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Wayback Wednesday: The Original NBA Jam

NBA Jam Arcade 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 original NBA Jam with an overdue retrospective.

It occurred to me that although I’ve been running these Wayback Wednesday features since 2015, I’ve yet to cover the original NBA Jam, released by Midway in 1993. I’ve talked a lot about its sequel, NBA Jam Tournament Edition, and even covered its spiritual predecessor, Arch Rivals, but I haven’t profiled the famous game that tipped off an iconic series (and indeed, an entire subgenre of basketball gaming). That’s partly because NBA Jam TE is one of my all-time favourite games, but it’s about time that I fill in the gaps and talk about the original.

As an undisputed classic, it’s difficult to say anything about NBA Jam that someone else hasn’t already said. However, it’s too fun, too amazing, and simply too important in the history of basketball gaming for me not to discuss it in a Wayback Wednesday feature. It brought us Fire, shattered backboards, and the legendary commentary of Tim Kitzrow…it’s NBA Jam! Let’s take a look back…way back…

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NLSC Podcast #280: Tim Kitzrow, Voice of NBA Jam

NLSC Podcast Logo

Episode #280 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Dare I say it, this week’s episode is ON FIRE, as I had an opportunity to chat with the legendary voice of NBA Jam himself, Tim Kitzrow! It was a lot of fun talking to Tim, who was very generous with his time and stories. Be sure to follow Tim on Twitter, and hit up Who Said What Now to order your own custom audio messages from the Baron of Boomshakalaka!

The voice of NBA Jam, Tim Kitzrow, joins the NLSC Podcast this week for an extended interview. Tim provides an insight into how he went from classically trained actor and improv artist with The Second City in Chicago, to being the voice of one of basketball gaming’s most iconic series. From the origins of the word Boomshakalaka and fascinating tidbits about NBA Jam and other games Tim has worked on, to Tim’s recent projects and a bunch of other fun stories, this week’s show is a must-listen for all NBA Jam enthusiasts!

Tune in below!

I hope you enjoyed my interview with Tim Kitzrow! Sound off with your thoughts on the NBA Jam series 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.

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Wayback Wednesday: Trivia in Basketball Games

Trivia 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 trivia in basketball games.

Wait a minute, I hear you saying. Don’t most of my Wayback Wednesday features concern trivia about basketball games, specifically titles that are at least a few years old? Well, yes, but this time, I’m talking about the way that basketball games have literally indulged in trivia, presenting gamers with questions that they can answer as well as listing interesting NBA facts. So yes, I am getting a little meta here, presenting some trivia about trivia in basketball games! After all, it’s something that has been featured in various titles over the years, dating way back to the mid 90s.

It may seem like an unusual feature to focus upon, but I do believe that it’s part of the nostalgia for some beloved favourites. It’s also a concept that has evolved over time, and come to be used for more practical and tangible purposes. With that being said, let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Things a New NBA Jam Needs to Have

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 things that a new NBA Jam game needs to have.

Tim Kitzrow’s Tweet confirming that a deal for a new NBA Jam is “in the works” comes as promising news for those of us who love the long-running arcade basketball game series. While we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves until a new game is officially announced, it’s good to hear that EA Sports apparently has interest in making further use of the trademark. The 2010 reboot was a solid and somewhat underrated game, maligned due to its association with NBA Elite 11. On Fire Edition meanwhile was one of the best, if not the best, arcade hoops titles released to date.

It’s been over six years since OFE came out though, and while it was nice to get a new arcade game in the form of Saber Interactive’s NBA Playgrounds, we need a Jam for the current generation. Hopefully a deal will get done and a new game will be in the pipeline, but if that happens, there are a few things it will need to have. The downside of NBA Playgrounds is that it’s light on features, and in some respects, old school in a way that doesn’t hold up. A new NBA Jam game needs to avoid those shortcomings, as well as some problems that have presented themselves over the course of its own lineage. Here are a few suggestions on how that could be achieved.

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The Friday Five: 5 More Random Basketball Game Facts

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 collection of five more random basketball game facts, that I hope you’ll find interesting.

If you enjoy trivia, raise your hand! I’m going to pretend that I actually see people either raising their hands or keeping them down, and then assume that everyone’s hands are in fact raised. That way, I can say of course everyone enjoys trivia! In all seriousness, it’s fair to say that most people enjoy hearing an interesting fact or two about one of their hobbies or interests, and in our community, that may well refer to a favourite basketball game. From Easter Eggs to unusual facts and figures, there’s some interesting basketball video game trivia that we can talk about.

As you’ve no doubt gleaned from the title, this is actually a sequel article to a Friday Five column that I posted a few years back. Now, they say that sequels are never as good as, or better than the originals – with a few noteworthy exceptions, of course – but with all the basketball games that have been released over the years, this is a topic that could probably become a series. As such, I’ll probably revisit it again down the road, but for now, let’s take a look at five more random basketball game facts that hopefully at least a few of you won’t have heard, and will be interested to discover.

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The Friday Five: Best Arcade Basketball Game of Each Generation

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.

Since I offered up my picks for the five best sim basketball games of their generation in last week’s Friday Five, this week I thought I’d focus on the arcade games. While there are sim heads who won’t touch arcade basketball games, and conversely more casual sports gamers who greatly prefer them to the sim titles, there are a lot of people who have a healthy appreciation for both styles. I definitely count myself as someone who has enjoyed both types of basketball games over the years, and as such, I have my own picks for the best arcade hoops title in five distinct generations/eras.

As with last week’s list, I’ll emphasise that these picks are only my opinion, and it’s not my intention to present them as infallible, definitive, or indisputable. I’d like to think that I have an informed and reasonable take on the subject, of course, but lists like this are intended to start the discussion, not end it. I’m certainly interested to see if some of you have a different take, and if so, what your picks are. With that being said, let’s once again tip things off with the basketball video games of the 16-Bit era and earlier, and take it right through until the current generation.

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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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