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NLSC Podcast #431: Heroes in a Half-Court

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From courtside of the virtual hardwood, it’s Episode #431 of the NLSC Podcast!

The release of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge has demonstrated the popularity of retro-style gameplay with modern sensibilities. It leads us to consider how this could apply to the virtual hardwood, with Basketball Classics being a great example. We also lament the lack of a new NBA Jam title, and reflect on the shortcomings of the NBA Playgrounds games. Mention of Konami also sends us down the rabbit hole to discuss some of our favourite games from the company, basketball or otherwise. Our Lakers vs. Celtics Tournament will be tipping off soon, and we’re also keen to continue our co-op sessions on Parsec. In an update on our NBA 2K19 MyLEAGUE and NBA 2K14 MyCAREER games, we’re talking sliders, streaks, and the growing legend of Terry Hanson. This week’s mailbag features a discussion about the influence that playing real hoops has on basketball gaming, basketball book recommendations, and the best classic seasons to watch.

To get involved with the mailbag or to provide any feedback on the show, hit us up in the comments, reach out on social media, or post here in the NLSC Forum! For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki. You can also find the show on our YouTube channel, along with the rest of our video content. As always, thanks for tuning in, and go get buckets!

The Friday Five: 5 Reasons NBA Jam: On Fire Edition is the Best Jam Game

Welcome to another edition of The Friday Five! Every Friday I cover a topic related to basketball gaming, either as a list of five items, or a Top 5 countdown. The topics for these lists and countdowns include everything from fun facts and recollections to commentary and critique. This week’s Five is a list of five reasons that I rank NBA Jam: On Fire Edition as the best release in the NBA Jam series.

We really need another NBA Jam game. I know there were gamers that skipped the NBA Jam games by EA Sports, either because they were burned by previous non-Midway Jam titles, they didn’t trust or want to support EA, or a mixture of both. I understand having that stance, but frankly, you missed out on a couple of really good NBA Jam games! They were faithful to the originals, while also bringing something new to the table. It’s because of this that NBA Jam: On Fire Edition remains my pick for the best NBA Jam game to date.

I know that’s a big claim to make, especially when the original NBA Jam still holds up today. Tournament Edition was a fantastic follow-up to that, and though Midway lost the Jam moniker, NBA Hangtime was a worthy sequel to TE. NBA Showtime: NBA on NBC and NBA Hoopz were also fine games in Midway’s branch of the lineage; Acclaim’s titles, not so much. In short, there is some stiff competition for NBA Jam: On Fire Edition, yet I do believe that it stands above the rest. While EA were struggling with NBA Live by the early 2010s, they made great use of the NBA Jam license, creating the definitive Jam experience with NBA Jam: On Fire Edition.

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 2003 vs NBA Live 2004

Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 2003 vs NBA Live 2004

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! From retrospectives of basketball games and their interesting features, to republished articles and looking at NBA history through the lens of the virtual hardwood, Wednesdays at the NLSC are for going back in time. This week, I’m comparing NBA Live 2003 and NBA Live 2004, in a new edition of “Versus”!

Once again, I’ve gone a while between posting a new “Versus” feature for Wayback Wednesday. There is a reason for that, though. With so many retro basketball games and retro basketball gaming topics to cover, it can take a while to circle back to titles I’ve already talked about. I’d also prefer not to profile games for the first time with a direct comparison to another game, as that would get in the way of a comprehensive retrospective. However, it is fun and interesting to rank and rate old favourites, having had plenty of time to enjoy and reflect on them.

That brings us to NBA Live 2003 and NBA Live 2004, back-to-back releases in the Golden Age of NBA Live; or possibly the series’ second Golden Age, depending on how you rate NBA Live 2001 and NBA Live 2002. Among older basketball gamers, there’s a ton of nostalgia for both games. If you’re my age, you’ll remember them as fun games from early adulthood. If you’re slightly younger, they may have been your entry into basketball gaming! The question is: which game is better? I’ve broken up my arguments into five categories, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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NLSC Podcast #425: Sliding Back Into 1995, With Stildo33

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From courtside of the virtual hardwood, it’s Episode #425 of the NLSC Podcast!

