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The Friday Five: 5 Small Ways Games Went That Extra Mile

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 small ways that basketball games have gone that extra mile in their details.

The small details in basketball video games are a funny thing. It’s possible to obsess over them too much, to the point of nitpicking. Nothing makes us appear to be an unpleasable fanbase quite like overreacting to a minor error or missing detail that most people would never notice, and hardly ruins the entire game. At the same time, attention to detail is important, and we do notice when games go that extra mile in order to be fun and immersive. Even if it’s purely cosmetic, we’re likely to say “hey, that’s awesome” once we’ve seen it.

It may be a detail that we can barely see during gameplay, but it adds authenticity that we can appreciate when replays take us closer to the action. It may be functionality that improves the quality of the experience, or contributes to the atmosphere. In some cases, it may even be content that gets patched in, adding a level of detail that we didn’t expect. Whatever the case may be, the developers went that extra mile to make the game better in small ways. I’m sure we all have our favourite examples of little details that impressed us when we discovered them, and so today I’m sharing five of mine, in no particular order. Hats off to the developers for these efforts!

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NLSC Podcast #368: You Say Ancient, We Say Classic

NLSC Podcast Logo

Episode #368 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this weekly podcast that’s all about basketball gaming.

Picking up some extra copies of NBA 2K12 has revealed some interesting details, but we’re still searching for answers about a possible limited edition cover. Meanwhile, comments on a recent YouTube video underscore how NBA 2K21 Next Gen wasn’t the leap that many gamers were hoping for. Speaking of NBA 2K’s future, we discuss Visual Concepts’ recent acquisition of HookBang, and what it means for the series. We also have some thoughts on remarks from Sony’s Jim Ryan regarding backwards compatibility, and his dismissal of classic games as unplayable. In this week’s mailbag, we’re building our own arcade basketball game based on one of three classic titles, and recalling our experiences with Sony’s NBA series.

Join in the conversation in the comments below, or here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as mailbag questions and topic suggestions for future shows. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki. The show also comes out on our YouTube channel, so be sure to subscribe for future episodes and other video content.

The Friday Five: 5 Odd Create-a-Player Features

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 odd features that can be found in various Create-a-Player modes over the years.

One of the most basic staples of roster customisation in basketball games – and most sports games for that matter – is Create-a-Player. Whether you want to add a real player that’s missing from the official roster, insert your own avatar into the game, or spice things up with a fictional character, it’s there to indulge your creativity. Despite being a staple of roster editing, Create-a-Player has been missing from a few games, including NBA Live 14 through 16, and NBA Live 18 before a patch added it post-launch. Other than that, most games from the mid 90s onwards have included it.

Create-a-Player modes have usually offered a standard set of features as far as the ratings, bio data, and other attributes that can be assigned. As the graphics of hoops games have improved, so have the face creation tools. Generally speaking, apart from an option here and there for added depth, most 5v5 sim-oriented basketball titles have very similar Create-a-Player facilities. With that being said, there have been a few games with creation modes that have included some odd features and options, ranging from design choices and limitations to unexpected content. You know the drill: I’ve got five such examples to discuss, so let’s begin!

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NLSC Podcast #364: 10 Games To Last A Year

NLSC Podcast Logo

Episode #364 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this weekly podcast that’s all about basketball gaming.

After replaying Slam City with Scottie Pippen recently, we vow to dedicate a whole show to it…after we can defeat Fingers, the first opponent. With March Modness 2021 right around the corner, we look ahead to another celebration of modding, and some of our own projects. Seeing as how it’s a slow news week, we’re playing a game: the ten games we’d choose for a year in isolation, specifically five basketball and five non-basketball games. Which titles make our lists, especially once we start changing up the game with some new rules? In the mailbag this week, we’re talking about the Arcade1Up NBA Jam machine, and the current state of NBA 2K’s graphics.

Join in the conversation in the comments below, or here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as mailbag questions and topic suggestions for future shows. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki. The show also comes out on our YouTube channel, so be sure to subscribe for future episodes and other video content.

Wayback Wednesday: NBA Jam vs NBA Street

Wayback Wednesday: NBA Jam vs NBA Street

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 comparing the NBA Jam series to the NBA Street series.

It’s been over a year since I posted my first “Versus” feature, which compared The Jordan Challenge and NBA’s Greatest. My intention was for it to become a recurring feature, similar to my Familiar Faces in Strange Places/Familiar Places series. To that end, I’ve been sitting on a few ideas for other comparisons. Since I compared two modes in back-to-back releases in the same series for the first instalment, it only makes sense to go bigger for the second article. As such, today I’m comparing the two heavyweights of the arcade basketball scene: NBA Jam, and NBA Street.

There are many factors to consider here. There have been more NBA Jam games than NBA Street games, as well as a number of releases that were spiritual successors to NBA Jam under different titles, after Acclaim acquired the name from Midway. To that point, three different developers have released games under the NBA Jam brand, while every NBA Street game has come from EA Sports BIG. Nevertheless, I believe that all of the evidence must be considered, as we compare, contrast, and ultimately pick the winner out of these classic arcade hoops series. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Things NBA Jam Doesn’t Get Enough Credit For

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 things that NBA Jam doesn’t get enough credit for.

