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Tag Archives: NBA Jam

Monday Tip-Off: Music in Basketball Video Games

NBA Live 19 Mixtape

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 few thoughts on the role that music plays in the basketball gaming experience.

One of the most recent patches for NBA Live 19 added a new song featuring Jadakiss, further demonstrating that all kinds of new content can be added post-release these days. Reactions to the new song can basically be broken up into three main responses. If you dig the track, it’s cool to see and hear it in the game. If it’s not your sound, you might grumble about the lack of “real music” among the tracks. If you don’t have any strong feelings about the song, you’ll likely be largely indifferent, except perhaps for some frustration that it didn’t constitute a more significant addition or update.

For most basketball gamers, the soundtrack ultimately doesn’t make or break a title. The action on the virtual hardwood is of much greater importance; you can always mute the soundtrack and put on your own music, but you can’t always find a way to enjoy the experience when there are significant gameplay flaws, or the modes are lacking. Nevertheless, in its own way, music has been an important part of basketball gaming over the years. It’s easy to think of it as nothing but background noise, but it does subtly influence our opinions of games, and shapes our nostalgia for them. In some cases, it can even affect us beyond our view of the games themselves.

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Wayback Wednesday: Barkley Shut Up and Jam!

Barkley Shut Up and Jam! 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 Barkley Shut Up and Jam (officially titled Barkley Shut Up and Jam!).

Whenever someone or something is successful, you can be certain that a bunch of imitators will spring up. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but from the standpoint of a consumer, it usually leaves us with a marketplace full of knock-off products that don’t match the original in quality. This phenomenon occurs quite often in video gaming, whenever a revolutionary title bursts onto the scene. In basketball gaming, few titles have had the same impact as NBA Jam, and the game that defined the subgenre of arcade hoops has inspired many imitators over the years.

These NBA Jam-style games have varied in quality. None have matched the games that inspired them, but a few have been solid in their own right. Others fell well short of replicating the fun arcade basketball action that NBA Jam pioneered. Since today is Charles Barkley’s 56th Birthday, I’m profiling an NBA Jam clone that he endorsed: the more aggressively titled Barkley Shut Up and Jam! It’s a game that you may be familiar with if you grew up in the 90s, but does it hold up as the original NBA Jam games do? 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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Monday Tip-Off: What Actually Ruins Basketball Video Games?

Victor Oladipo in NBA 2K19

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 few thoughts on the matter of what actually ruins basketball video games, and what are really more minor gripes.

Having been a part of the online basketball gaming community for over twenty years and admin of the NLSC for going on eighteen, I’ve both seen and taken part in some spirited discussions about the hobby. Our conversations about basketball video games have run the gamut from excitedly positive to furiously negative, depending on the issue and the quality of any given title. Given that we all have different tastes and expectations of basketball video games, our opinions will differ when it comes what will ruin our experience on the virtual hardwood. That’s fine, and to be encouraged!

Of course, it’s easy to exaggerate, especially when a pet peeve is involved. I recall one Forum member fuming over the use of the word “City” on the team statistics menu in NBA Live 2001. As they correctly pointed out, teams such as the Warriors, Jazz, and Pacers all take their names from their state rather than their city, making that label inaccurate. It’s a valid point, but a minor detail that was correct for most of the teams, and a criticism that paled in comparison with other issues in NBA Live 2001. Such issues are worth pointing out, but as we compile our Wishlists, it’s important that we prioritise problems that can ruin basketball video games, ahead of minor annoyances.

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The Friday Five: 5 Most Significant Years 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 lists what I feel are the five most significant years in the history of basketball gaming.

2019 is upon us, and as always, I’m hoping that it’ll end up being a fantastic year for basketball gaming! Hopefully, we’ll be able to get a lot of enjoyment out of the 2018 releases for the next eight or nine months, and then get our hands on even better titles to close out the year. While the success of basketball games ultimately rests with their respective developers, we shouldn’t underestimate the impact that we can have as a community. As such, it’s important that we speak up with constructive feedback, so that we can do our part in making 2019 a big year on the virtual hardwood.

There have been quite a few milestone years for basketball video games over the past three decades. They’ve marked significant improvements within the genre, through the release of many memorable games that have gone down as classics. Of course, there are also years that have been significant in terms of basketball gaming for far less positive reasons. As we tip off a new year and hope for the best when it comes to the future of basketball gaming, I feel there’s value in looking back at the road that hoops games have travelled. After all, it’s essential that forthcoming games not only build upon the success of their predecessors, but also avoid some of their pitfalls.

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The Friday Five: Top 5 Developer Cameos 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 countdown of the Top 5 developer cameos in basketball games.

The first video game Easter egg dates back to 1979, when Warren Robinett added a means of accessing a hidden screen in Adventure for Atari 2600, which displayed the message “Created by Warren Robinett”. At the time, Atari did not give credit to any of their developers for fear of having to negotiate expensive salaries for well-known and highly regarded designers, and Robinett’s Easter egg was his response to that policy. Since then, video games have come to credit their design teams, and these days, key developers are well-known to gamers, and often interact with us.

