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NLSC Podcast #532: How We Got Hooked On Basketball Games

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From courtside of the virtual hardwood, it’s Episode #532 of the NLSC Podcast!

Which basketball video games made you fall in love with the genre? This week, we join the community in reminiscing about the titles that got us hooked on the virtual hardwood, our go-to teams and players, and some of the special memories that we made with them. This includes sharing some stories about fake articles based on our seasons, and an unlikely comeback for a Boston Celtics legend during the 1995 campaign in NBA Live 95 PC! Speaking of the Celtics, we also share a few thoughts on the 2024 NBA Finals, which leads us to recall some of the underdog Boston teams from the mid-to-late 90s and early 2000s, and discuss notable moves and Draft picks the team made during their rebuilding attempts.

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: A Requiem for ICQ

Monday Tip-Off: A Requiem for ICQ

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 requiem for ICQ.

Alright, so this topic isn’t strictly related to basketball gaming, but hey, it’s my column and I’m essentially the editor-in-chief here, so who’s going to stop me? Besides, ICQ is certainly relevant in the history of our community, as plenty of people who were around in the early days – me included – used it to chat with each other. Indeed, for those of us who were online in the late 90s, ICQ was likely one of our first instant messaging clients along with AOL Instant Messenger, aka AIM. I’m guessing that most of us haven’t used the program in years, but ICQ has remained active as of 2024.

Until now, that is. On May 24th 2024, it was announced on ICQ’s official website that the service will be shut down on June 26th, after almost 30 years. As someone who used ICQ back in the day, I’m compelled to become the latest person to eulogise this vestige of 1990s internet. Considering that we’ve also been around since 1996 and will now outlast ICQ, it also has me thinking about the passage of time; what’s come and gone, and what the internet has gained and lost over the years. I realise that this isn’t Wayback Wednesday, but nevertheless, I wanted to reminisce about ICQ and reflect on its impressive longevity, as well as my nostalgia as an Elder Millennial.

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The Friday Five: 5 Basic Features We Take For Granted

The Friday Five: 5 Basic Features We Take For Granted

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 basic features in basketball video games that we take for granted.

There are a number of basic features in a modern basketball game that have become firmly entrenched as essential, at least if you want the game to be good! The genre has come a long way, and even though I still have tremendous fondness for the early classics, I’m also aware of their shortcomings. Of course, many of the basic features that were once innovations did come along in the mid to late 90s, so we’ve had them for decades now. To that point though, it’s all too easy to take some of those basic features for granted, especially if you didn’t grow up with the more primitive titles.

“Primitive” is the operative word here. When video games as a whole were in their infancy, those first steps towards what we have now did feel like huge strides. On top of that, technical limitations meant that games couldn’t have the same level of depth and detail as they do now, or even a couple of generations ago. Nevertheless, it’s still interesting to look back at some early basketball video games – as I obviously enjoy doing for Wayback Wednesday – and note how some of the basic features that we now take for granted are nowhere to be found. This doesn’t mean that we can’t and shouldn’t criticise modern games, but it’s a reminder of the progress that’s been made.

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NLSC Podcast #530: Replaying NBA History With Modern Gaming Tech

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From courtside of the virtual hardwood, it’s Episode #530 of the NLSC Podcast!

If a basketball video game featuring modern technology but a past setting – from rosters to modes to presentation – was ever to be released, which year would you want it to be? This week, we join the community in sharing our choices of legendary seasons to re-live on the virtual hardwood. We also react to the announcement of NBA Superstars, an upcoming arcade basketball game in the style of NBA Jam. What do we make of the gameplay in the trailer, and can it fill a void in the basketball gaming space? We also discuss having interactions with former NBA players on social media – both positive and negative – and provide a PSA for our fellow basketball gamers who may be having a rough time right now.

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!

Wayback Wednesday: The Jail Blazers & Video Games

Wayback Wednesday: The Jail Blazers & 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 the “Jail Blazers” era of the Portland Trail Blazers, and their presence in basketball video games.

When my cousin and I were looking to move on from our 1995 Season in NBA Live 95 PC and dive into the all new Franchise mode in NBA Live 2000, we obviously had to choose a team to play with cooperatively. In the interest of neutrality, we opted not to use either of our favourite teams (the Chicago Bulls and Seattle SuperSonics). After discussing it on the phone – this was the year 2000, after all – we ultimately went with the Portland Trail Blazers, and agreed on a few trades. I set everything up ready for his arrival in the school holidays, and we won the title playing a 28-game season.

