if I didn’t see value in older titles! Still, we always want to see the genre make advancements, so the bar does get raised.

The same goes for modding over the years. While we made some fantastic roster mods for the early NBA Live games on PC, there were limitations to what we could change and include. As it became easier to modify textures and models in addition to player and team data, there was an expectation that roster mods would become more comprehensive. This led to a golden age of NBA Live modding that has since been continued with the NBA 2K series, but in some ways, it’s also been detrimental to the hobby. Let’s take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: Classic Teams in EA’s NCAA Basketball Series

Postby Andrew on Wed Mar 20, 2024 12:18 pm

Wayback Wednesday: Classic Teams in EA’s NCAA Basketball Series

It’s March Madness once again, and for long-time basketball gamers, that means our thoughts turn to college hoops titles. It’s been over a decade since we’ve been able to hit the virtual NCAA hardwood, at least without the aid of mods or retro gaming. As someone who grew up in a PAL region, I wasn’t able to play college basketball video games for many years. Indeed, it wasn’t until I was gifted a PlayStation 3 in 2019 and tracked down a few games from 2K Sports’ College Hoops and EA Sports’ NCAA Basketball series that I was finally able to experience them for myself.

I have to tell you, that’s been a blast! While the NCAA mods for NBA Live and NBA 2K have been fantastic, there are some aspects of college basketball that they can’t quite capture. The on-court experience in NCAA Basketball and College Hoops back in the day was impressively authentic, and a fun change of pace from the NBA titles. Even without adding real player names, I really enjoy them. However, something that has really captured my attention in NCAA March Madness 08 and NCAA Basketball 09 is the classic teams. Not only are they great bonus content, but they also had long-lasting ramifications on basketball gaming. Let’s take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: Timberwolves Franchise in NBA Live 2003

Postby Andrew on Wed Mar 27, 2024 12:55 pm

Wayback Wednesday: Timberwolves Franchise in NBA Live 2003

I’ve had a number of memorable franchise and career mode games over the years. My Dynasty games with the Chicago Bulls in NBA Live 2004 and NBA Live 06 are among my all-time favourite basketball gaming experiences. Likewise, I had a blast with MyCAREER in NBA 2K13, NBA 2K17, and NBA 2K19, and I’m still playing through the mode in NBA 2K14 for PlayStation 4. At the same time, I’ve had some games where I haven’t achieved completion or closure, such as my 1998 season in NBA Live 96 PC, and my Sacramento Kings Franchise in NBA Live 2002.

My Franchise with the Minnesota Timberwolves in NBA Live 2003 PC is another example of a “failed” game. Of course, labelling such games as “failures” probably isn’t the right way of looking at things. I’d actually like to delve into that topic in more depth sometime, but my Timberwolves Franchise does stand as an example of how completion is what we make it. Or, to put it another way, as long as it was fun while it lasted, it’s ultimately neither a failure nor wasted time. That Franchise was certainly memorable for me even if it wasn’t successful, so let’s take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: Basketball Game Manuals

Postby Andrew on Wed Apr 03, 2024 12:14 pm

Wayback Wednesday: Basketball Game Manuals

It’s getting harder to reminisce about physical media without sounding incredibly out of touch, and far older than I am. However, as consumers battle corporate giants over digital ownership and bemoan the disappearance of content from streaming services, I believe that more and more people are beginning to understand why many of us have been clinging to physical media for as long as we can. It’s not simply a case of wistful nostalgia, or a refusal or inability to get with the times. While digital media has the advantage of convenience, physical media offers posterity, and tangible ownership.

But yes, there’s also undeniable nostalgia with physical media, particularly video games. There was something special about going to the video store, browsing the shelves for a game to rent, and choosing one that would be yours to play…at least temporarily! Needless to say, it was even better when you bought a game. Not only was there no time limit to the fun, but you also had the box or case to admire. And inside the box or case, depending on the game, there were manuals, maps, charts, and so on. We’d enthusiastically pore over these materials well before we even dove into gameplay, including hitting the virtual hardwood. Let’s take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: Alternate Jerseys & Retro Gaming

Postby Andrew on Wed Apr 10, 2024 1:28 pm

Wayback Wednesday: Alternate Jerseys & Retro Gaming

One of my pet peeves with the modern NBA is the new approach to jerseys that was adopted when Nike got the uniform contract back in 2017. Sure, we saw the end of those terrible sleeved jerseys that adidas brought in, but it also resulted in a major shakeup to uniform designation and nomenclature. Instead of dedicated home and away jerseys, we have Icon and Association uniforms, with teams choosing which to wear at home and on the road. There are so many alternate jerseys these days from City to Earned Edition uniforms, with designs of varying quality.