Of course, the credits screen isn’t the only place that developers have had a presence in their own games. Several basketball games have included secret unlockable bonus teams featuring members of the development team, though the practice has largely been phased out in recent years. We still see developer cameos in other areas of the games though, as they lend their names (and sometimes faces) to fictional coaches, NPCs, and generated rookies. They’ll also pop up in a few other places outside of the credits. Playable or not, developer cameos have provided some amusing moments in basketball games, and this week, I’m counting down my picks for the top five.

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Jam TE PC No Points Challenge

Alonzo Mourning dunks in NBA Jam Tournament Edition PC

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 on a retro basketball gaming challenge with the PC version of NBA Jam Tournament Edition.

It’s been far too long since I made a video feature, despite my intention to produce more video content this year. Better late than never though, as I had a fun idea for this week’s Wayback Wednesday. Whenever I played NBA Jam Tournament Edition solo back in the day, I tended to play with Tag Mode off, and scored most of the team’s points with the player I was controlling. However, playing point guard for our Pro-Am squad in NBA 2K has given me a taste for racking up assists, which left me to wonder: can I win a game of NBA Jam TE with my CPU teammate scoring all of our points?

I fired up my old favourite, and gave the No Points Challenge a shot. Let’s take a look back…way back…

Catch it here on our YouTube channel if you can’t see the embedded video, and while you’re there, be sure to subscribe! With any luck, I’ll be able to produce some more videos in the not too distant future. I’ll probably also look to upload some excerpts from the NLSC Podcast – which will also be returning soon – so stay tuned for that. I may also tackle some other retro basketball gaming challenges for future Wayback Wednesday features, so if you have any suggestions in that regard, feel free to post them in the comments below!

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The Friday Five: 5 Features That Are Older Than You Think

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 features in modern basketball games that are older than you may realise.

We’ve seen some really cool features in basketball video games over the past couple of generations. Extensive historical content, brilliant presentation, and innovative approaches to modes, have all continued to push the basketball gaming experience further and further. Not every idea pans out, and there are always some of us who prefer an old school approach when it comes to certain features, but the amount of innovation and creativity is still very impressive. Of course, not all of those concepts and features are necessarily brand new ideas.

As I’ve discussed in many Wayback Wednesday features, there was an impressive amount of innovation in several early basketball video games as well. Modern tech has allowed developers to push the envelope even further, but it’s interesting and sometimes surprising when we look back and see that certain features were attempted many years ago, with varying degrees of success. That isn’t a bad thing, as good and creative ideas should be revisited when the technology allows them to be even better, perhaps even the way that they were originally envisioned. Those original attempts do deserve credit though, as they demonstrate that some features are older than we think.

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NLSC Podcast – Episode #262 (Namo Gamo Interview)

NLSC Podcast Logo

Episode #262 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! This week, I’m presenting my interview with Josh and Dave from Namo Gamo, in which we talk about their fantastic retro-oriented PC game, Basketball Classics! We also talk about the process and difficulty of video game design, some of our favourite NBA memories, and a lot more.

It was a really fun interview, and I very much enjoyed getting some insight into an awesome game that already feels very polished, even in Early Access on Steam. We’ve discussed Basketball Classics in previous episodes of the NLSC Podcast, and will definitely have more coverage of the game moving forward. In the meantime, I’m sure you’ll enjoy my chat with Josh and Dave.

Click Play to listen to the show!

Have some thoughts on the latest episode? Got a mailbag question or topic suggestion for the next show? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki.

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Monday Tip-Off: Time to Light the Fire on a New NBA Jam

A roster update added Kyrie Irving to NBA Jam: On Fire Edition

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 few thoughts on why it’s time EA Sports brought out another NBA Jam game.

Although I’m a long-time fan of sim-oriented basketball games, I’m also a big fan of NBA Jam from back in the day. It’s something that I’ve mentioned several times on the NLSC Podcast, and it’s likely quite evident from all the times that I’ve covered a topic related to NBA Jam in Wayback Wednesday features. When the possibility of a brand new entry in the series was seemingly hinted at earlier in the year, I compiled a list of things that I believe a new NBA Jam game should have. As much as a new NBA Street game would be great to have, I’m still partial to seeing another Jam title.

Not only do I believe there is still a market for the game, but it feels like the time is ripe to bring back NBA Jam. The success of the original NBA Playgrounds last year has rejuvenated interest in the genre, though it arguably never went out of vogue in the first place. More importantly, we now know that its sequel – freshly renamed NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 – will be published by 2K Sports. With NBA Playgrounds joining the “2K family“, I’d love to see EA Sports resurrect the classic arcade property that it owns the rights to. With 2K going all in on an arcade hoops title in addition to their long-running sim game, it’s time for EA to light the fire on a new NBA Jam.

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Monday Tip-Off: The Self-Destruction of NBA Playgrounds 2

Kevin Durant shoots in NBA Playgrounds 2

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 further thoughts on NBA Playgrounds 2, and how the game appears to be self-destructing before it’s even released.