Ken (aka Stildo33) returns to the show to talk about replaying the 1995 season in NBA 2K19 MyLEAGUE! In addition to a little trash talk, there are reflections on some of the favourite games so far, exciting upcoming matchups, and learning new skills on the virtual hardwood. We also talk about the importance of fine-tuning gameplay sliders, and some of the issues that NBA 2K19 had out of the box. A couple of ideas for future Parsec tournaments are also floated for your consideration! With the preview season of NBA 2K23 looming on the horizon, and the continued hope that EA Sports will return with a new basketball game at some point, we also touch on some of our Wishlist items.

To get involved with the mailbag or to provide any feedback on the show, hit us up in the comments, reach out on social media, or post here in the NLSC Forum! For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki. You can also find the show on our YouTube channel, along with the rest of our video content. As always, thanks for tuning in, and go get buckets!

NLSC Podcast #423: Heighten The Basketball Gaming Parabola

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From courtside of the virtual hardwood, it’s Episode #423 of the NLSC Podcast!

International Basketball 2009 may be one of the top three worst hoops games we’ve ever played, but on the bright side, it’s given us a new catchphrase! We also threw it way back this week by revisiting NBA Basketball for Intellivision, while having some more fun with NBA Live 2001 and NBA Hangtime over Parsec. In this week’s NBA 2K14 MyCAREER update, a two-time champion is traded, and Terry Hanson continues to impress. As for NBA 2K19 MyLEAGUE with the 1995 season mod, it continues to be a blast, with plenty of trash talk! The mailbag also returns this week as we discuss your suggestions for future content, as well as our Holy Grails of basketball video game collecting.

To get involved with the mailbag or to provide any feedback on the show, hit us up in the comments, reach out on social media, or post here in the NLSC Forum! For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki. You can also find the show on our YouTube channel, along with the rest of our video content. As always, thanks for tuning in, and go get buckets!

The Friday Five: 5 Presentation Options NBA 2K Should Have

Welcome to another edition of The Friday Five! Every Friday I cover a topic related to basketball gaming, either as a list of five items, or a Top 5 countdown. The topics for these lists and countdowns include everything from fun facts and recollections to commentary and critique. This week’s Five is a list of five presentation options that I’d like to see added to NBA 2K.

Since the early days of the genre, sim basketball games have made it a point to have presentation that resembles a real broadcast. From getting real commentators to call the action on the virtual hardwood, to studio shows and stats overlays, there’s been a constant push to include as much authenticity as the current technology will allow. Some of those presentation elements can be adjusted in the game options, such as the frequency of instant replays, muting the commentary, or toggling fun features such as slow motion dunks in the oldest NBA Live titles.

Indeed, NBA Live has had some great presentation features and options that NBA 2K should implement, but for whatever reason, has yet to do so. On top of that, there are several other ideas that would enhance presentation and provide customisation options that neither NBA Live nor NBA 2K has featured to date, and have rarely appeared (if at all) in other NBA titles in years gone by. These features may not be vital, but could nevertheless have an impact on our basketball gaming experience through adding more immersion, quality of life customisation, or just plain fun. Whatever the case, adopting these presentation options would be beneficial in future NBA 2K releases.

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Monday Tip-Off: Fantasy Concepts In Sim Games

Monday Tip-Off: Fantasy Concepts In Sim Games

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Join me as I begin the week here at the NLSC with my opinions and commentary on basketball gaming topics, as well as tales of the fun I’ve been having on the virtual hardwood. This week, I’m tipping things off with my thoughts on sim basketball games adopting fantasy concepts.

The concept of “sim” in basketball and sports gaming raises many questions. Just how much realism should a game strive for? For that matter, what is “sim”? Obviously it implies realism, but just how closely should it resemble reality? Does it mean accurate down to the last detail, or can it take some liberties for the sake of accessibility and enjoyment? It’s a balancing act that sim games have been attempting for decades now. From a gamer’s perspective, we can sometimes tailor the experience through the use of gameplay sliders, but they aren’t available in all modes.

Of course, when it comes to fantasy concepts in sim games, the issue goes beyond the action between the lines. Franchise modes are based on real aspects of the NBA, but they invite us to create our own reality with fictional results and player movement. When we place ourselves into the games to play out a career and participate in the connected online modes, it’s indulging a fantasy. Realism also goes out the window with the card collecting modes, where we can assemble fantasy lineups with players from different decades. Even the All-Time and All-Decade teams count as fantasy concepts in sim games! The question is: can we, or indeed should we, draw a line?