What bugs me the most about the current approach to alternate jerseys is that they’re often worn as frequently as the Icon and Association uniforms; or at least, it certainly feels that way. That makes them less special than when they were Sunday uniforms, or otherwise only worn for a handful of games as a change of pace. Given how often some teams wear their City or classic jerseys, it makes you think that maybe those should be the primary uniforms! Grumpy grumbling aside, this approach has given me more of an appreciation for some of those old alternate jerseys, to the point where I’ll frequently use them when I’m retro gaming. Let’s take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: Revisiting the NBA Live 96 PC Rosters

Postby Andrew on Wed Apr 17, 2024 3:04 pm

Wayback Wednesday: Revisiting the NBA Live 96 PC Rosters

Have I mentioned that old basketball video games can be interactive almanacs? I believe I have, once or twice! It’s one of the things that I enjoy the most about retro basketball gaming, on top of the nostalgic throwback gameplay of course. As I’ve noted on several occasions, sim titles capture a snapshot of the league at the time they were released. This includes interesting trivia such as phantom stints, familiar faces in unfamiliar places, and familiar faces back in familiar places, to name just some of the examples that I enjoy keeping my eye out for.

I’ve previously revisited the rosters in NBA Live 2002, NBA Live 95 (both PC and Super Nintendo), and NBA Live 99 PC (with the official update). Those were fun trips down memory lane, but I’m even more excited to revisit the rosters in NBA Live 96 PC. It’s one of my all-time favourite basketball games, and while I sunk countless hours into it playing with my 1998 season roster, I also spent a considerable amount of time with the default lineups. It’s also helped me out with modding, and even in answering trivia all these years later! Let’s take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: Failed Franchise & Season Games

Postby Andrew on Wed Apr 24, 2024 1:35 pm

Wayback Wednesday: Failed Franchise & Season Games

Over the years in Wayback Wednesday, I’ve reminisced about several of my most memorable franchise, season, and career mode games. While they all represent fun times on the virtual hardwood for me, they haven’t been equally successfully as far as completion is concerned. Games where I’ve played through an entire season on twelve minute quarters stand out as the times I’ve really been hooked on the experience, but they’re arguably the exception rather than the rule. There are far more titles that I’ve never finished a single season in, than ones where I’ve had multi-year games.

Of course, as I’ve noted before, completion is what you make it when it comes to the annual sim titles. Unless you stick with a single game for more than a year, it’s tough to get the full multi-year experience in franchise and career modes; especially when you opt for full length seasons on twelve minute quarters without simulating! Even in the games where I didn’t finish the season, I still had a ton of fun. With that being said, there are also franchise and season mode games that I abandoned very quickly. To that end, this week I’m reflecting on some “failed” games, and pondering the concept of “failure” in that context. Let’s take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: 90s Teams in NBA Live 2002

Postby Andrew on Thu May 02, 2024 1:41 am

Wayback Wednesday: 90s Teams in NBA Live 2002

Minimalist modding has become a staple of my retro gaming. It’s a way to indulge nostalgia in multiple ways: the mechanics and aesthetics of my chosen game, the teams that I assemble, and the process of modding. I do also enjoy simply playing with the default rosters, or a roster update set in the same season as the game, for a more authentic step back in time. However, the creativity of minimalist modding so often steers me towards discovering what I can do with the content that’s available in any game that I’ve chosen to revisit.

In games such as NBA 2K6 and NBA Live 10, it’s difficult to go back to the 90s with any makeshift classic teams, at least without creating a bunch of players. After all, by that point, most the stars and role players who were active in the 90s had retired. Not all of the big names had signed on to be Legends around the time of NBA 2K6, and NBA Live 10 doesn’t have any historical teams or players at all. However, since NBA Live 2002 came out closer to the 90s and includes several stars from that decade, is it possible to cobble together some retro teams? Let’s take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: The Jail Blazers & Video Games

Postby Andrew on Wed May 08, 2024 12:41 pm

Wayback Wednesday: The Jail Blazers & Video Games

When my cousin and I were looking to move on from our 1995 Season in NBA Live 95 PC and dive into the all new Franchise mode in NBA Live 2000, we obviously had to choose a team to play with cooperatively. In the interest of neutrality, we opted not to use either of our favourite teams (the Chicago Bulls and Seattle SuperSonics). After discussing it on the phone – this was the year 2000, after all – we ultimately went with the Portland Trail Blazers, and agreed on a few trades. I set everything up ready for his arrival in the school holidays, and we won the title playing a 28-game season.

It’s one of my favourite memories, both of basketball gaming and hanging out with my cousin as a teenager, but why the Portland Trail Blazers? Neither of us had an attachment to the club, and there were other teams that could’ve been just a fun. Well, while the off-court incidents that branded those early 2000s Trail Blazers the "Jail Blazers" may have caused a number of legal headaches and chemistry problems in real life, on the virtual hardwood, they had some deep rosters that were enjoyable to play with, as well as reshape with trades. Let’s take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: 2024 in NBA Live 10

Postby Andrew on Wed May 15, 2024 1:31 pm

Wayback Wednesday: 2024 in NBA Live 10

Even though the game will soon turn fifteen, I still love firing up NBA Live 10. It’s not always my first choice as it was during my big retro kick with it back in 2021, but it remains a favourite. Indeed, I’ve enjoyed it far more in recent years than I did when it was new! My obsession with NBA Live 10 a few years back – and I use that word in a positive way – inspired several Wayback Wednesday features. From celebrating the retro jerseys to exploring some famous “What If” scenarios, I was indulging nostalgia on multiple levels; something that I always love to do with basketball video games.