Back in May, I wrote an article discussing the opportunity that NBA Playgrounds 2 had to become the definitive arcade basketball game of the current generation. In the immediate wake of the game’s indefinite postponement, such a suggestion still felt somewhat plausible. As the weeks and months have passed, however, it’s starting to feel laughable. We haven’t heard a single thing since the game was postponed, and despite vague promises in the game’s official Facebook group, there’s little to back up the idea that “good things come to those who wait”.

Right now, Saber Interactive is insisting that the game isn’t cancelled, and that the release was pushed back for positive reasons. While that may ultimately turn out to be true, their silence is not inspiring confidence. Gamers are starting to feel sceptical and cynical, rather than anticipating an announcement that’s still “coming soon”. While the game may indeed come out, it’s going to have a tough time living up to the hype and expectations set by its mysterious delay. Even if it turns out to be an improvement on the first NBA Playgrounds and a solid game, the opportunity to become the arcade basketball game of this generation may have slipped through Saber’s fingers.

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Monday Tip-Off: Nostalgia in Basketball Gaming

Vince Carter dunks in NBA 2K11

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 few thoughts on nostalgia in basketball gaming.

Nostalgia is a powerful thing. Deconstructing it as a concept is a little beyond a site dedicated to covering basketball video games but suffice to say, experts who know a lot more about psychology and sociology than I do have identified both positive and negative aspects of nostalgia. Nevertheless, I’d say that for most of us, it’s a healthy indulgence of our old favourites, whether it’s video games, television shows, films, music, sporting moments, or whatever. It’s often fun to reminisce, not to mention good fodder for discussion and debate.

Basketball games appeal to our nostalgia with retro content such as historical teams, but old hoops games themselves also hold a certain appeal. It’s fair to say that many of us are nostalgic for the titles we grew up playing; I know I am, which is why I enjoy producing my weekly Wayback Wednesday feature. We also hold up the best releases from yesteryear as a benchmark for new games, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, we do want to see basketball games continue to improve, especially when it comes to the annual releases. However, it is possible to get caught up in nostalgia, judging new games unfairly and exaggerating the quality of older titles.

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The Friday Five: 5 Hopes for NBA Playgrounds 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 breakdown of the main hopes that I have for NBA Playgrounds 2.

Originally set for release next week on May 22nd, NBA Playgrounds 2 has now been delayed to an unspecified date. While some basketball gamers have expressed their excitement about a follow up to last year’s title, others aren’t so thrilled. Some gamers feel that it’s coming too soon after the original, and are unhappy that support for the first NBA Playgrounds is ending with a few unfulfilled promises. Others simply didn’t care for the first game at all, and feel little incentive to give its sequel a chance. The indefinite postponement likely doesn’t allay their concerns or scepticism.

Even if the delay turns out to be for the best as Saber Interactive are insisting, NBA Playgrounds 2 is going to be a tough sell for some gamers. It’s going to take a quality release to win gamers over, with clear improvements that wouldn’t be possible via a patch. Whatever has led to the delay will also have to be a big deal. The previews have been somewhat promising so far though, and I do believe that NBA Playgrounds 2 has a great opportunity to become the definitive arcade hoops game of the current generation. There are a few things that it must do in order to achieve that however, which I’m outlining in the form of five hopes ahead of its eventual release.

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Wayback Wednesday: Arch Rivals Retrospective

Arch Rivals 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 Arch Rivals.

When you think of arcade basketball video games by Midway, the titles that will most likely spring to mind are the original NBA Jam, its follow-up NBA Jam Tournament Edition, and NBA Hangtime. That stands to reason as they are some of the best games of their genre, but NBA Jam wasn’t actually Midway’s first attempt at making a foray onto the virtual hardwood. In 1989, four years before the debut of the original NBA Jam, Midway released Arch Rivals: a two-on-two basketball game with up-tempo gameplay, and a very casual approach to the rules of the sport.

Although not an official part of the NBA Jam lineage, Arch Rivals can certainly be considered a forerunner to Midway’s more famous hoops game. Indeed, while NBA Jam is usually (and rightfully) credited as defining many of the aspects which we’ve come to associate with the genre of arcade basketball games, Arch Rivals is arguably the game that pioneered them. After all, while relatively subdued compared to the games that followed, Arch Rivals stands as their obvious inspiration. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Investigating NBA Jam TE’s Ratings

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 ratings in classic NBA Jam games, specifically the PC version of NBA Jam Tournament Edition.

While playing College Slam for last week’s Wayback Wednesday feature, I noticed something interesting about the individual player ratings. Since the generic players can be edited, there is a cap on their ratings to prevent you from maxing them out at nine in each category. Interestingly, the cap varies from player to player, which basically ensures that at least one player stands out as the star of the team with better all around ratings or high ratings in a few categories, while other players are capped at a lower amount of ratings points, establishing a hierarchy and balancing the squads.

Thinking back to some of the unusual ratings that I’ve noticed in the original NBA Jam games, I began to wonder if a similar approach had been taken in those titles, and whether it could account for some of the ratings that seemed too high or too low. I fired up the PC version of NBA Jam Tournament Edition to make a few calculations and comparisons, and what I discovered was quite interesting. There does seem to be a method to the ratings, and I’m not sure if it’s ever really been explored, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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