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NLSC Podcast #321: A New Look for Old Games

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Episode #321 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Join Dee4Three and I as we talk about the importance of historical content, and a rumour that’s making the rounds. We also reimagine covers for classic games, and discuss the issue of starting over every year.

The Last Dance has inspired an increase in gamers playing with classic Bulls teams in NBA 2K20. This leads us to reflect on how important it is to have historical content in games, and how our gaming habits are affected by what’s going on in the world of basketball. We also touch on a rumour about NBA Live that’s making the rounds, mostly due to wishful thinking and a desire to have another viable sim game. In our main discussion this week, we go back and reimagine covers for games beginning with Lakers vs. Celtics, including hypothetical Legend Edition covers. We also talk about the pain of starting over every year in MyCAREER and MyTEAM, and the likelihood of seeing certain Legends in NBA 2K.

Tune in below!

Who would you choose if you had to reimagine covers for old games? Are you weary of the annual grind in modern titles? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as suggestions for topics that you’d like to hear us discuss in future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki.

Wayback Wednesday: Marking NBA Milestones in Video Games

Wayback Wednesday: Marking NBA Milestones in Video Games

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 reflecting on how video games mark different NBA milestones, and how it dates them.

On several occasions, I’ve mentioned that video games serve as wonderful time capsules for the NBA. They’re a snapshot of the league at the time they’re released, preserving the rosters, team branding, and the rules and formats of the era. When you revisit an old NBA video game, you’re often reminded of players’ brief and forgotten tenures with certain teams, “What If” scenarios and lineups that never lived up to the hype, and the jerseys and logos that you both loved and hated. In a way, old games can act as interactive almanacs, and are a fun way to revisit NBA history.

With that in mind, basketball video games preserve different eras and milestones in the real NBA as much as they’re a timeline of gaming and technology. In many of my Wayback Wednesday features, as well as my 25th Anniversary of NBA Live articles, I’ve reflected on how various titles have represented an evolution in the genre, and the improvements that are noticeable from year to year. On this occasion, I’m looking at how they represent NBA milestones and significant changes in the league, as well as the way those events make them dated. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: The Future of Basketball Gaming Nostalgia

Monday Tip-Off: The Future of Basketball Gaming Nostalgia

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on what basketball gaming nostalgia is going to look like in the not too distant future.

In recent episodes of the NLSC Podcast, we’ve been discussing old basketball games and reflecting on our nostalgia. We’ve talked about the different nostalgic phases that we go through, as well as some of the games that influenced the way we approach the virtual hardwood. We also recorded a big two part episode for the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live, which was a lot of fun. As much as I enjoy playing the latest game and other recent releases, I also like to revisit old favourites and reflect on the history of the genre. It’s one of the reasons I do Wayback Wednesday every week.

However, I’ve recently been wondering what basketball gaming nostalgia is going to be like for recent titles as they get older. Will they inspire the same kind of fondness that we older gamers have for an NBA Jam or NBA Live 95, or will they be discarded and dismissed? Will we, and especially the younger gamers who are growing up with these titles, see fit to revisit them the same way we like to dust off the old titles that we love? Perhaps most importantly, will it even be viable to revisit those games and their experiences that captivated us for hours on end? My feeling is that nostalgia for basketball games is going to look and play out somewhat differently moving forward.

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NLSC Podcast #315: Old Games & Old Habits

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Episode #315 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Join Dee4Three and myself as we talk about our basketball gaming habits and preferences, and how the games we grew up playing in the 90s and early 2000s ended up shaping those tastes.

With the NBA shut down for the foreseeable future, it’s a great time to not only catch up on gaming, but also classic NBA games. We discuss some of the ways the NBA could improve League Pass and the official YouTube channel, including some comparisons to the WWE Network. Speaking of history, the 25th Anniversary of Michael Jordan’s first comeback is making us feel old, but it’s a good excuse to play the Double Nickel game in NBA 2K11’s Jordan Challenge. On that note, our main discussion topic this week is our basketball gaming preferences past and present, with reflections on the titles from the 90s and early 2000s that influenced our tastes and habits. From our preferred quarter and season length to how often we sim and how much realism we like, those old games established how we approach the virtual hardwood. We also touch on some of the quirks of those old games.

