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Monday Tip-Off: Basketball Gaming Belongs to Suits

Monday Tip-Off: Basketball Gaming Belongs to Suits

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 some thoughts on the rather dismal realisation that basketball gaming belongs to the suits.

I know I said that many things aren’t worth an angry rant, but this isn’t going to be an angry rant. I’m feeling a certain amount of exasperation and pessimism, yes, but I’m trying to remain calm and not rage for the sake of it. As a new generation looms, many of us are wondering what it means for basketball gaming. The genre has already come a long way – a few backwards steps not withstanding – and it remains to be seen what can be accomplished with the added power of the forthcoming consoles. The problem is that that kind of innovation doesn’t appear to be the focus.

Perhaps that’s a harsh and unfair assertion, given that we’re nearing the end of the current generation. We couldn’t have imagined some of the things that we’ve seen over the past seven years, when the previous generation was seemingly tapped out after producing some outstanding basketball games. However, the difference this time around is that gaming has changed. Games are designed with recurrent spending in mind, and microtransactions are no longer just for free-to-play titles. Quality seems secondary to pushy recurrent revenue mechanics; a trend that’s highly unlikely to end anytime soon. It’s clear that the suits control the destiny of hoops games.

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Wayback Wednesday: Jordan vs Bird: One on One Retrospective

Jordan vs Bird Title Screen

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

In my retrospective of Lakers vs Celtics last year, I took a look back at one of the most famous forerunners to EA Sports’ NBA Live series. Although it was the first game in the NBA Playoffs series, and the oldest game in EA’s lineage of five-on-five titles, Lakers vs Celtics was not the developer’s first foray onto the virtual hardwood. That distinction belongs to the 1983 Apple II release commonly referred to as One on One, and alternatively as One on One: Dr. J vs. Larry Bird, or Dr. J and Larry Bird Go One on One. Featuring Julius Erving and Larry Bird going head to head in a one-on-one match-up, it was one of Electronic Arts’ early successes.

The game would pave the way for a 1988 release titled Jordan vs Bird: One on One. This time, Larry Bird was pitted against Dr. J’s heir apparent, Michael Jordan. Not only did it build on the success of its predecessor by featuring more modes of play, it also enjoyed a wider release, coming out on the PC, Nintendo Entertainment System, SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive, Commodore 64, and Game Boy. We’ll be focusing on the PC version for MS-DOS today, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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