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Wayback Wednesday: Tom Gugliotta & Basketball Video Games

Wayback Wednesday: Tom Gugliotta & Basketball Video Games

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 taking a look back at Tom Gugliotta and some interesting trivia regarding his career and appearances in video games.

There are some well-known examples of players whose history with basketball video games is interesting and unusual. It seems such a weird and unfathomable situation nowadays, but back in the 90s, Roster Players were frequently a necessity due to the absence of Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley, owing to them retaining the rights to their likenesses. Shaquille O’Neal was also briefly exclusive to NBA Live, and even David Robinson once required a stand-in. Of course, I also enjoy delving into virtual hardwood trivia concerning far more obscure players, such as Junior Harrington.

Now, on the scale of obscurity to all-time fame, Tom Gugliotta is probably closer to the likes of MJ, Chuck, Shaq, and The Admiral than he is to Harrington. That is to say, if you were to ask long-time basketball fans and history buffs, they’d be far more likely to recall Googs than Junior. With that being said, like so many players of yesteryear that were very good but not all-time greats, Gugliotta doesn’t get talked about enough. That’s unfortunate from a basketball standpoint, but his career also resulted in some fun NBA video game trivia. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Additions That Would’ve Greatly Improved Games

The Friday Five: 5 Additions That Would've Greatly Improved Games

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 additions that would’ve greatly improved specific basketball video games.

We’ve yet to see a truly perfect basketball video game. That’s not surprising since true perfection is an unrealistic goal, and we all have our own ideas as to what that would entail besides. We have had some fantastic sim and arcade basketball games though, with the NBA Live, NBA 2K, NBA Jam, and NBA Street series all offering up some candidates for the best hoops titles of all-time. However, much as many of the all-time great players have had a weakness or two, the best basketball video games are often missing a feature or mode that would’ve made them even better.

Interestingly, it’s not just the all-time best basketball video games that feasibly could have been improved by just one addition. There are some very good and even a few mediocre games whose overall quality and reputations would be greatly impacted by the addition of a key feature or mode. It might not quite push them into the upper echelon of virtual hardwood classics, but hypothetically, they suddenly become far more appealing and playable with one big addition. I’ve selected five hoops games of varying quality, and nominated a major addition – one per game – that I believe either pushes them closer to “perfection”, or results in the most significant improvement.

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NLSC Podcast #515: NBA Live 2002, Jam vs. Street, & Broadcast Views

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From courtside of the virtual hardwood, it’s Episode #515 of the NLSC Podcast!

Following up on last week’s discussion, we react to Take-Two’s shady defense of Virtual Currency as “fictions” that it can legally remove at any time. On a slightly contentious note (for the most part), in response to a post on our Discord, we weigh in on the NBA Jam vs. NBA Street debate. Which arcade hoops game do we believe is king? We also recap a co-op session of NBA Live 2002, and make some potentially controversial comparisons to NBA Live 2001. Joining the community for a discussion of our favourite camera angles leads us to declare our appreciation for broadcast views once again. In this week’s mailbag, we share how we’d handle microtransactions in a Triple-A release if it was our call.

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!

Monday Tip-Off: Original Hardware or Emulation?

Monday Tip-Off: Original Hardware or Emulation?

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 some thoughts on whether it’s better to play retro basketball games on original hardware, or via emulation.

My first foray into emulation actually happened around 1994, though I wasn’t too familiar with the term or concept back then. I was trying to get Commander Keen – a legendary platformer and true classic of vintage PC gaming – to run on an Archimedes Acorn desktop, using an official DOS emulator. I wasn’t nearly as computer savvy as I’d later become, so I failed in the attempt. I had more success a few years later when I was checking out one of the early Super Nintendo emulators for PC, which was also DOS-based. I recall feeling underwhelmed though, especially with the lack of audio.

