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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: Cover Players Who Changed Teams

Wayback Wednesday: Cover Players Who Changed Teams

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 cover players who changed teams not long after they made those appearances.

The choice of cover players is an aspect of basketball gaming that has become a bigger talking point since the early days of the hobby. The earliest NBA licensed basketball games tended to use photographs featuring a handful of players. Even in the late 90s, not all titles featured a single cover player, and more than a couple of cover players weren’t among the league’s elite. Since then, landing a big star has become an essential part of a game’s branding, and cover players have also influenced bonus content, including special game modes.

Sports game covers in general have their own lore and trivia. The infamous “Madden Curse” has been used to describe a string of misfortune suffered by NFL players who have appeared on the game’s cover. Basketball games have generally avoided such superstition, though a handful of players haven’t been so lucky. Arguably, it’s been their teams who’ve had the bad run of luck, as several cover players have ended up moving on not too long after becoming the face of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other titles. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 96 Retrospective

25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 96 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 96.

While NBA Live 95 tipped everything off, it could be said that the release of NBA Live 96 is what established NBA Live as a series. The NBA Playoffs series had seen annual releases and the reuse of the NBA Playoffs branding in its early titles, but they also stood apart with distinct names: Lakers vs Celtics, Bulls vs Lakers, and Bulls vs Blazers. NBA Live 96 ensured that NBA Live 95 wouldn’t be a once-off branding in the lineage, as NBA Live 95 itself was originally intended to do for NBA Showdown. The question is, was NBA Live 96 a worthy successor to an undisputed classic? Did it deserve its back of the box tagline of “Back-to-Back Champion”?

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Inside Drive 2000 Retrospective

Shaq Dunks in NBA Inside Drive 2000

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 Inside Drive 2000, developed by High Voltage Software and published by Microsoft exclusively for PC.

I have an unusual history with NBA Inside Drive 2000. Following a hard drive crash in early 2000, my family finally ditched our venerable 486 DX2 66, upgrading to a much better system: a Pentium III! At the time, it meant that I could play most of the latest games, including NBA Live 2000. Even though I was enjoying NBA Live 2000 (and still hold it in high esteem), I was eager to pick up NBA Inside Drive 2000 when I saw it at my local store. Being a teenage gamer obsessed with basketball, I was keen to get my hands on any virtual hoops title that I could. NBA Live was the premier brand at the time, but other games usually had something appealing to offer.

Unfortunately, NBA Inside Drive 2000 just didn’t click with me, and within a week, I exchanged it for GTA 2. I remember making up a story about how I couldn’t get it to run even though I checked the system requirements first, which the staff believed (I’d feel guiltier about it if they hadn’t ripped me off with a video card, and then made up a story about why it wasn’t working properly rather than help me). Ironically, GTA 2 is my least favourite game in the Grand Theft Auto series, but that’s another story. I’ve since picked up a copy of NBA Inside Drive 2000 off eBay, so what is it that I didn’t like, and do I still feel the same way now? Let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 More Random Basketball Game Facts

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 collection of five more random basketball game facts, that I hope you’ll find interesting.

If you enjoy trivia, raise your hand! I’m going to pretend that I actually see people either raising their hands or keeping them down, and then assume that everyone’s hands are in fact raised. That way, I can say of course everyone enjoys trivia! In all seriousness, it’s fair to say that most people enjoy hearing an interesting fact or two about one of their hobbies or interests, and in our community, that may well refer to a favourite basketball game. From Easter Eggs to unusual facts and figures, there’s some interesting basketball video game trivia that we can talk about.

As you’ve no doubt gleaned from the title, this is actually a sequel article to a Friday Five column that I posted a few years back. Now, they say that sequels are never as good as, or better than the originals – with a few noteworthy exceptions, of course – but with all the basketball games that have been released over the years, this is a topic that could probably become a series. As such, I’ll probably revisit it again down the road, but for now, let’s take a look at five more random basketball game facts that hopefully at least a few of you won’t have heard, and will be interested to discover.

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Monday Tip-Off: Are Two Sim NBA Video Games Enough?

Damian Lillard in NBA Live 16, a game in one of the oldest NBA video games

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 number of NBA video games that are available to us.

Something that’s come up on a few times on the NLSC Podcast when we’ve been reminiscing about the old days of basketball gaming is the dwindling number of NBA video games. Although no other series has enjoyed the same longevity as NBA Live or NBA 2K, several other developers have released NBA licensed sim games over the years. Some series ran for two or three years, some skipped a year, and others didn’t get off the ground after the first game. In any case, while EA Sports and Visual Concepts remained the biggest names in the genre, some years have seen the release of several sim-oriented titles, along with the occasional arcade title here and there.

These days, NBA Live and NBA 2K stand as the only two five-on-five, sim-oriented NBA video games that are still being developed, and only 2K has an unbroken streak of annual releases over the past decade. With 2K’s dominance of the marketplace, Live’s struggles, and the lack of any other developers throwing their hat into the ring, basketball gamers are left with little choice. Saber Interactive are joining the picture with the promising NBA Playgrounds, but that’s an arcade-oriented game. As far as the sim experience is concerned, it’s fair to wonder, are two sim NBA video games enough?

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Wayback Wednesday: Remembering Roster Players

Roster Player dunks the basketball in NBA Live 98

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.

The issue of missing players isn’t as prominent as it was in the early days of basketball gaming. Video games have become a huge industry, authenticity is the name of the game, and the licensing agreement with the NBA Players Association ensures that all active players are represented in NBA Live and NBA 2K. These days, active players who aren’t included at launch are added via official roster updates, so most of the issues with missing players involve historical players that couldn’t be licensed. Fortunately, as the addition of Steve Nash in the latest NBA 2K17 roster update demonstrates, that doesn’t have to be a permanent problem either.

As I’ve discussed in previous articles, this wasn’t always the case. Due to certain players retaining full control over their likeness rights, and sometimes signing exclusive deals with specific developers, some of the biggest names in basketball have been missing from classic hoops games. In some cases, however, they didn’t leave a vacant spot on their team’s roster. Some games elected to include placeholder players, which many old school basketball gamers came to call Roster Players, after the name they were given in various editions of NBA Live.

Roster Players have an interesting legacy in basketball gaming, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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