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Monday Tip-Off: That One Change Every Year

Monday Tip-Off: That One Change Every Year

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 how every year, there seems to be at least one change in basketball video games that many of us dislike.

It’s fair to say that we want to see change in basketball video games year-to-year; for the better, ideally! As much as we criticise the parts of games we don’t like, we have seen quite a few positive changes that have improved the overall on-court experience. Basketball games have come a long way, and it’s clear that some of our feedback has been taken into consideration by the developers. It always comes as welcome news when a major frustration is addressed in a new game, and the new approach allows us to enjoy it a lot more than its predecessor.

And then, there are the changes we don’t want to see. Everything was fine and the way we liked it, and suddenly, it’s drastically different. Sometimes it’s a matter of getting used to the change, but other times, it’s a pointless switch from something that was working and didn’t need to be touched. Whether it’s a major gameplay mechanic, a menu option, or something content-related, it’s a rare game that doesn’t have at least one noticeable change that won’t sit well with many of us. It may not completely ruin a game, and it may not be important to absolutely everyone, but it’s significant enough for a number of us to be bothered by the difference to the previous year’s release.

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The Friday Five: 5 Cancelled Games (Other Than NBA Elite 11)

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, other than the infamous NBA Elite 11, that were cancelled.

If we’re talking about cancelled basketball games, then NBA Elite 11 is obviously one that springs immediately to mind. I’m sure that everyone knows that story, but the short version is that the demo was poorly received and widely mocked due to both gameplay issues and the infamous “Jesus Bynum” T-pose bug. This led to the full version being pulled five days before release so that it could receive further polish, with the delay eventually becoming cancellation. It’s a disaster that’s set the NBA Live series back years, and while it’s a significant event, it’s also a very familiar tale.

To that end, I thought it’d be more interesting to talk about some cancelled games in a list that doesn’t include the obvious example of NBA Elite 11. That’s not to say that these games are obscure and their stories unknown, but at least a couple of them aren’t talked about all that much. Please note that I’m also excluding the recent examples of NBA Live 17/The Drive to NBA Live, NBA Live 20, and NBA Live 21, as they were either never really officially announced, or there isn’t much to say except EA decided that they weren’t fit to launch. I’d like to think that there are some interesting stories with these other cancelled games though, so let’s take a look!

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25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 07 Retrospective

25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 07 Retrospective

To mark the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live, we’re taking a look back at every game in the series with retrospectives and other fun content! This also includes re-running some features from our 20th Anniversary celebrations, with a few revisions. Whether you’re a long-time basketball gamer who grew up with NBA Live and are keen on taking a trip down memory lane, or you’re new to the series and want to learn about its history, we hope that you enjoy celebrating the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live here at the NLSC! Today, it’s a retrospective of NBA Live 07.

After NBA Live 06 proved to be a shaky start to a new generation, long-time fans of the series hoped it would bounce back with NBA Live 07. PC gamers who had yet to experience the disappointment of the new gen version were also hoping that their port would remain a quality product. Unfortunately, there would be disappointment all around. NBA Live 07 is still widely considered to be the worst game in the series, and there are plenty of reasons why it has that reputation. Although it corrected course by addressing the lack of depth, the on-court product is generally considered to be very subpar. Let’s take a look back at one of the most infamous releases in the series.

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Wayback Wednesday: 10 Longevity Records in Basketball Games

Wayback Wednesday: 10 Longevity Records in Basketball 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 ten longevity records players have set on the virtual hardwood.

With the Atlanta Hawks’ 2020 season officially over, Vince Carter has officially retired after 22 seasons in the league. The player once dubbed Half-Man, Half-Amazing, has certainly had a wholly amazing career. Beyond his breathtaking dunks, 360 layups, and other highlights, Carter set new marks for longevity, not only by playing the most seasons in NBA history, but also becoming the first player to appear in four different decades. Not bad for a player who briefly gained a reputation – albeit one that was somewhat overblown – for being fragile and constantly injured!

Needless to say, Vince Carter’s lengthy NBA career has set a few records in video games as well. However, he’s not the only player who holds some longevity-based distinctions on the virtual hardwood. I ran through these in Episode #329 of the NLSC Podcast, but I know that audio content isn’t for everyone, and it pays to have trivia like this written down as well. These records span many years of basketball gaming, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Familiar Faces in Strange Places (Part 3)

Wayback Wednesday: Familiar Faces in Strange Places (Part 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 taking a look back at even more NBA players who became familiar faces in strange places, and those stints in video games.

It’s time to once again look back at the various stints of NBA players that we may have forgotten, or at least don’t think about too often. We expect to see role players bounce around the league, as teams seek out their services to bolster their rosters. Although it’s getting more and more common to see perennial All-Stars changing teams in their prime as well as late in their careers, it’s still often a surprise, and seeing them in their new uniform takes some time to get used to. Funnily enough, photos of them wearing their old jersey eventually seem like the stranger image!

