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NLSC Podcast #339: NBA 2K21 Impressions, NBA Live Hopes

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Episode #339 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

NBA 2K21 Current Gen is here! After getting a taste of the game with the demo, we’ve got further impressions to share after getting our hands on the full version. We’re going in-depth on shooting, dribbling, player movement, and other mechanics with comparisons to both NBA 2K20 and the demo, while touching on changes to modes. In our early appraisal of NBA 2K21, we also describe some of the changes and fixes we’d like to see, and note some of the community’s reactions. In other news, Scott O’Gallagher and Rob Jones joining EA Sports has us feeling optimistic about NBA Live. We talk about what it could mean for the series, and the importance of listening to the right voices moving forward. Finally, we catch up on some other hoops games we’ve been playing, including Dunk Lords, PBA Basketball Slam, and the original NBA Playgrounds.

What’s your take on this week’s conversation? 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 show also comes out on our YouTube channel, so be sure to subscribe for future episodes and other video content.

NLSC Podcast #325: Playground People, The Game & Its Sequel

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Episode #325 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Dee4Three and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

NBA Playgrounds and its sequel NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 have been quite successful, but thus far, the series hasn’t had the same staying power as NBA Jam or NBA Street. We take a deep-dive into the Playground games, discussing the parts that we like, and the parts that we believe could be better. Along the way, we compare and contrast Playgrounds with Jam and Street, discuss missed opportunities for the series, and consider its future. We also talk about NBA Starting Five 2005 – an overlooked Japanese exclusive from the mid 2000s with features that were ahead of their time – and the latest title update for Basketball Classics. A retro pick-up teased in last week’s show is also revealed.

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.

Monday Tip-Off: Going Digital (Before I Had To)

Monday Tip-Off: Going Digital (Before I Had To)

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 reflections on going digital with basketball games, and making that move before I needed to.

These days, the PC version of NBA 2K is exclusively available as a digital release. Even if you happen to find a physical copy – and they do exist in some regions – it just amounts to a card with a Steam key. There are advantages and disadvantages to this approach. On the plus side, digital games save shelf space, and because developers don’t need to press discs, distribution is quicker and cheaper. In a niche demographic such as PC basketball gaming, that’s an important factor in companies seeing the platform as viable and less of a hassle to release on.

The downside is that we need to download everything when we want to install the game. Depending on the quality of our connection and the size of any data limits on our Internet plan, that may not be an ideal scenario. Digital releases are also at risk of being removed from platforms like Steam, whereas physical copies obviously remain in circulation. Beyond convenience and availability, there’s just something satisfying about having a physical copy that you can hold in your hands or display on a shelf. We don’t always have a lot of choice, especially on PC these days, but I actually found myself going digital with basketball games before it was necessary.

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Hangtime Retrospective

Wayback Wednesday: NBA Hangtime Retrospective

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 NBA Hangtime.

One of the benefits of Wayback Wednesday is that eventually, everything becomes “retro” enough to talk about. As it is, I’ve bent the rules slightly with some more recent games from time to time, but generally speaking, I’ve preferred focusing on titles that are several years old. To that end, I’ve tried to cover many of the classics before touching on more recent nostalgia. However, there are several titles from the early days of basketball gaming that I still haven’t covered, but definitely mean to get to. NBA Hangtime is just one of the games that are overdue for a retrospective.

Perhaps it’s only fitting that I’ve yet to cover the game, going on five years of running Wayback Wednesday features. As popular as it was with basketball gamers in its day, it does tend to be overlooked when we discuss the best arcade hoops titles. It was a strong follow-up to NBA Jam Tournament Edition – one of my personal favourites – and a game that I really enjoyed on the Nintendo 64. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Landmark Basketball Games of the 2010s

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 that were landmark releases during the 2010s.

It’s the final Friday Five of 2019, and indeed, the final Friday Five of the decade! As the 2010s draw to a close and a new generation looms on the horizon, it feels like a good time to reflect on the decade that was in basketball gaming. Originally, I was going to compile a Top 5 countdown of the best basketball games of the decade, but it’s difficult not to omit some worthy candidates in a list of five. It’s also potentially a very boring countdown, given NBA 2K’s dominance and NBA Live’s struggles over the past ten years. The more I thought about it, the less appealing the idea became.

As such, I’ve decided to talk about landmark releases, as there have been a handful of those during the 2010s. That may sound like a distinction without a difference, but to me, a landmark game doesn’t necessarily need to be one of the best or the absolute pinnacle of its genre; just one that had a great impact and was very influential. Of course, there is some overlap as the games I’m listing here are great releases and could be candidates for a “Best Basketball Games of the Decade” countdown, but the point is that wherever you rank them, there’s no denying their importance and effect. These games represent important milestones in basketball gaming over the past decade.