These days, emulation has come a long way, to the point where the emulators for many consoles can mimic original hardware near-perfectly. Not only that, but they also have other enhancements including save states, media capture, visual filters, and so on. That’s led to some debate among retro gamers as to whether it’s preferable to play on original hardware or simply rely on emulation. Needless to say, the latter does raise some ethical and indeed legal questions, but assuming that you can play a game you own on the original hardware or an emulator, which method is superior? As far as the virtual hardwood is concerned, for me, it depends on my needs at any given time.

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The Friday Five: 5 Reasons I Won’t Stop Retro Gaming

The Friday Five: 5 Reasons I Won't Stop Retro Gaming

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 why I have no intention of putting a stop to my retro basketball gaming habits.

One of the best things that I’ve done to enhance my enjoyment of basketball gaming in recent years is to avoid the annual grind in MyCAREER, freeing up time to play some old favourites. Dee has obviously been a great influence in that regard, as we’ve connected to play a variety of classics over Parsec. It’s reminded me of how I used to enjoy going back to older games or sticking with one for more than a year, especially when I was disappointed with the latest release. Of course, my enthusiasm for retro basketball gaming has now made it tougher to spend time with newer games.

I have no regrets, though. I still gave NBA 2K23 and NBA 2K24 ample opportunity to impress, knowing that they might not, and that I had other options if they didn’t. To dust off a very old but nevertheless wise saying, I’ve learned to not put all of my eggs in one basket. I don’t feel defeated or robbed of a good time if the latest NBA 2K isn’t entirely to my liking. Beyond my interest in other genres, I have a huge collection of basketball games to fall back on if I’m itching to hit the virtual hardwood. While I do obviously have an interest in the future of basketball gaming, I’m finding plenty of reasons to return to old favourites, as well as seek out some new ones. Here are five!

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA in the Zone Retrospective

Wayback Wednesday: NBA in the Zone Retrospective

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 taking a look back at NBA in the Zone, developed and released by Konami.

The sim-arcade hybrid genre of basketball video games is one that I’ve really come to appreciate in recent years. I didn’t play many of them growing up, as I preferred NBA Live for its more realistic approach to the sim style, and NBA Jam for its definitive arcade experience. While I ultimately still prefer games that are firmly sim or arcade in their style of play, sim-arcade hybrid titles undoubtedly have their place. The best ones strike a fun balance between a realistic depiction of basketball, and exaggerating the action for looser, up-tempo gameplay that takes a few liberties with accuracy.

Because they occupy a middle ground between simulation and arcade games, there are a handful of games that could be considered sim-arcade hybrids. And 1 Streetball is definitely in the conversation, mixing 5-on-5 gameplay with some power-ups and slightly exaggerated dunks. NBA Live 2003’s wackier elements arguably make it a candidate, though it’s still mostly sim at its core. When I think of prime examples of sim-arcade hybrid games though, Konami’s hoops titles are what come to mind, and that includes NBA in the Zone. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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NLSC Podcast #513: Bringing Back An Alternative to NBA 2K

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From courtside of the virtual hardwood, it’s Episode #513 of the NLSC Podcast!

If we could bring back just one Triple-A release as an alternative to the NBA 2K series, what type of game would we choose: NBA sim, NBA arcade, street, or college basketball? This week we join the community in answering what is a very tough question! We also recap a session revisiting ESPN NBA 2Night, which despite some interesting features and great presentation, was not one of Konami’s better hoops titles. On the bright side, we played with an interesting New York Knicks team that was definitely in a transitional era. In this week’s mailbag, we’re talking about the players that got us into basketball, and our historical favourites on the virtual hardwood.

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 #510: Street Hoops & NBA 2K League Elitism

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From courtside of the virtual hardwood, it’s Episode #510 of the NLSC Podcast!