Tune in below!

What are your basketball gaming preferences? Which games shaped them, and have they changed over the years? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as suggestions for topics that you’d like to hear us discuss in future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki.

The Friday Five: 5 Worst Things in 5 of My Favourite Games

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of the five worst things in five of my favourite basketball video games.

I’ve been playing basketball video games for many years now, and there are several titles that stand out as my favourites. I’m probably overdue to write an article where I rank them, either in Monday Tip-Off or as a multi-part Friday Five series. With over two decades’ worth of games, the arcade and sim subgenres, and more than one series among my favourites, a Top 5 wouldn’t be sufficient. I feel I’d end up making some very contrived selections in order to make the list of five as varied and interesting as possible, which wouldn’t necessarily allow it to be completely accurate and honest.

Obviously, games become our favourites because of their strong points. The titles we love the most are the ones that offer the best combinations of quality gameplay, deep modes, and memorable features. They’re the ones that we’ve spent hours upon hours with, creating many fond memories on the virtual hardwood. However, even the best games and the ones that rank as our personal favourites have their problems. It’s rare that there isn’t one thing that bugs us, one thing we can point to as being the worst aspect of a game that we otherwise hold dear. With that in mind, here are five of the worst things in five games that I’d rank among my personal all-time favourites.

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 2004’s Unusual Ratings

Wayback Wednesday: Unusual Ratings 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 unusual ratings in NBA Live 2004.

As I noted in my in-depth retrospective of NBA Live 2004 for our 25th Anniversary of NBA Live celebrations, the game was a strong return to form after NBA Live 2003 was skewed in more of an arcade direction. It revamped the franchise experience into Dynasty mode, saw the addition of gameplay sliders, and introduced new player animations and physics with 10-Man Freestyle. It’s a fantastic game for its era, and tipped off a strong three year run for the series. I’d still rate it as one of my favourite games, and rank it among the best all-around NBA Live titles.

Of course, it does have a handful of issues. I’ve talked about some of the problems that occurred in the offseason of the new Dynasty mode, and mentioned a couple of other quirks in my retrospective. Something that a lot of gamers who played NBA Live 2004 will no doubt remember is the unusual ratings – specifically the Overall Ratings – for many of the players, past and present. As usual, there’s a story behind the oddity, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Errors That Were Never Fixed

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five errors in various basketball video games that were never fixed.

Post-release support for basketball video games has come a long way. Official roster updates are now the norm, and while there are complaints about their quality, they at least add new content to the game, and update modes where custom rosters can’t be used. We no longer have to petition the developers to create bug fixes, and it’s much easier to provide feedback about errors that arise. Modern NBA Live and NBA 2K titles do have their problems, but we’re more likely to see resolutions, as well as content updates that keep them fresh throughout the year.

This wasn’t always the case, especially on consoles. Before the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 era, patches and updates were mostly a perk of PC releases. Even then, they weren’t as plentiful or detailed as they are now. There were a lot of errors that we just had to put up with, as there was no way that they were going to be fixed until the next game came out; assuming they didn’t become legacy issues, of course! Mind you, even when games did receive official patches, they would sometimes introduce new errors that were never followed up on with further fixes. Some of these errors were just cosmetic, some we could fix ourselves, but all were annoying in their own way.

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Monday Tip-Off: How Career Modes Overtook Franchise Modes

Monday Tip-Off: How Career Modes Overtook Franchise Modes

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a look at how career modes ended up surpassing franchise modes in popularity.

As a long-time basketball gamer, it’s been interesting to not only see how the games have evolved, but also how trends and attitudes have changed. A noteworthy example of changing trends is the popularity of franchise modes. There was a time when they were considered the pinnacle of modes in basketball games, a dream come true for those of us who remember playing the basic single season modes of early titles. These days, they’re seen as passé; something for “old heads”, despite the fact younger hoops gamers enjoy them too. If nothing else, they’re no longer the flagship mode.