In June 2021, I profiled the players in NBA Live 10 who were still active, taking screenshots of them on their contemporary teams. Three years later, some of those players have retired, while others are still in the NBA but have moved on to a new team. As I mentioned in my previous article, there’s not a lot to work with as far as creating a current roster – though there are intriguing possibilities with emulation and the PlayStation 3 version – but it’s still fun to bring the present day to an old favourite, if only in a limited way. So, which players in NBA Live 10 are still active as of 2024? Let’s take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: Alternate Venues in NBA Live

Postby Andrew on Wed May 22, 2024 11:25 pm

Wayback Wednesday: Alternate Venues in NBA Live

Whenever I revisit old games, whether it’s to produce a Wayback Wednesday feature or just for my own enjoyment, it’s always a delight to discover – or recall – a detail that I didn’t expect to see. After all, it’s easy enough to forget how long certain features have been around, or the lengths that games went to for authenticity even before the deep modes we now have were feasible. They’re great examples of how those classic titles were the products of developers pushing technology to the limit, while trying to make the best possible basketball game for enthusiastic hoop heads.

As far as the early NBA Live games are concerned, those details demonstrate why EA Sports’ series became the brand leader in the genre, and that being an authentic sim was absolutely the goal. There are numerous examples of this, many of which I’ve discussed in previous retrospectives, but a cool one that flies under the radar is the use of alternate venues in the Season modes of early NBA Live games. It wasn’t necessary to reflect this aspect of the NBA season on the virtual hardwood – especially as it’s easy to miss – so it’s awesome that the games did. Let’s take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: Updated Releases & Unusual Editions

Postby Andrew on Wed May 29, 2024 12:29 pm

Wayback Wednesday: Updated Releases & Unusual Editions

Official patches are a touchy subject in gaming discourse nowadays. Many gamers believe that games are released with less polish because they can be fixed post-launch with patches, including day one updates. Gamers have also grown weary of constant updates, especially when patches are often several gigabytes in size. These concerns and criticisms are understandable, and I generally share them. At the same time, it’s inevitable with games becoming larger in scope. Furthermore, it’s preferable to a time when games rarely received patches on PC, and never received them on console.

Of course, even before patches existed in their current form and were generally PC-exclusive, games did receive fixes and updates. From different revisions of arcade ROMs to a second run of discs and cartridges containing a newer version of a title, many games back in the day received updated releases. This included being re-packaged as some kind of special edition: classics and bestseller lines, compilation packs, and so on. To that end, there have been some updated releases and unusual editions of basketball games over the years. Let’s take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: Roster Updates for NBA Full Court Press

Postby Andrew on Wed Jun 05, 2024 12:23 pm

Wayback Wednesday: Roster Updates for NBA Full Court Press

While Microsoft's NBA Inside Drive series was respectably popular in the early 2000s, many long-time gamers may forget about its predecessor, NBA Full Court Press. It's understandable, of course. Its name didn't spawn a series of titles like Inside Drive, Live, 2K, ShootOut, and so on, and it was also exclusive to PC. Additionally, although it has its strong points and it's interesting to revisit it today, it didn't have the best gameplay or most well-designed modes. I'd suggest that Microsoft made similar mistakes with NBA Inside Drive 2000, before the series took a big leap with 2002.

One of the interesting aspects of NBA Full Court Press is that it was a 1997 season title that featured 1996 season rosters. A few years earlier, it wouldn't have been unusual for a game to launch without updated lineups and a new rookie crop, but that approach had fallen out of vogue by 1996. I've previously covered NBA Full Court Press with a retrospective back in 2018, but the issue of its outdated rosters deserves another look; especially because there were actually some official roster updates that I neglected to mention! Let's take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: The Timeline of NBA Jam TE PC & PS1

Postby Andrew on Fri Jun 14, 2024 12:20 pm

Wayback Wednesday: The Timeline of NBA Jam TE PC & PS1

It’s interesting how many of us who grew up playing video games in the 90s can have different memories of the same title, depending on which platform we played it on. These days, multi-platform releases tend to be identical for the most part. Even when it comes to the cross-generational NBA 2K games these past few years, there are familiar gameplay mechanics in the eighth and ninth gen versions, not to mention shared roster updates and seasonal content. Conversely, back in the 90s, staggered release dates for the same title across various platforms led to interesting differences.

The various iterations of NBA Jam provide some fun examples. Depending on which revision was present in your local arcade, or which home port you played, you’ll recall different squads. These revisions and updates continued with NBA Jam Tournament Edition, infamously resulting in the fourth arcade revision including a cancelled trade. NBA Jam TE was ultimately updated through two NBA seasons by the time the final home ports for PC and PS1 were released, with that timeline leading to an interesting evolution in the rosters and team branding. Let’s take a look back...way back...
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