Following on from my articles about the things that NBA Live and NBA 2K don’t get enough credit for, this week I’m giving NBA Jam the same treatment. As with NBA 2K, that may seem strange as NBA Jam is still held in high regard and remembered quite fondly. When it comes to games from the 90s, NBA Live’s image has easily suffered more, due to its struggles dating back to the mid 2000s. Although there have been some forgettable NBA Jam games (mainly the ones made by Acclaim), the best titles – including the sequels under different names, like NBA Hangtime – are revered.

And yet, there are times when it feels like NBA Jam doesn’t receive the credit that it deserves. I’ve seen gamers say they don’t get what’s so special about it, either because they prefer sim games, or in some cases, that they’re fonder of NBA Street. It’s been nearly ten years since the last NBA Jam game was released, and I imagine there’s a large contingent of the current basketball gaming demographic that didn’t grow up with it as I and other 90s kids did. Whatever the case may be, NBA Jam should be appreciated for its impact on basketball gaming. In particular, I would suggest that NBA Jam unquestionably deserves credit for these five things.

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 09 & Fallout 3

Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 09 & Fallout 3

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 looking back at how NBA Live 09 led me to discover Fallout 3, and the way that the games are linked in my nostalgia for them.

I’m sure that some of you are thinking this is quite an unusual topic for a Wayback Wednesday feature. Of course, if you’re a long-time listener of the NLSC Podcast or a member of our Forum, you may well be aware that I’m also an enthusiastic fan of the Fallout series. Along with Bart vs. The Space Mutants, mentioning it on the podcast is something of a running gag. At the same time, my love of Fallout 3 in particular has a connection to basketball gaming. More specifically, when I reflect on Fallout 3, I’ll often associate it with NBA Live 09.

That may seem quite esoteric, but there’s a reason why the two games are linked for me. No, NBA Live 09 doesn’t exactly have any post-apocalyptic themes, and apart from basketballs being present as a junk/miscellaneous item in Fallout 3, it doesn’t have much to do with the hardwood, virtual or otherwise. Nevertheless, the two games are linked in my memory, and today I’m reflecting upon that connection. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Virtual Hooping With Non-Fans

Monday Tip-Off: Virtual Hooping With Non-Fans

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 virtual hooping with and against people who aren’t big fans of basketball.

As our community is obviously made up of people who are big fans of both real and virtual basketball, we don’t really look at hoops gaming from the point of view of people who aren’t into the sport. After all, basketball and sports games in general are – to some extent – aimed at a very specific crowd. Sim titles in particular are intended for the avid fans that are more likely to want a realistic depiction of the sport. That’s not to say they can’t be for everyone – I’m not a fan of gatekeeping – but their focus on authenticity and minute details generally appeals to the more hardcore hoop-heads.

That means despite their success and popularity, basketball games and other sports titles are still somewhat niche. To put it another way, many of us basketball gamers will also play games like Fallout, Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, Mario, Zelda, Mass Effect, and so on, but a majority of the gamers who play those titles aren’t necessarily interested in virtual hooping, or fans of real basketball for that matter. If anything, they’re more likely to enjoy an arcade title like NBA Jam as it’s easier to pick up and play, and has a broader appeal. Some non-fans will dabble with the sim titles as well though, and virtual hooping with them is often an interesting experience.

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Wayback Wednesday: Another Mistake Unnoticed For Decades

Wayback Wednesday: Another Mistake Unnoticed For Decades

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 another mistake that I’ve somehow managed to overlook for more than two decades now.

I won’t lie. When I realised I’d overlooked a mistake with Kevin Edwards’ portrait in the PC version of NBA Jam Tournament Edition for over twenty years, it blew my mind. You can’t imagine how many times I’ve fired up that game over the years, how many times I’ve cycled through all the teams’ rosters, and yet somehow failed to notice that he has Blue Edwards’ portrait instead. It didn’t click, even though I also own the Super Nintendo version of the game, and do recall Edwards having a different (and correct) portrait in that release.

Well, it happened again! This time, it was our own Eric (aka Q) that pointed out the mistake to me. The error can be found in NBA Hangtime, Midway’s successor to NBA Jam TE. I went back and double-checked just in case it had been fixed in the PAL version that I played, but no, the mistake is definitely there. As with Edwards’ incorrect portrait, it hardly ruins the game, but now that I’ve seen it, I can’t believe I overlooked it for all those years. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Expensive Basketball Games to Collect

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 lists five of the most expensive basketball games that collectors can buy.

For the serious collector, retro video games can be an expensive hobby. There are some rare titles that don’t come cheap, and among them, you’ll find a few basketball games. Because licensing and likeness rights make remakes and re-releases highly unlikely when it comes to hoops games, anyone who wants to own a legal copy of these rarities will have to search high and low, and pay a hefty price. One exception is Street Hoop for Neo Geo. While original copies can still demand a large sum, it has since been re-released digitally on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.