That distinction now belongs to career modes, and their connected online experiences. In some respects, it’s not surprising. It took longer for fully-formed career modes to make their way into NBA 2K and NBA Live, and there had been an interest in seeing them for quite some time. Indeed, the franchise modes were often used to simulate a single player career mode, so gamers clearly wanted that type of experience. The shift towards career modes is still interesting however, especially as they’ve drawn in gamers who have traditionally been all about franchise play. How did this happen? Well, I have a few theories as to how career modes gained and maintained popularity.

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Monday Tip-Off: Too Much at Stake to Experiment

Monday Tip-Off: Too Much at Stake to Experiment

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on how we’re less inclined to mess around in basketball video games these days, because there’s too much at stake to experiment.

During our discussion of franchise gaming in Episode #303 of the NLSC Podcast, I mentioned how franchise modes are a throwback to the days when we were freer to experiment with basketball video games. It’s something that I’ve thought about a lot since getting into MyCAREER and the online scene in recent years. As much fun as I’ve had with those modes, I’m aware of how careful I’ve had to be in order to enjoy myself. A wrong choice can easily torpedo a saved game, wasting hours of grinding with undesirably dire consequences.

Of course, you could argue that that’s part of the challenge now; a key component of an evolved experience. You have to think about your decisions and choose wisely, and if you don’t and suffer because of it, then it’s on you for not playing the game properly. I understand that, and there’s merit in having to commit to a choice, as well as fun in an experience that’s curated to some extent. However, if the consequences are actively discouraging us from experimenting and seeing everything that a game has to offer, that’s rather unfortunate. We still have that freedom to experiment in a mode like MyLEAGUE, but in MyCAREER, there’s simply too much at stake.

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Monday Tip-Off: The Difficulty of Going Back

Monday Tip-Off: The Difficulty of Going Back

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on the increasing difficulty of going back to an older basketball title.

Recently, I looked into producing a couple of ideas that I’d been kicking around for Wayback Wednesday for some time: going back and finishing 100 Challenges in NBA Live 15’s Ultimate Team, and finishing 50 Challenges in NBA Live 16 LUT. Once the NBA Live 15 server shutdown was announced, I knew that I’d have to get onto the first idea as soon as possible, as it would no longer be doable once online support ended. I drafted the introduction to the piece, fired up NBA Live 15, and started a game. I was intent on making a feature out of some unfinished business.

Only, that’s as far as I was able to get. I couldn’t finish the game, and after taking a glance at NBA Live 16, I likewise decided against going ahead with those features. Granted, it was partly due to calculating how much time it was going to take and deciding that it’d be too many hours of repetitive play that I could be spending on other projects. It was doable of course, as long as I put in the time every day before the shutdown, but the prospect wasn’t appealing. I came to the realisation that it was no longer as easy to go back and play old games, compared to previous generations. For me at least, there’s just too much difficulty in going back for an extended time.

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NLSC Podcast #303: Putting On Our Virtual GM Suits

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Episode #303 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! This week, Dee4Three and I discuss a mysterious new patch for NBA 2K19, our appreciation for franchise gaming, and how the preferences of basketball gamers have evolved over the years.

A new patch has come through for the console versions of NBA 2K19. There aren’t any patch notes or any word on what it might entail, leaving us to speculate on what it’s all about. We also talk about gamers returning to NBA 2K19 and other older games, as well as the possibility of servers being turned back on. After touching on some issues with toxic attitudes in basketball gaming, we dive into the topic of franchise modes. They were once the premiere attraction in NBA titles, but have since been surpassed by career modes and the connected experiences. We reflect on how preferences came to shift, while also noting that franchise gaming still has plenty to offer. We’ve also got some advice for enjoying franchise modes, and share fond memories of putting on our virtual GM suits.

Tune in below!

What are your thoughts on franchise gaming in NBA Live and NBA 2K? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as suggestions for topics that you’d like to hear us discuss in future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki.

