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NLSC Podcast #309: A Tribute to Kobe Bryant

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Episode #309 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! This week, Dee4Three and I pay tribute to the late and legendary Kobe Bryant with reflections on his career, and impact on basketball video games.

It’s been almost a week, but it’s still hard to get our heads around the news that Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others were killed in a helicopter accident. We extend our condolences to the Bryants and the other families who suffered this terrible loss, and talk about how we came to hear the news. This leads into some reflections on Kobe’s career, and how we came to regard him over the 20 years he played in the NBA. We also talk about his connection to video games as a cover player, and discuss the idea of a challenge mode in NBA 2K21, along with a roster project.

Tune in below!

What are your memories of Kobe Bryant, in real life and on the virtual hardwood? 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.

Monday Tip-Off: Rest in Peace, Kobe Bryant

Monday Tip-Off: Rest in Peace, Kobe Bryant

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 tribute to the late and legendary Kobe Bryant.

Depending on where you are in the world, the week was ending or just getting started when you heard the tragic news that Kobe Bryant had been killed in a helicopter crash in California. Following unfounded rumours and speculation, we eventually learned that his daughter Gianna, and seven other people, also lost their lives in the accident. It’s been difficult to process the news. Words like “surreal” feel so cliché at a time like this, but they’re nevertheless apt. Social media timelines and NBA broadcasts have been filled with grief and tributes since the terrible news broke.

I too feel compelled to pay tribute to Kobe Bryant, now that I’m past the initial shock. However, I will admit that I was hesitant to forego my planned column in favour of this one. I didn’t want it to be in poor taste, to come across as an opportunistic content creator who’s just trying to get clicks and attention by talking about a topical tragedy. Ultimately, I decided that I wouldn’t let cynicism deter me. Whether you cheered for him or against him, Kobe Bryant was one of the greatest players in league history, carving out a remarkable legacy in the real NBA and on the virtual hardwood alike. It’s only appropriate to pay tribute to him as we all mourn this awful turn of events.

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The Friday Five: 5 Players Who Only Appeared on Certain Teams in Games (Part 2)

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 more players who only appeared on certain teams in video games.

It’s time for Part 2 of a topic I’ve previously covered here in The Friday Five: players who appeared on certain teams in video games, but not in real life. As I said last time, one of the fun parts of revisiting old games is seeing a snapshot of the NBA as it was when they were current, and recalling players’ forgotten stints with various teams. In doing so, you can also discover oddities such as players appearing on the rosters of teams that they never actually suited up for in real life. Although these look like mistakes, there are several reasons why it happens.

As I noted in my previous article, these include early roster cut-off dates and deals made later in the offseason, deals that are voided, and injuries that put players on the shelf for the entire time they’re with a particular team. Roster cut-off dates aren’t an issue anymore thanks to official updates – and we could always make updates to the rosters ourselves – but due to the aforementioned circumstances, some players will still only ever suit up for a particular team on the virtual hardwood, while being little more than a name on the roster/payroll in real life. Once again, I find trivia like that to be quite interesting due to the different back stories, so here are five more examples!

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Wayback Wednesday: Old School Season Modes

Old School Season Modes (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 taking a look back at old school Season modes.

Modern basketball games have their issues which are important to discuss, but one thing we can’t say is that they don’t offer a variety of experiences. Even though NBA Live’s modes are still in need of fleshing out, by including Franchise, Ultimate Team, and The One with its connected experiences, we’re presented with a few choices. One of NBA 2K’s strengths for many years has been its deep modes, with MyLEAGUE, MyGM, MyTEAM, and MyCAREER’s online and offline modes keeping us hooked year after year. We’re provided several different ways of playing virtual basketball.

As much as the controls, graphics, physics, and any other aspect of modern titles, it’s the modes that make old basketball video games look primitive. The most in-depth experience on offer was generally the single Season mode, with minimal GM options and no independent action by the CPU teams. Nevertheless, we made the most of those old school Season modes, until they evolved into the multi-faceted, multi-season experiences that they would eventually become. They’re an important step in the evolution of basketball gaming, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Cheat Codes in Basketball Video Games

Menu for Cheat Codes in NBA 2K13

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 of the cheat codes that were featured in older basketball games.

When it comes to video game nostalgia, a feature that many of us old school gamers remember fondly is the cheat code. These days, accelerating progress in most games comes down to pay-to-win mechanics, but once upon a time, we used cheat codes in the form of passwords and button combinations. While cheat codes aren’t completely outmoded, they seem to be far less common than they once were. In basketball games, they’ve generally been phased out over the past generation or so.