It’s one of my favourite memories, both of basketball gaming and hanging out with my cousin as a teenager, but why the Portland Trail Blazers? Neither of us had an attachment to the club, and there were other teams that could’ve been just a fun. Well, while the off-court incidents that branded those early 2000s Trail Blazers the “Jail Blazers” may have caused a number of legal headaches and chemistry problems in real life, on the virtual hardwood, they had some deep rosters that were enjoyable to play with, as well as reshape with trades. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: 90s Teams in NBA Live 2002

Wayback Wednesday: 90s Teams in NBA Live 2002

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 revisiting NBA Live 2002, and creating some makeshift 90s teams.

Minimalist modding has become a staple of my retro gaming. It’s a way to indulge nostalgia in multiple ways: the mechanics and aesthetics of my chosen game, the teams that I assemble, and the process of modding. I do also enjoy simply playing with the default rosters, or a roster update set in the same season as the game, for a more authentic step back in time. However, the creativity of minimalist modding so often steers me towards discovering what I can do with the content that’s available in any game that I’ve chosen to revisit.

In games such as NBA 2K6 and NBA Live 10, it’s difficult to go back to the 90s with any makeshift classic teams, at least without creating a bunch of players. After all, by that point, most the stars and role players who were active in the 90s had retired. Not all of the big names had signed on to be Legends around the time of NBA 2K6, and NBA Live 10 doesn’t have any historical teams or players at all. However, since NBA Live 2002 came out closer to the 90s and includes several stars from that decade, is it possible to cobble together some retro teams? Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Failed Franchise & Season Games

Wayback Wednesday: Failed Franchise & Season 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 some of my failed franchise and season mode games, and reflecting on whether they’re actually failures.

Over the years in Wayback Wednesday, I’ve reminisced about several of my most memorable franchise, season, and career mode games. While they all represent fun times on the virtual hardwood for me, they haven’t been equally successfully as far as completion is concerned. Games where I’ve played through an entire season on twelve minute quarters stand out as the times I’ve really been hooked on the experience, but they’re arguably the exception rather than the rule. There are far more titles that I’ve never finished a single season in, than ones where I’ve had multi-year games.

Of course, as I’ve noted before, completion is what you make it when it comes to the annual sim titles. Unless you stick with a single game for more than a year, it’s tough to get the full multi-year experience in franchise and career modes; especially when you opt for full length seasons on twelve minute quarters without simulating! Even in the games where I didn’t finish the season, I still had a ton of fun. With that being said, there are also franchise and season mode games that I abandoned very quickly. To that end, this week I’m reflecting on some “failed” games, and pondering the concept of “failure” in that context. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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NLSC Podcast #525: Check My Stats

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From courtside of the virtual hardwood, it’s Episode #525 of the NLSC Podcast!

Which basketball video games have been the easiest and hardest to put up stats in over the years? This week, we join the community in discussing the titles that stick out in our minds, as well as the statistics that either eluded us or seemingly piled up way too easily. Additionally, following a session with Virtua NBA – an arcade release that a few people in our community have taken an interest in lately – we give our thoughts on what is certainly an intriguing game. We also provide an update on our journey in the original NBA Jam, pick our ideal hoops games for an annual tournament, and reflect on how it feels to shelve a beloved favourite that’s unfortunately grown stale.

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!

Wayback Wednesday: Revisiting the NBA Live 96 PC Rosters

Wayback Wednesday: Revisiting the NBA Live 96 PC Rosters

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 revisiting the rosters in NBA Live 96 PC.

Have I mentioned that old basketball video games can be interactive almanacs? I believe I have, once or twice! It’s one of the things that I enjoy the most about retro basketball gaming, on top of the nostalgic throwback gameplay of course. As I’ve noted on several occasions, sim titles capture a snapshot of the league at the time they were released. This includes interesting trivia such as phantom stints, familiar faces in unfamiliar places, and familiar faces back in familiar places, to name just some of the examples that I enjoy keeping my eye out for.

I’ve previously revisited the rosters in NBA Live 2002, NBA Live 95 (both PC and Super Nintendo), and NBA Live 99 PC (with the official update). Those were fun trips down memory lane, but I’m even more excited to revisit the rosters in NBA Live 96 PC. It’s one of my all-time favourite basketball games, and while I sunk countless hours into it playing with my 1998 season roster, I also spent a considerable amount of time with the default lineups. It’s also helped me out with modding, and even in answering trivia all these years later! Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Timberwolves Franchise in NBA Live 2003

Wayback Wednesday: Timberwolves Franchise in NBA Live 2003

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 my Franchise game with the Minnesota Timberwolves in NBA Live 2003.

I’ve had a number of memorable franchise and career mode games over the years. My Dynasty games with the Chicago Bulls in NBA Live 2004 and NBA Live 06 are among my all-time favourite basketball gaming experiences. Likewise, I had a blast with MyCAREER in NBA 2K13, NBA 2K17, and NBA 2K19, and I’m still playing through the mode in NBA 2K14 for PlayStation 4. At the same time, I’ve had some games where I haven’t achieved completion or closure, such as my 1998 season in NBA Live 96 PC, and my Sacramento Kings Franchise in NBA Live 2002.

My Franchise with the Minnesota Timberwolves in NBA Live 2003 PC is another example of a “failed” game. Of course, labelling such games as “failures” probably isn’t the right way of looking at things. I’d actually like to delve into that topic in more depth sometime, but my Timberwolves Franchise does stand as an example of how completion is what we make it. Or, to put it another way, as long as it was fun while it lasted, it’s ultimately neither a failure nor wasted time. That Franchise was certainly memorable for me even if it wasn’t successful, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Video Game Teams

Monday Tip-Off: Video Game Teams

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 the concept of Video Game Teams.

Dee and I have mentioned “Video Game Teams” and “Virtual Hardwood Legends” on several episodes of the NLSC Podcast. That’s because they’re part of some of our favourite basketball gaming memories, and I know that we’re definitely not alone in that regard. There have been many articles and posts from basketball and other sports gamers who fondly recall players and teams that were dominant in video games – even unstoppable – irrespective of their real life performance. Indeed, video games are undoubtedly responsible for gamers becoming fans of certain teams and players!

At the same time, enthusiasm for the real sport frequently determines our choices in video games. For example, we’re more likely to use our favourite players and teams – if we have them – because there’s already some degree of emotional investment. We’ll also seek out a change of pace though, and if we’re passionate about the sport and its history, we’ll recreate interesting scenarios and historical showdowns. Over the years, we’ve seen many busts that become superstars on the virtual hardwood, and teams that fared much better in games. They’re often a blast to play with, but as the term “Video Game Teams” might be somewhat ambiguous, I figured I’d take a shot at defining it.

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NLSC Podcast #520: Best Generation of NBA Live & NBA 2K

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From courtside of the virtual hardwood, it’s Episode #520 of the NLSC Podcast!

Which generation produced the best NBA Live and NBA 2K games? This week, we join the community in nominating the golden age for each series. We also recap our exciting co-op Parsec sessions with NBA Live 2000 PC and NBA 2K2 for GameCube, which in turn leads us to reflect on the 2000 Phoenix Suns and the fantastic NBA of the 80s. Additionally, we check in with Troydan’s ongoing quest to pull 100 Overall MyTEAM cards, discuss the drawbacks of digital ownership and the need for physical media, and note an unfortunate side effect of declining the new Terms of Service in NBA 2K24.

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!

Wayback Wednesday: EA Sports Cover Players in NBA Live 16

Wayback Wednesday: EA Sports Cover Players in NBA Live 16

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 the EA Sports cover players that can be found in NBA Live 16.

Did you know that every single NBA 2K cover player is available to play with in NBA 2K24? Between the cover players that are still active and the game’s array of classic and All-Time teams, they’re all accounted for. Obviously, we haven’t had a new NBA Live since 2018, but even then, NBA Live 19 didn’t include every cover player in the history of the series. On top of that, a couple of the cover players that were included in NBA Live 19 were nevertheless retired, and thus exclusive to the collection of Legends in Ultimate Team.

If we want to find the last NBA Live game that featured a healthy selection of players who appeared on the cover of EA Sports’ long-running basketball sim series, we must go back a few years to NBA Live 16. In fact, not only does NBA Live 16 feature a number of NBA Live cover players, but also players who graced the covers of EA Sports’ college basketball titles. And so, I thought it might be fun to spotlight those cover players who are readily accessible in NBA Live 16, wearing EA Sports jerseys in the game’s practice mode. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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NLSC Podcast #516: Michael Jordan, NBA Live, & MyTEAM Greed

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From courtside of the virtual hardwood, it’s Episode #516 of the NLSC Podcast!

Suffice to say, we’ve been on a major NBA Live kick lately! To that point, we’ve got some extremely enjoyable sessions with NBA Live 97, NBA Live 2004, NBA Live 06 (both versions), NBA Live 09, and NBA Live 10 to recap. We also join the community in reflecting on the NBA Live titles that we’ve spent the most time with over the years. On a less positive note, 2K has reached a whole new level of greed with NBA 2K24 MyTEAM. In addition to expressing our disgust, we commend some content creators for (finally) speaking out about these issues. We wrap up this week’s show with a celebration of Michael Jordan’s birthday, as we and our listeners share our fondest memories of MJ on the real and virtual hardwood alike.

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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