Such is the benefit of a game that doesn’t feature any licensed players. Of course, the most widely released NBA games usually aren’t expensive to track down and acquire, unless they’re in mint condition. Annual sports games aren’t big money-makers on the second hand market, so with the exception of PC releases of NBA 2K being removed from Steam, older basketball games are readily available (and affordable). As I said though, there are a few rare hoops titles that are difficult to find, and quite expensive to obtain when you do locate a copy. I fancy myself a collector of basketball video games, but I’d need to be much wealthier to consider picking up these expensive titles.

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Wayback Wednesday: The ABA in Basketball Video Games

Wayback Wednesday: The ABA in Basketball 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 taking a look back at how the ABA has been represented in basketball video games.

Despite its influence on the NBA and the sport in general, the American Basketball Association doesn’t have a lot of representation on the virtual hardwood. It makes sense as the National Basketball Association became the dominant “brand” when it exploded in global popularity in the 80s and 90s, by which point the ABA had long been absorbed in the 1976 merger. Although it’s not exactly forgotten, its history is somewhat glossed over in favour of celebrating the NBA’s heritage. Of course, that’s not altogether surprising; as the old saying goes, history is written by the winners.

Still, given that the NBA does pay homage to the ABA and adopted some of its ideas including the three-point line (though Abe Saperstein’s American Basketball League did it first), it’s strange that it doesn’t have much of a presence in video games. The ABA had been gone for around two decades when I was getting into basketball and basketball video games, but I recognise its importance and would love to see it celebrated in gaming as well. What have we seen so far? Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Hangtime Retrospective

Wayback Wednesday: NBA Hangtime Retrospective

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 NBA Hangtime.

One of the benefits of Wayback Wednesday is that eventually, everything becomes “retro” enough to talk about. As it is, I’ve bent the rules slightly with some more recent games from time to time, but generally speaking, I’ve preferred focusing on titles that are several years old. To that end, I’ve tried to cover many of the classics before touching on more recent nostalgia. However, there are several titles from the early days of basketball gaming that I still haven’t covered, but definitely mean to get to. NBA Hangtime is just one of the games that are overdue for a retrospective.

Perhaps it’s only fitting that I’ve yet to cover the game, going on five years of running Wayback Wednesday features. As popular as it was with basketball gamers in its day, it does tend to be overlooked when we discuss the best arcade hoops titles. It was a strong follow-up to NBA Jam Tournament Edition – one of my personal favourites – and a game that I really enjoyed on the Nintendo 64. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Landmark Basketball Games of the 2010s

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 basketball games that were landmark releases during the 2010s.

It’s the final Friday Five of 2019, and indeed, the final Friday Five of the decade! As the 2010s draw to a close and a new generation looms on the horizon, it feels like a good time to reflect on the decade that was in basketball gaming. Originally, I was going to compile a Top 5 countdown of the best basketball games of the decade, but it’s difficult not to omit some worthy candidates in a list of five. It’s also potentially a very boring countdown, given NBA 2K’s dominance and NBA Live’s struggles over the past ten years. The more I thought about it, the less appealing the idea became.

As such, I’ve decided to talk about landmark releases, as there have been a handful of those during the 2010s. That may sound like a distinction without a difference, but to me, a landmark game doesn’t necessarily need to be one of the best or the absolute pinnacle of its genre; just one that had a great impact and was very influential. Of course, there is some overlap as the games I’m listing here are great releases and could be candidates for a “Best Basketball Games of the Decade” countdown, but the point is that wherever you rank them, there’s no denying their importance and effect. These games represent important milestones in basketball gaming over the past decade.

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The Friday Five: 5 What If Scenarios in Basketball Gaming

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 gets hypothetical, as I consider five “What If” scenarios in basketball gaming.

Even though we shouldn’t tie ourselves up in knots dwelling on the past, it’s hard to resist the allure of a fascinating “What If” scenario. What if Michael Jordan didn’t retire in 1993? What if he never returned in 1995, or in 2001? What if the Boston Celtics had won the Draft lottery in 1997? What if the Oklahoma City Thunder had never traded James Harden, or remained the Seattle SuperSonics? What if LeBron James had never taken his talents to South Beach? For each of these scenarios, we can debate and speculate as to how history would differ in both outcomes and perspective.

The real NBA provides us with plenty of “What If” scenarios, as there are so many events that have the potential to be pivotal: trades, free agent signings, lottery results, injuries, clutch shots, and fateful decisions in crunch time of the biggest games. For the most part, the history of the virtual hardwood goes hand in hand with the general improvements and progression of video games as a whole, but a few big moments – as well as a few things that didn’t happen – have shaped the hobby as we know it. This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the twists and turns that basketball gaming may possibly have taken, but they are five “What If” scenarios that I find interesting.

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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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