It’s kind of a shame. While they aren’t necessary – especially in sim games – they were often fun ways of altering the gameplay experience, and hid some cool secrets. Some games used them to unlock new content with the codes being revealed at some point post-launch; something of a precursor to the content updates we now see. There have been quite a few memorable cheat codes in basketball video games over the years, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Kobe Bryant in NBA Courtside

Kobe Bryant in NBA Courtside

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, it’s a video retrospective of Kobe Bryant in NBA Courtside for the Nintendo 64.

When Kobe Bryant played his final NBA game, I dedicated a Wayback Wednesday feature to his history in basketball video games. With his jersey retirement ceremony taking place this week, it seems only fitting that I look at one of those titles in more detail. Released for the Nintendo 64 in 1998, Kobe Bryant in NBA Courtside was the first of three Nintendo-exclusive games endorsed by the Black Mamba, and one of two titles that featured the rising star on the cover that season. I’ve mentioned it in several articles to date, so an in-depth retrospective is somewhat overdue.

An article didn’t feel like quite enough to mark the occasion, and it’s long been my intention to get into the habit of creating more video content for my weekly features. With that in mind, I’ve put together a video retrospective of Kobe Bryant in NBA Courtside, which you can watch below, or check out here over on our YouTube channel. Without any further ado, let’s take a look back…way back…

I hope you enjoy the retrospective! As 2017 draws to a close, I probably won’t be releasing any new videos over the next couple of weeks, but I’m looking forward to creating them more often in 2018, along with my regular written features. To that end, be sure to subscribe to the NLSC on YouTube, and keep it locked to the NLSC every Wednesday for more retro basketball gaming content.

The Friday Five: 5 More Basketball Game Features Ahead of Their Time

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 takes a look at five basketball game features that were ahead of their time.

I guess I’m in the mood for sequels at the moment. After following up an older Friday Five with another list of random basketball game facts a couple of weeks ago, I’ve got another Part 2 column for you today. Back in October of last year, I talked about five basketball game features that were ahead of their time. Since the list is obviously much longer than just those five, and we’re in the midst of learning about the new additions and innovations in this year’s games, I thought I’d take the opportunity to discuss five more basketball game features that were ahead of their time when they made their debut.

Like I said in my previous column, it can be surprising to see how long ago it was that certain features made their basketball game debut. Conversely, it’s also somewhat disheartening when you remember that some of them can’t be found in more recent titles. On a more positive note, some features and gameplay mechanics have definitely been enhanced since they were first implemented, or paved the way for similar and ultimately superior concepts. With that in mind, here are five basketball game features that demonstrated great foresight and technological achievement.

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The Friday Five: 5 Roster Oddities in Basketball 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 five oddities found in the rosters of various basketball games.

Whether you’re updating a basketball video game or simply playing it, the accuracy of the roster is probably going to be of great importance to you. Sometimes, that authenticity is limited or compromised by factors such as the roster cut-off date, lockouts, and a lack of licensing rights for specific players. Official roster updates have ultimately counteracted those first two issues, and unofficial updates can provide workarounds for the third. Furthermore, through consistent official updates and user customisation, questionable ratings don’t have to remain a problem for long, either.

Of course, even if certain issues can be easily resolved by official or unofficial means, basketball games have presented some unusual oddities in their default rosters over the years. Sometimes, unusual real life circumstances lead to inaccuracies, or create other interesting situations. In other cases, the game’s roster management functionality itself is cumbersome, or otherwise strange. Whatever the case may be, there have been a number of roster oddities in basketball video games over the years, and today I’m talking about what I feel are five of the most interesting and noteworthy examples.

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Wayback Wednesday: Remembering Roster Players

Roster Player dunks the basketball 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.

The issue of missing players isn’t as prominent as it was in the early days of basketball gaming. Video games have become a huge industry, authenticity is the name of the game, and the licensing agreement with the NBA Players Association ensures that all active players are represented in NBA Live and NBA 2K. These days, active players who aren’t included at launch are added via official roster updates, so most of the issues with missing players involve historical players that couldn’t be licensed. Fortunately, as the addition of Steve Nash in the latest NBA 2K17 roster update demonstrates, that doesn’t have to be a permanent problem either.

As I’ve discussed in previous articles, this wasn’t always the case. Due to certain players retaining full control over their likeness rights, and sometimes signing exclusive deals with specific developers, some of the biggest names in basketball have been missing from classic hoops games. In some cases, however, they didn’t leave a vacant spot on their team’s roster. Some games elected to include placeholder players, which many old school basketball gamers came to call Roster Players, after the name they were given in various editions of NBA Live.

Roster Players have an interesting legacy in basketball gaming, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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