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Monday Tip-Off: My Basketball Video Game Collection (2022 Edition)

Monday Tip-Off: My Basketball Video Game Collection (2022 Edition)

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Join me as I begin the week here at the NLSC with my opinions and commentary on basketball gaming topics, as well as tales of the fun I’ve been having on the virtual hardwood. This week, I’m tipping things off with a look at my basketball video game collection, as of 2022.

Back in March, I tweeted out a photo of my entire physical basketball video game collection, with some follow-up screenshots of the digital releases I own. I’m proud of my collection and satisfied in how I’ve been able to amass it, so I was pleased with the reception. While collecting is something that I do for my own enjoyment – and create content for the NLSC, of course – I was naturally hoping that my fellow hoops gamers would be impressed and get a kick out of the photo. I wanted it to inspire nostalgia, intrigue, and yes, a slight touch of good-natured envy. I’d say mission accomplished!

Given the old maxim of a picture being worth a thousand words, I could just leave it at those Tweets. However, I would like to talk a little more about my basketball video game collection, and provide a comprehensive listing as it’s impossible to get every title to be clearly visible in one photo. There are also a few digital releases that I didn’t display in my follow-up screenshots, including a couple I neglected to mention since they’re standalone releases and not on a digital platform such as Steam, Xbox Live, or the PSN Store. Finally, it’s been almost seven years since I wrote about my basketball video game collection, and I’ve been able to make some exciting additions since then.

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NLSC Podcast #421: Arcade Basketball Games Are On Fire!

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From courtside of the virtual hardwood, it’s Episode #421 of the NLSC Podcast!

We love sim basketball titles, but we also have a great deal of affection for arcade games as well. Recent sessions with the underrated NBA Hangtime, and a brief stream of NBA Jam: On Fire Edition, lead us to reflect on some of the best and worst releases in the genre. As always, we also catch up on other games we’ve been playing over the past week, including NBA 2K22, NBA Showdown, and NBA 2K14. One of us has also added a true gem to their collection, leaving the other to feel a tad envious! In this week’s mailbag, we’re talking about our go-to plays in various basketball video games, and one-off hoops titles that deserved a sequel (or possibly even a series).

To get involved with the mailbag or to provide any feedback on the show, hit us up in the comments, reach out on social media, or post here in the NLSC Forum! For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki. You can also find the show on our YouTube channel, along with the rest of our video content. As always, thanks for tuning in, and go get buckets!

March Modness 2022 Tips Off Today

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It’s that time of the year again, so we’re tipping off our fifth annual March Modness! The event is a celebration of modding, and the modding community that we’ve built and maintained over the past 25 years. Naturally we support modding all year round, but we’ve nominated March as a time to get extra creative and productive!

As always, March Modness includes a giveaway. All you need to do is upload a new mod to the Downloads section with “March Modness” in the description, and you’ll go into the draw to win a copy of NBA 2K23 PC. The mod can be for any basketball game that can be modded, including retro titles. Full terms and conditions can be found below. Congratulations once again to Pep, the winner of last year’s giveaway!

Additionally, I’m taking this opportunity to announce a change to the way I post bulletins about recent uploads. For years now, I’ve been using the term “File Additions” for those bulletins, as it’s what our founders used when they first began maintaining a Downloads database back in the mid 90s. It’s something I’ve kept out of tradition, but in order to move with the times and remove any ambiguity, those posts are now going to be titled “Mod Releases”.

I’m looking forward to this being an exciting and productive March Modness. As always, I’ll be looking to get in on the fun myself with a few releases. The modding bug does bite from time to time, and this is obviously the month to indulge it. Stay tuned for those releases, and all of the great work that I’m sure is coming this month!

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NLSC Podcast #416: Three Games & An Island

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From courtside of the virtual hardwood, it’s Episode #416 of the NLSC Podcast!

In an exciting development, NBA Live 2001 enthusiasts Nate and Roger are on Parsec, which means a 2v2 showdown is in our future! Speaking of Parsec, our recent sessions have given us a new appreciation for a couple of often-criticised games in the NBA Live series. Our NBA Jam: On Fire Edition Tournament also wrapped up, and it ended in spectacular fashion. Dipping into our collection as we often do leaves us wondering: which three games would we take with us to an island we’d be stuck on indefinitely? We share our answers, and open up the mailbag to see which games the community would pick. With February drawing to a close, we also look ahead to March Modness.

To get involved with the mailbag or to provide any feedback on the show, hit us up in the comments, reach out on social media, or post here in the NLSC Forum! For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki. You can also find the show on our YouTube channel, along with the rest of our video content. As always, thanks for tuning in, and go get buckets!