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NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 Patch 1.20 Adds New Content

NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 Patch 1.20

Patch 1.20 is now available for NBA 2K Playgrounds 2, and should download automatically as long as you have an active Internet connection. If you run into any issues, try checking for the update manually, or restarting your console or Steam client. The patch is a content update for the 2020 season, and the release notes are as follows:

  • 22 new playable characters
  • 6 returning courts from NBA Playgrounds
  • 30 new vanity items
  • 50 new court editor items
  • Playable Ronnie 2K!

For the record, the last patch for NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 was released back in May. Since there haven’t been any announcements regarding a new title, it appears as though the current release will be updated for a while longer. As always, feel free to share your thoughts on Patch 1.20 for NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 in the comments section below, as well as join in the discussion here in the NLSC Forum.

The Friday Five: Top 5 Worst Announcers 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 worst announcers in basketball video games.

Two Top 5 countdowns in a row? Yes indeed! Last week we took a look at my picks for the five best announcers in basketball games, so it seems only right that this week, we count down the five worst. Once again, this is all subjective and down to personal preference to some extent, and I don’t want to come across as mean-spirited with this countdown. After all, I’m sure that everyone I’ve named here did try their best in the booth. Nevertheless, these are my picks, and reading comments from other basketball gamers, I know that I’m not alone in some of these selections.

Since I outlined what makes a great hoops game announcer last week, I suppose I should set out my criteria for the worst announcers. Essentially, it’s the opposite. The performance may be stilted and boring, or inauthentic. In some cases, it may be a bad fit for the style of basketball game in question. Other times, the performance isn’t the problem, but the things the announcer is saying are annoying or distracting, and take you out of the experience. In short, commentary that is flat, uninspiring, ill-fitting, or annoying will make the action on the virtual hardwood seem far less fun and exciting, and that’s one of the main problems that I (and others) have with these announcers.

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Monday Tip-Off: Balancing Positivity & Negativity

LeBron James dunks 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 delicate act of balancing the amount of positivity and negativity as a content creator.

There’s a reason that I’m still running the NLSC going on eighteen years this August. There’s a reason I decided that I would take the risk on paying for our own hosting after our previous host discontinued their services, and it looked like we might have to shut down after twenty years online. Basketball video games are still a hobby that I enjoy, and enjoy to the extent that I want to create content as part of a community that I discovered way back in 1997. The NLSC was one of my favourite sites before I took over running it, and since that time, it’s become a gratifying creative outlet for me.

I’ve enjoyed establishing original content beyond mods and basketball gaming news: the NLSC Podcast, The Friday Five, Wayback Wednesday, and this feature, Monday Tip-Off. I like covering a variety of topics in these features, from advice and stories about what I’m playing, to constructive articles about improving the games and what I hope is interesting trivia. I’m always aiming for variety in the games that I talk about, but I’m not just balancing coverage between NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other titles. As I discuss all manner of topics regarding basketball video games, I’m trying my best to maintain a healthy balance between positivity and negativity in my features.

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NLSC Podcast #280: Tim Kitzrow, Voice of NBA Jam

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Episode #280 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Dare I say it, this week’s episode is ON FIRE, as I had an opportunity to chat with the legendary voice of NBA Jam himself, Tim Kitzrow! It was a lot of fun talking to Tim, who was very generous with his time and stories. Be sure to follow Tim on Twitter, and hit up Who Said What Now to order your own custom audio messages from the Baron of Boomshakalaka!

The voice of NBA Jam, Tim Kitzrow, joins the NLSC Podcast this week for an extended interview. Tim provides an insight into how he went from classically trained actor and improv artist with The Second City in Chicago, to being the voice of one of basketball gaming’s most iconic series. From the origins of the word Boomshakalaka and fascinating tidbits about NBA Jam and other games Tim has worked on, to Tim’s recent projects and a bunch of other fun stories, this week’s show is a must-listen for all NBA Jam enthusiasts!

Tune in below!

I hope you enjoyed my interview with Tim Kitzrow! Sound off with your thoughts on the NBA Jam series 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.

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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NLSC Podcast – Episode #274

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Episode #274 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! It’s been a busy week in basketball gaming with multiple patches and content updates, while things have also been interesting in the real NBA thanks to the trade deadline. Along with what we’ve been doing on the virtual hardwood, it’s given Kenny and I plenty to talk about.