Are the NBA 2K League competitors actually the best NBA 2K gamers in the world? Both we and the community have some thoughts on that, as well as a ridiculous comparison to real NBA players. Meanwhile, a session with Street Hoops by Black Ops Entertainment has revealed it to be a hidden gem, as we had an absolute blast with it! We also discuss the importance of the unwritten rules of sportsmanship in basketball, and thanks to the NBA Live 2001 Legends, reflect on the real and virtual accomplishments of Keith Van Horn. Finally, since we shared our basketball gaming resolutions last week, this week we open up the mailbag to find out what the community has planned for 2024.

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 #509: Reflecting on Basketball Gaming in 2023

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From courtside of the virtual hardwood, it’s Episode #509 of the NLSC Podcast!

Happy New Year basketball gamers, and welcome to the first episode of the NLSC Podcast for 2024! We’re in the mood to make some basketball gaming resolutions for the new year, as well as reflect on some of our favourite content from 2023. We also join the community in discussing the basketball games that we spent the most time with last year, as well as the modes we were playing and other activities we enjoyed, including modding. Additionally, we share our thoughts on the new NBA Playgrounds game that’s been released on Roblox, and how it feels like a fall from grace for a once-promising series of arcade basketball video games.

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 2023 Year-in-Review

NLSC 2023 Year-in-Review

And so, we’ve come to the end of another year here at the NLSC! I’d like to thank everyone for supporting the NLSC throughout 2023, from the modders and frequent Forum users to everyone who checks out our original content, and of course our Patrons on Patreon for helping us to keep the lights on. We’ve been around since 1996 when our founders tipped everything off with their tools and mods for NBA Live 95 and NBA Live 96 PC, and as we’re still passionate about basketball video games, we intend to be around for some time yet! Obviously the internet has changed a lot since we were founded, but we’re grateful that so many people still see us as a destination for basketball gaming.

To that end, it was our pleasure to provide extensive coverage of the virtual hardwood here on the NLSC throughout 2023. In addition to covering any news and previews regarding the latest and upcoming iterations of NBA 2K, Dee and I produced a plethora of original content about basketball gaming. If I do say so myself, we make a great duo in that regard! We obviously co-hosted the NLSC Podcast, I continued to write multiple articles a week and try my hand at some more videos, and Dee produced a huge amount of videos for the NLSC YouTube channel, from highlight reels to the weekly Top 10 Plays. I can speak for both of us when I say that we had a blast creating that content!

Thus, as we get ready to enter 2024, we’re presenting our Year-in-Review here at the NLSC. Dee and I have made our editors’ picks of my weekly features, our podcast, our videos, and the Top 10 Plays, choosing our favourite ten of each to spotlight. Needless to say, we encourage you to browse the entire NLSC archives, but this is the content from 2023 that we’re most proud of. I’d like to thank Dee for being my co-pilot for another year, and I look forward to what we’ll be doing with basketball games in 2024. I’ll touch on that again at the end of the wrap-up, but before we get to that, here are both of our picks for our favourite articles, videos, Top 10 Plays, and podcasts throughout 2023!

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The Friday Five: 5 Interesting Basketball Game Comparisons

The Friday Five: 5 Interesting Basketball Game Comparisons

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 drawing some interesting comparisons between five pairs of basketball video games.

It’s difficult to make comparisons these days without stepping on anyone’s toes, or drawing pedantic complaints if the likenesses are imperfect, or esoteric. Consider the scorn that Phil Jackson received when he compared Steph Curry to Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf. Many fans sneered because Curry has reached greater heights than Abdul-Rauf ever did, putting up bigger numbers and achieving more fame and success. However, Jackson’s comparison was apt in the way that he meant it: their styles and the way they got shots off are very similar. He wasn’t saying the two were equals as players.

Comparisons are not always one-to-one, and they are not meant to suggest that the objects in question are identical. To refer to the old “apples and oranges” idiom, while there are many ways in which they aren’t comparable, apples and oranges are both fruit that grow on trees. Also, along with bananas, they’re a commonly recognised and popular fruit compared to, say, durians. My point is that while some of the basketball game comparisons I’m making here today may seem bizarre, there are interesting commonalities in their quality, approach, and vibe. I’m not saying that these games are completely alike, but rather in some ways, they’re oddly reminiscent of each other.