The Friday Five: 5 Mistakes Old Games Made in Season Modes

The Friday Five: 5 Mistakes Old Games Made in Season Modes

Welcome to another edition of The Friday Five! Every Friday I cover a topic related to basketball gaming, either as a list of five items, or a Top 5 countdown. The topics for these lists and countdowns include everything from fun facts and recollections to commentary and critique. This week’s Five is a list of five mistakes that were very common in the Season modes of older basketball titles.

Disclaimer: just because basketball video games have come a long way, it doesn’t mean that we can’t criticise modern releases. It’s fair to respectfully point out issues and ways that they could improve, and to expect value for money as a consumer. With that being said, if it’s been a while since you dusted off a really old game, it’s easy to overlook just how far they’ve come. Broadly speaking, one of the most significant improvements to the genre has been establishing a standard approach to core modes such as Season, Franchise, Career, Card Collecting, and so on.

I know phrases such as “in their infancy” and “it was the Wild West!” are somewhat clich√©, but frankly, when basketball games were in their infancy, it was the Wild West when it came to how they designed certain features! EA Sports and Tecmo pioneered many of the design principles for modes based on the NBA season that have since become the standard approach. As such, if you revisit an old NBA Live or one of the NBA Playoffs games, or Tecmo Super NBA Basketball, you’ll find Season modes that clearly laid the foundation for modern titles. They had some drawbacks of course, and other games were also employing some rather unusual ideas in their Season modes.

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NLSC Rewind 2021

NLSC Rewind 2021

Welcome to the NLSC Rewind for 2021! It’s been another challenging year for many of us around the world, but fortunately, we’ve had basketball gaming to provide some much-needed distractions. Here at the NLSC, it’s been another year of great mod releases and basketball gaming discussion. We’ve also aimed to cover a wide variety of topics in our original content.

As always, it’s been our goal to cover both the positive and negative aspects of the games we play. From holding publishers accountable and criticising practices that impact our enjoyment, to celebrating the fun we’re having and brainstorming new ideas for future games, we’ve strived to be fair, thorough, informative, and hopefully entertaining. Above all, we want our original content to share interesting facts, ways to enhance your basketball gaming experiences, and advocate for our fellow gamers. Whichever mode and game that we each prefer, we should all get the most out of it.

This NLSC Rewind is a collection of “editor’s picks” for our 2021 content. Obviously, I encourage everyone to dig through our entire archives if you’re enjoying what you’re reading, watching, and listening to with our articles, videos, and podcasts. However, these recommendations represent content that I’m particularly proud of, and believe are worth a second look or listen; or a first one, if you missed them when they were originally posted! Seeing as how we’re celebrating our 25th Anniversary this year, I decided that I’d make 25 picks for each of our weekly features. As we prepare for a brand new year of basketball gaming, join me as I rewind 2021 here at the NLSC!

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Wayback Wednesday: The Replacements

Wayback Wednesday: The Replacements

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 players that served as replacements for missing stars.

“Hold on a moment”, I hear you say. “Didn’t you already cover Roster Players in a previous Wayback Wednesday feature?” I did indeed, and I do also link back to that article whenever I mention them! However, I’m not actually focusing on those old roster players today, except to note that yes, they did serve as the replacements for a handful of real players that couldn’t be licensed back in the 90s. Not every game made use of placeholders to fill in for absent stars, however. So, what did they do when they couldn’t include the likes of Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, and Shaquille O’Neal?

Enter the replacements: other players on the team that were promoted to the starting lineup in order to fill the void. This produced some interesting results, such as career bench players getting the starting nod, and the occasional player being slotted in at a position they rarely played. It also resulted in other players taking on the role of the team’s de facto star. It’s not something we need to worry about these days, but back in the 90s, it was a recurring phenomenon. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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NLSC Podcast #407: Christmas Special 2021

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Episode #407 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.

It’s our 2021 season finale, which means it’s time for a (slightly belated) Christmas special! We recap our recent Parsec sessions, which featured NBA Live 99 and NBA in the Zone 2. There’s also a matter with the Top 10 Plays of the Week that we feel the need to address. After that, it’s time for the listener mailbag! This week, we join our listeners in sharing some of our favourite Christmas-related basketball and basketball gaming memories, and special moments playing with friends and family. In the spirit of the season, it seems that the virtual hardwood has brought many of us closer to the people we love.

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.