On this week’s show…

  • NBA Live 19 received a substantial title and content update this week. Getting a trade deadline roster update in time for the weekend was a pleasant surprise, but the addition of in-game injuries came as even better news. It leads us to reflect on some changes that were patched into NBA Live 10 all those years ago.
  • Following up on Patch 1.08 for NBA 2K19, there have indeed been some improvements in terms of cutting down on body steals. Will the changes stick for NBA 2K20, though?
  • With NBA 2K trying to strike a balance between its sim roots, competitive online play, and occasional demands for less realism, has the series become a victim of its own success due to the influx of more casual basketball gamers?
  • NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 has received new content, just in time for the All-Star Weekend (and Valentine’s Day). We share a few more opinions on the game, and also discuss the removal of the first NBA Playgrounds game from the Steam Store.
  • Our Week in Basketball Gaming included progress into Season 2 of MyCAREER, an online session for the NLSC crew, LIVE Events swag, and MyTEAM Domination. It also included a bit of modding, with further updates to a work-in-progress roster update for NBA 2K11.
  • We wrap up Episode #274 of the NLSC Podcast with this week’s NBA discussion. Topics include the flurry of movement at the trade deadline, and a look ahead to the 2019 All-Star Weekend in Charlotte.

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.

Monday Tip-Off: Online vs. Offline in Basketball Gaming

Playing online in LIVE Run (NBA Live 19)

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 divide between online and offline enthusiasts within the basketball gaming community, and how it’s affecting the development of hoops titles.

By definition, fanatics are not always logical, with measured, reasonable opinions. It’s a rare fanbase that doesn’t have some sort of schism, if not a multitude of factions that hold differing opinions. I touched on one such example in last week’s feature, noting that there’s often dissonance when it comes to younger gamers, and those who have been playing basketball games for a long time (in some cases, more than a couple of decades). There are a lot of things that most basketball gamers want and can agree on, but also some very different ideas about features, identity, and overall direction.

The most noticeable schism within the basketball gaming community would have to be between online and offline gamers. The rise of online gaming in general, and the expansion of multiplayer modes in basketball games specifically, has led to a faction of hoops gamers who play exclusively online, with little interest in the offline modes. At the same time, there are a lot of gamers who prefer the single player experience. In the middle of the Venn diagram are gamers who play both online and offline to some extent, sitting in the crossfire of two passionate factions who are not only taking shots at developers, but also each other. Unfortunately, it makes us a hard group to please.

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Monday Tip-Off: Toxicity in the Basketball Gaming Community

LeBron James dribbles the basketball in NBA Live 19

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 toxicity that we unfortunately so often encounter in the basketball gaming community.

Yes, cranky old Andrew has something else to complain about today! I mean, the last four Monday Tip-Off articles were all about having fun with basketball video games, so it’s about time I grumble again, right? In all seriousness, this is a topic that I feel needs to be addressed, because I believe it’s an area where collectively, we can do a lot better: toxicity among basketball gamers. Now, there is a certain amount of irony in discussing the matter in that it’s being negative about negativity, but it’s important that we do take a look at what’s happening, and aim for a constructive solution.

Before we begin, let’s address the obvious point: the situation is hardly unique to the basketball gaming community, or the World Wide Web at large. Many blogs, videos, comics, and social media posts have been made about the toxicity that all too often permeates online culture. That in itself doesn’t make it right or a desirable state of affairs however, and it certainly doesn’t mean that we can’t take steps to change our attitudes and behaviour. I’ve been a content creator and part of the online basketball gaming community for over twenty years now, and I’ve noticed an increased amount of toxicity in that time. Worst of all, in some ways, developers are pandering to it.

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The Friday Five: 5 Toughest Trophies & Achievements

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 five trophies (or depending on the platform, achievements) that rank among the toughest in basketball games.

Trophies and achievements are an aspect of modern gaming that tends to divide most gamers into a couple of broad categories: those who take pride in collecting as many of them as possible, and those who are mostly indifferent to them. Some gamers may view trophies and achievements with some degree of scorn, but I’ve always found them to be a fun idea. They’re a clear goal for completionists to aim for, and in many cases suggest interesting challenges, perhaps even hinting at modes and features we wouldn’t normally think of trying out.

Of course, some trophies and achievements are attained very easily, simply by playing through a game’s story or campaign. Such is the case with several basketball games, where progressing through the career mode or completing tutorials is enough to earn several of them. There are some that are far more difficult to attain though, and that’s what we’re looking at today. Since any trophies and achievements for online features eventually become impossible to attain when the servers are shut down, I’m excluding them from this list unless they were also notably difficult to get at the time; otherwise, they’d all make the list by default. Without any further ado, let’s tip off the list!

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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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