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NLSC Podcast #502: Hoop Land & NBA 2K24 Ennui

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From courtside of the virtual hardwood, it’s Episode #502 of the NLSC Podcast!

Koality Games has released a new version of Hoop Land for mobile devices, and having followed their progress reports in the NLSC Forum, we were keen to give it a try. After doing so, we’re hoping to see it come to PC via a Steam release! Unfortunately, we’re far less excited about both versions of NBA 2K24 right now, and based on the responses to this week’s community question – to say nothing of the lack of mods, highlights, and discussion – we’re not alone there. On the bright side, we’ve been having a blast with other games in our rotation including NBA Live 10 and NBA 2K14, and so spend some time catching up on our recent sessions.

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!

Halloween Hoops! Skeleton Crew in NBA Jam: OFE

Halloween Hoops! Skeleton Crew in NBA Jam: OFE

Happy Halloween, basketball gamers! We never need an excuse to play basketball games and share videos of what we’re doing on the virtual hardwood, but seasonal content is always fun. And since it’s the Spooky Season, I’m sharing a full game of NBA Jam: On Fire Edition in which I took on The Stickmen with the Skeleton Crew!

These two unlockable teams are part of a wide array of bonus content in NBA Jam: On Fire Edition, and the Skeleton Crew is obviously perfect for some Halloween fun. This game was played on the Real AI difficulty setting, in which the CPU ruthlessly counters your strategies, and throws them back in your face. It’s a stimulating challenge, but that doesn’t prevent me from producing some high-flying highlights. Indeed, not even the lack of a skull can prevent Headless Hank from punishing the rim and shattering the backboard! See for yourself.

You can find out more about Real AI and NBA Jam: On Fire Edition in my Wayback Wednesday video retrospective. Be sure to subscribe to the NLSC YouTube channel for more basketball gaming content, and as always, feel free to hit Dee and I up with suggestions for games that you’d like to see us play!

Monday Tip-Off: Set Trends, Don’t Follow Them

Monday Tip-Off: Set Trends, Don't Follow Them

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 some thoughts on basketball video games chasing trends in gaming, rather than doing their own thing.

I’m going to make a comparison here. Although I’m not a fan of Adam Silver and I have some gripes with his NBA, I won’t pretend that the late David Stern always got it right, either. Like many older fans, I rolled my eyes whenever he talked about the pipe dream of expanding into Europe; an idea that seemed like a logistical nightmare for a league in which teams play four to five games per week, and players can get traded wherever and whenever, whether they like it or not. In particular, I remember cringing when he once used the word “friendlies” when referring to exhibition games.

Obviously, those two words do mean the same thing in terms of sports. Of course, “friendlies” is commonly used in football (that is, association football, or soccer if you prefer) to describe a match that doesn’t count, and is more of a British/European term. Conversely, American leagues such as the NBA tend to use the word “exhibition” for such games. As an Australian, they’re interchangeable terms for me. As for Stern, he was clearly trying to sell the NBA to the European market and ingratiate himself by using a familiar term. I understood that, but I still cringed because it felt inauthentic. Basketball video games chasing trends instead of setting them reminds me of that.

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NLSC Podcast #500: NBA 2K10 & A Huge Milestone

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From courtside of the virtual hardwood, it’s Episode #500 of the NLSC Podcast!

We’re celebrating a huge milestone this week, as it’s the 500th episode of the NLSC Podcast! To mark the occasion, we’re dipping into the archives to find some classic clips from over eleven years of shows, from the original test pilot in 2010 to interviews with a couple of fantastic guests. We’ve had a ton of fun over the years, and we promise that we’re not done yet! We also recap a couple of sessions with NBA 2K10 PC that we played with the recently-released fixed official roster, and reflect once again on how the game is often overlooked due to the brilliance of NBA 2K11 the very next year.

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!