As I’ve noted before, in addition to photos, footage, and records in resources such as Basketball Reference, we’ve got another way of documenting familiar faces in strange places: video games. Fire up an old video game, and you’re bound to see at least a few players on teams you don’t remember them playing for, including some big names who were in the midst of a less memorable stint than one that usually comes to mind. I’ve got another ten examples to share today, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Times You Can Play Before The Main Menu

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 examples of times we could jump right into gameplay in basketball games, before we’ve even brought up the main menu.

Given all the modes and options that are available in basketball games, as well as the need to select teams before entering a game, a main menu has generally always come between the title screen and gameplay. That isn’t unique to the genre, of course. Most games can’t be played until you’ve reached the main menu and made some selections. Even most of the very early video games and classic platformers of the 8-bit era didn’t go immediately into gameplay. If nothing else, we were presented with basic options such as the number of players, or asked to press Start to get the ball rolling.

There are exceptions, of course. In a way, they’re the video game version of a cold opening for a TV show. It hasn’t been especially common in basketball video games, but there are titles that drop us right into gameplay before we ever see the main menu. Many of these instances only occur the first time we boot up a game (or if we reinstall it with no user data present), but a selection of games have allowed us to participate in some form of gameplay before the main menu is displayed. It’s not something that we usually consider vital to the experience, but they have been fun ideas that give us something to do, while showing off new tech and features. These include things like…

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Wayback Wednesday: Quick Strike Ballhandling

Wayback Wednesday: Quick Strike Ballhandling

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 Quick Strike Ballhandling, also known as Quick Strike Ankle Breakers.

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to call right stick dribbling controls one of the biggest, best, and most important advancements in basketball gaming. Although we were able to perform crossovers, spins, and other dribbling moves before Freestyle Control made its debut in NBA Live 2003, we were at the mercy of a button press as far as the specific move that was performed. Not only were we in complete control with Freestyle, we could perform moves on command that would’ve been far harder to implement using the old approach of face buttons for random dribbling moves.

As the years passed, EA Sports expanded on their player control concepts with ideas such as Freestyle Superstars, eventually dubbing their control scheme Total Freestyle Control. In the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 version of NBA Live 08 however, the controls were revamped once again. Freestyle Superstars was replaced by Go-To Moves, shooting went back to two buttons (a jumpshot and a combined dunk/layup button), and the dribbling mechanics were now called Quick Strike Ballhandling. Although it was a familiar system, it was more than just a new name. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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NLSC Podcast #323: But Will There Be Shoelace Physics?

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Episode #323 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Dee4Three and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

As The Last Dance draws to a close, 2K are cashing in with a new GOAT Michael Jordan card in NBA 2K20 MyTEAM, and classic Bulls gear in MyCAREER. There might be a way of getting all of those items, but are we willing to pay the price? Speaking of future purchases, the PlayStation 5 tech demo has given us a glimpse of what to expect from next gen. We consider what it might mean for basketball games, and whether the tech will be put to good use. That leads us to reflect on what it’s like to be in the older age bracket of the basketball gaming demographic, as well as whether it’s possible to enjoy a broken game. Our recent poll also sparks a discussion on different approaches to retro team roster mods.

What’s your take on this week’s topics? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as suggestions for topics that you’d like to hear us discuss in future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki.

The Friday Five: 5 Bizarre NLSC Forum Moments

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 reflects upon five rather bizarre moments in the history of our Forum.

The current NLSC Forum has been around since 2002, and the original boards were active for a few years before that. As with any online community, we’ve had our fair share of ups and downs, running gags and memes, highly contentious moments, and other fun times. When you’ve been around a community for a number of years, as I and a few others have been, there are moments where you mutter to yourself that you’re too old for this…stuff. Not only that, but looking at the drama that some people cause, you can’t help thinking that they’re also too old for that…stuff.

However, some moments are just too bizarre not to be enjoyable in a twisted kind of way. In some cases, they become part of the community’s collection of memes, or find themselves enshrined in the Hardwood Classics section of the Forum. It’s often said that everyone is brave behind a keyboard, and adopts a different persona online. Now, there is definitely some truth to that, but I also get the impression that some people are just as difficult in the real world as they are in cyberspace. With that in mind, I feel sorry for the people they interact with on a daily basis! Still, they have given us some amusingly bizarre moments to look back upon, as these examples demonstrate.

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Wayback Wednesday: International Cover Players

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 history of international cover players for various basketball video games.

Cover players are an aspect of basketball gaming that has become more important over time. The player on the box and the title screen may not always have much of an impact on the game beyond pre-order cosmetic items in career modes and a card in the team building modes, but they’re nevertheless a talking point. After all, the reveal of the cover player generally signifies the beginning of a new game’s preview season, tipping off weeks and months of discussion about what we’re hoping to see from an upcoming release.

As basketball games have increased in popularity, cover players have become selling points and an indication of a game’s brand strength, if not necessarily its quality. Both EA Sports and 2K Sports have sought to appeal to local markets with regional covers that feature a player from the country in question (or in a pinch, have some connection with said nation). They’ve resulted in the international editions of games becoming collector’s items due to their novelty, and are of course interesting trivia notes. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Players I Remember Because of Video Games (Part 4)

Wayback Wednesday: Players I Remember Because of Video Games (Part 4)

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 selection of players that I remember primarily because of video games.

It’s time for Part 4 in an ongoing series for Wayback Wednesday, in which I take a look back at players that I remember thanks to basketball gaming. I’ve joked about it a few times before in articles and on the NLSC Podcast, but I can’t remember a single thing about quadratic equations or pretty much anything else I learned in high school maths. However, I can still recall the “dunk from anywhere” code for NBA Jam Tournament Edition on SNES, the location of bonus barrels and DK coins in Donkey Kong Country 2 and 3, and a ton of quotes from classic episodes of The Simpsons.

Oh, and a bunch of lesser known NBA players from the 90s and 2000s. I may have also seen them play in real games, and basketball cards have also played a role in helping certain players to stand out in my mind, but playing video games (and in particular, creating roster updates for them) is what truly embedded them into my memory. As I said, I’ve got another list of ten players to share today, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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NLSC Podcast #319: It’s All About The Details

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Episode #319 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! This week, Dee4Three and I are catching up on recent news regarding MyTEAM and ESRB ratings for loot boxes, discussing our latest retro game pick-ups and what we’ve been playing, and a few other things that have been on our minds.

A Locker Code celebrating Mamba Day has provided everyone with a free, guaranteed Kobe Bryant card in MyTEAM. Unfortunately, issues with the card’s ratings underscore an ongoing problem with the mode. We discuss the importance of accuracy in details such as player ratings, Badges, and animations, and the need for variety and balance in cards. With Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnett going into the Hall of Fame this year, we also reflect on some other players who are worthy of induction. We also touch on the new ESRB ratings for loot boxes, and whether we think the change will make much of a difference. Discussing our recent retro game pick-ups and what we’ve been playing also leads us to talk about the appeal of college games, the quality of NBA 2K15, and a very controversial opinion about NBA Live 07.

Tune in below!

What’s your take on this week’s topics? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as suggestions for topics that you’d like to hear us discuss in future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki.

The Friday Five: 5 Outdated Details 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 list of five outdated details in basketball games.

It’s difficult for basketball video games not to include a few outdated details at launch. Roster cut-off dates mean that a game’s lineups will be at least slightly out of date by the time we get our hands on it. Obviously all games are eventually outdated as new players enter the league, returning players change teams, and teams introduce new branding. Mind you, it would be a rather short and uninteresting article if I simply said all hoops games have outdated details and left it at that. It would make for a decent April Fools gag, though.

Since April 1st has been and gone this year, and fell on a Wednesday besides, I’ll go ahead and compile a proper list. I will however avoid including any outdated details related to rosters since as I noted they’re inevitable, and often fixed through official updates. I’m also excluding old games that launched with previous season rosters, as well as lockout-affected titles. Instead, I’m focusing on other outdated details that were noteworthy at release, or in some cases, details that quickly became outdated due to events that occurred post-launch. They’re not necessarily game-breaking issues, of course, but they nevertheless stand out as interesting trivia notes.

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NLSC Podcast #317: The Perks of PC & The Merriness of Modding

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Episode #317 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! This week, Dee4Three and I are discussing modding projects we’re working on (and the joy that it brings us), the benefits of PC basketball gaming, and the recently revealed specs for the next generation of consoles.

March Modness may be over, but we’re still in the mood to mod! In addition to discussing projects that we’re currently working on, we talk about how important the modding scene has been to the PC version. Specifically, we note that it’s drawn gamers from consoles to PC, and made them aware of the perks of PC basketball gaming. We also reflect on satisfying modding discoveries, and how mods stand out in other original content. As the preliminary specs for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox Series X have been revealed, we also take the opportunity to look ahead to the next generation. The specs sound impressive – and very much like a gaming PC – but will it matter if design philosophies don’t change?

Tune in below!

What are some of your favourite mods? Do you game on both PC and console, or do you prefer one over the other? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as suggestions for topics that you’d like to hear us discuss in future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki.

Wayback Wednesday: Adam Morrison NBA Live 07 Commercials

Wayback Wednesday: Adam Morrison NBA Live 07 Commercials

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 commercials for NBA Live 07 featuring Adam Morrison.

Taken third overall in the 2006 Draft, Adam Morrison’s career was short, individually unspectacular, but yielded two championship rings as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009 and 2010. The 2006 NCAA scoring leader, WCC Player of the Year, and NABC Co-Player of the Year didn’t quite live up to the hype in the NBA, but he did become a fan favourite and an inspiration for several memes. In that regard, he ranks up there with the likes of Brian Scalabrine and Joel Anthony. Of course, when you think about it, that’s actually a rather disrespectful practice on our part.

After all, they were players who were good enough to play professionally, and make it to the NBA. To reduce their careers to a punchline is to sell short their hard work, not to mention the fact that they’re still better at basketball than 99% of the population. A knee injury derailed Morrison’s career in just his second season, an often-overlooked factor when people label him a bust. As I said, he entered the NBA with a lot of hype, and it’s why EA Sports tapped him to appear in commercials for NBA Live 07. Those happen to be some of my favourite trailers, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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