25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 06 Retrospective

25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 06 Retrospective

To mark the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live, we’re taking a look back at every game in the series with retrospectives and other fun content! This also includes re-running some features from our 20th Anniversary celebrations, with a few revisions. Whether you’re a long-time basketball gamer who grew up with NBA Live and are keen on taking a trip down memory lane, or you’re new to the series and want to learn about its history, we hope that you enjoy celebrating the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live here at the NLSC! Today, it’s a retrospective of NBA Live 06.

After the success of NBA Live 2005, NBA Live 06 proved to be a pivotal moment in the series; one that NBA Live is still feeling the effects of today. Because of those long-term ramifications, it’s all too easy to forget that NBA Live 06 is a tale of two games: a last gen and PC release that was at least on par with its predecessor, and a new gen launch title that was a disappointment. It’s unfortunate that the latter often overshadows the former, but it’s understandable, given the lasting impact that it had. Nevertheless, I’ll be covering both versions of the game in this retrospective. Let’s look back at the good, the bad, and the ugly in a significant year for NBA Live.

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25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 2005 Retrospective

25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 2005 Retrospective

To mark the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live, we’re taking a look back at every game in the series with retrospectives and other fun content! This also includes re-running some features from our 20th Anniversary celebrations, with a few revisions. Whether you’re a long-time basketball gamer who grew up with NBA Live and are keen on taking a trip down memory lane, or you’re new to the series and want to learn about its history, we hope that you enjoy celebrating the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live here at the NLSC! Today, it’s a retrospective of NBA Live 2005.

In my NBA Live 2004 retrospective, I summed up that game by calling it a tough act to follow. That’s what makes NBA Live 2005 so impressive, as it met the standard of its predecessor and raised the bar even higher. Many would call it the best game in the NBA Live series, or at the very least, rank it somewhere in the top five, if not the top three. It’s a reputation that’s well-earned, as it improved upon NBA Live 2004 in just about every way possible, and still holds up extremely well over a decade later. It had a few issues of course, but it was still a great release, and remains a personal favourite of mine. Let’s take a look back at another milestone game in the NBA Live series.

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25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 2004 Retrospective

25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 2004 Retrospective

To mark the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live, we’re taking a look back at every game in the series with retrospectives and other fun content! This also includes re-running some features from our 20th Anniversary celebrations, with a few revisions. Whether you’re a long-time basketball gamer who grew up with NBA Live and are keen on taking a trip down memory lane, or you’re new to the series and want to learn about its history, we hope that you enjoy celebrating the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live here at the NLSC! Today, it’s a retrospective of NBA Live 2004.

After NBA Live 2003 leaned too much towards an arcade style of gameplay, NBA Live 2004 was a very welcome course correction. It took the strong points of its predecessor, such as Freestyle Control, and built a more robust sim game on that foundation. It was also the beginning of a very solid three year run for NBA Live on PC, PlayStation 2, and Xbox, before the series began to struggle with its transition to the next generation. NBA Live 2004 was generally very well-received in its day, and it remains a favourite for many long-time basketball gamers. It was definitely a return to form for the series, and the game most of us wished NBA Live 2003 had been.

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NLSC Podcast #301: 25th Anniversary of NBA Live (Part 1)

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Episode #301 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! This is Part 1 of a two-part episode, as Dee4Three and I celebrate the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live. We’re covering the series’ origins through to NBA Live 06 in Part 1, with retrospectives, trivia, and personal memories. Be sure to catch Part 2 next week, when we cover NBA Live 07 through to the present!

To mark the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live, we’re taking a look back at the history of the series with retrospectives and other fun content. We’re extending those deep dive retrospectives to the NLSC Podcast, as we start at the beginning with the precursor to the NBA Live series: Lakers vs. Celtics. From there, we move on to the game that started it all – NBA Live 95 – and go through the series year by year, discussing improvements to gameplay, debuting features, modding, and the overall evolution of the series. Along the way, we share some personal anecdotes of our time with the earlier titles, and compare them to the other releases they were competing with. We also discuss how and why the quality of the early NBA Live games is too often forgotten. Part 1 ends with NBA Live 06, a significant turning point for the series that it’s still feeling the effects of today.

Tune in below!

What are your memories of NBA Live 95 through NBA Live 06? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as suggestions for topics that you’d like to hear us discuss in future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki.