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

It’s been almost a year since I did a Top 5 countdown in The Friday Five. Seeing as how it’s one of the reasons this feature is The Friday Five, it’s time to remedy that. This time, I’m counting down the Top 5 Announcers in all of basketball video games, meaning both sim and arcade titles. I’m also featuring announcers who call real NBA games and voice actors who have provided commentary over the years. If that isn’t already a spoiler, yes, legendary voice of NBA Jam Tim Kitzrow is on the list. The question is: who are the other four announcers?

For that matter, what makes a great announcer in a basketball video game? In a sim game, it usually means authenticity in replicating a broadcast, from play-by-play to colour commentary. Conversely, arcade games benefit from commentary that isn’t as focused on play-by-play, but rather exaggerated reactions and catchphrases. The announcers play a key role in establishing the overall atmosphere and vibe of a hoops title, which goes a long way in getting us hooked and keeping us engaged. Obviously countdowns like this are always subjective, but I’d suggest that thanks to these five announcers, our experiences on the virtual hardwood have been greatly enhanced.

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The Friday Five: 5 Hot Takes on Basketball Gaming in 2019

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 features five of my hot takes on basketball gaming in 2019.

Another Friday the 13th is upon us, and I’ll be honest: I’m drawing a blank on fresh ideas related to good luck, bad luck, and the number thirteen. I suppose I could talk about having terrible luck with disconnections in NBA 2K, or how I lost my progress in my NBA 2K17 MyCAREER when I accidentally overwrote it with an old backup from the cloud, and then access to the save file entirely because the server was shut down during a time when I’d uninstalled the game. I could look back at NBA 2K13, or even the ill-fated NBA Live 13, but that’s more suited to Wayback Wednesday.

Instead, I’m going to take us into the weekend by sharing five hot takes about hoops gaming in 2019. After all, does anyone want a fair and measured take anymore? I’d like to think so as that’s my preferred approach, but there’s no denying the popularity of hot takes. If you agree with them, they make you feel clever and self-righteous. If you disagree with them, you can enjoy getting fired up and firing back at the person tossing them out. I can’t quite bring myself to abandon all reason and give you some hot takes on the level of an obnoxious talking head on a panel show, but I’ll share a few thoughts regarding our beloved hobby that you may or may not agree with.

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The Friday Five: 5 New Basketball Games I’d Like to See

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 new basketball games that I’d like to see developed in the future.

Happy 2K Day everyone! NBA 2K20 is out today, which means a lot of gamers in our community will be spending time with it this weekend; I know I will be! While I hope I’ll enjoy NBA 2K20 as much as I did NBA 2K19, I’m also hoping that it won’t be the only release this year. We’re still waiting on any information about NBA Live 20, and the future of the NBA Live series. A release is slated for next quarter and various reps have said that EA Sports aren’t pulling the plug, so we can only wait and see what happens.

I still firmly believe that we need at least two viable choices when it comes to the sim-oriented NBA games on the market. Ideally, we’d also have some more arcade games and other titles to choose from, too. Obviously a lot of people are getting the virtual basketball experience they crave from NBA 2K, but competition, alternatives, and different takes on the sport are important to have. Beyond seeing NBA Live catch up to NBA 2K and be competitive again, there are other ideas for basketball games that I’d like to see come to fruition. Some of these ideas are easier said than done when you take licensing into account, but I’m throwing them out there anyway.

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NLSC Podcast – Episode #272

NLSC Podcast Logo

Episode #272 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Both Arcane and Kenny are unavailable to co-host this week, so I’ve given a solo show another try. As a result, it’s a shorter episode, but I still manage to catch up on some recent news, offer up some opinions, and share what I’ve been doing on the virtual hardwood.

On this week’s show…

  • A content update has come through for NBA Live 19, featuring current rosters and new items in The One Store. Although the updates are welcome, there is growing unrest within the community, who generally want to see more focus on NBA content.
  • Our modding community continues to pump out some excellent work. It’s difficult not to get inspired to contribute, and to that end, a few projects are still in the works.
  • Cleanprincegaming posted an excellent retrospective on the rise and fall of the NBA Street series. It highlights an unfortunate shift in EA Sports’ business model, and a lack of creativity in the current market.
  • Has 2K ruined Team Pro-Am? Despite the launch of the NBA 2K League, the changes to Pro-Am in recent games seem counterproductive to generating interest in it, or the mode in general.
  • Episode #272 of the NLSC Podcast wraps up with some recent stories from the virtual hardwood, including a frustrating bug in the NBA Finals in NBA 2K19’s MyCAREER.

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.

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Monday Tip-Off: The Self-Destruction of NBA Playgrounds 2

Kevin Durant shoots in NBA Playgrounds 2

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 further thoughts on NBA Playgrounds 2, and how the game appears to be self-destructing before it’s even released.

Back in May, I wrote an article discussing the opportunity that NBA Playgrounds 2 had to become the definitive arcade basketball game of the current generation. In the immediate wake of the game’s indefinite postponement, such a suggestion still felt somewhat plausible. As the weeks and months have passed, however, it’s starting to feel laughable. We haven’t heard a single thing since the game was postponed, and despite vague promises in the game’s official Facebook group, there’s little to back up the idea that “good things come to those who wait”.

Right now, Saber Interactive is insisting that the game isn’t cancelled, and that the release was pushed back for positive reasons. While that may ultimately turn out to be true, their silence is not inspiring confidence. Gamers are starting to feel sceptical and cynical, rather than anticipating an announcement that’s still “coming soon”. While the game may indeed come out, it’s going to have a tough time living up to the hype and expectations set by its mysterious delay. Even if it turns out to be an improvement on the first NBA Playgrounds and a solid game, the opportunity to become the arcade basketball game of this generation may have slipped through Saber’s fingers.

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Wayback Wednesday: The Forgotten NBA Jam

NBA Jam 2004 Pre-Game

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 Jam; not the original, not the 2010 reboot, but the 2003 release for PlayStation 2 and Xbox.

With NBA Jam celebrating its 25th Anniversary, there’s been even more nostalgia than usual surrounding the classic series of basketball video games. For long-time basketball gamers, and for those who know their gaming history, the lineage of the series is well known. NBA Jam and NBA Jam Tournament Edition are hailed as classics, and rightfully so. NBA Hangtime – Midway’s follow-up after Acclaim won the rights to the Jam name – is also a great game. Acclaim’s titles, from Extreme to the sim-oriented releases, were generally lacklustre. The series was revived by EA Sports, with the 2010 reboot and subsequent On Fire Edition being quite successful.

Midway also produced spiritual successors in the form of NBA Showtime: NBA on NBC, and NBA Hoopz. However, between the five-on-five titles and the reboot by EA Sports, Acclaim released a game simply titled NBA Jam (identified as NBA Jam 2004 by the disc’s digital label), which aimed to return to the series’ roots of over-the-top arcade gameplay. It’s become somewhat of a forgotten release, overshadowed by other titles that bear the NBA Jam name, but it has its good points and deserves a second look. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: It’s Time to Retire “Cartoonish”

LeBron James in NBA Live 18

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 discussion of my least favourite buzzword, “cartoonish”.

Fellow basketball gamers, we’ve got to talk. I know that I’ve gone on about this before, in previous articles and on the NLSC Podcast. It’s admittedly hard to broach this subject without sounding like a broken record, a fanboy stamping my feet, or a tyrant aggressively attacking freedom of speech. Hear me out though, because our credibility as a gaming community is at stake here. Alright, that might be a bit of a melodramatic exaggeration, but it is one of our worst habits, and we let ourselves down whenever we fall victim to it.

It’s been run into the ground more than jokes about blowing 3-1 leads, or the Crying Jordan image macro. It’s not making us look smart and knowledgeable about our hobby, even though we absolutely are. It’s tired, lazy, and uninspired. And so, it’s time to do something about it. It’s time to expand our vocabulary. It’s time to learn how to properly critique, instead of relying on snark and overused buzzwords. Quite frankly, it’s time to grow up. It’s time that we retire the word “cartoonish” to describe textures, animations, and other aspects of basketball video games that we don’t like.

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NBA Playgrounds Coming in May (PC, PS4, X1, & Switch)

NBA Playgrounds Logo

It’s been a while since the last NBA-licensed arcade-style basketball game, but that’s about to change. Saber Interactive will be releasing NBA Playgrounds, a fully licensed arcade hoops game, in May. The game will be available as a $20 digital download for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and the Nintendo Switch.

At a glance, NBA Playgrounds looks to be a hybrid of NBA Jam and NBA Street. It features two-on-two gameplay and player art style reminiscent of Jam, along with the blacktop setting and aesthetic of Street. Furthermore, it will feature a roster of both current players and NBA Legends. Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson, Dominique Wilkins, James Worthy, Spud Webb, and Billy Cunningham are among the historical players who will be featured.

Check out a trailer for NBA Playgrounds below, or watch it here on YouTube if you can’t see the embedded video.

With the game coming out on PC, it’ll be interesting to see if it can be modded. It’s great to finally see a new arcade alternative to the sim titles, so we’ll definitely be covering it when it comes out, especially if modding is possible. Do you have any interest in NBA Playgrounds? Sound off in the comments below, and join in the discussion here in the Forum!

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The Friday Five: 5 Times Basketball Games Predicted The Future

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 interesting coincidences where basketball games seemingly predicted the future.

With a bit of creative thinking and hindsight, it’s not too difficult to find “correct predictions” everywhere. Take Michael Jordan’s “Total D” basketball trading card from 1995, for example. Noting that the one-time Defensive Player of the Year is still generally known more for his dunks and scoring outbursts than lockdown D, the back of the card refers to him as an “Aerial Wizard”. A reference to his high flying exploits, or a prediction of his second comeback with Washington, as well as the team’s name change a year before it was even announced? I’ll let you be the judge.

If you’re thinking rationally, you’ll have correctly written off the above suggestion as nothing more than a couple of fun coincidences. As I said though, it isn’t too difficult to take those coincidences and spin a story about them eerily predicting the future. To that end, this week’s Five is all about basketball video games that predicted one thing or another…or so it would seem. And no, the inclusion of the Charlotte Bobcats in NBA Live 2004 doesn’t count; they’d already been unveiled, and we all knew they would be making their debut the following season.

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The Friday Five: Best Arcade Basketball Game of Each Generation

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.

Since I offered up my picks for the five best sim basketball games of their generation in last week’s Friday Five, this week I thought I’d focus on the arcade games. While there are sim heads who won’t touch arcade basketball games, and conversely more casual sports gamers who greatly prefer them to the sim titles, there are a lot of people who have a healthy appreciation for both styles. I definitely count myself as someone who has enjoyed both types of basketball games over the years, and as such, I have my own picks for the best arcade hoops title in five distinct generations/eras.

As with last week’s list, I’ll emphasise that these picks are only my opinion, and it’s not my intention to present them as infallible, definitive, or indisputable. I’d like to think that I have an informed and reasonable take on the subject, of course, but lists like this are intended to start the discussion, not end it. I’m certainly interested to see if some of you have a different take, and if so, what your picks are. With that being said, let’s once again tip things off with the basketball video games of the 16-Bit era and earlier, and take it right through until the current generation.

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The Friday Five: 5 Memorable Basketball Game Characters

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.

As revealed in the deep-dive developer blog and subsequent trailer, we’ll be introduced to a new cast of characters in NBA 2K17’s MyCAREER mode. Of course, the presence of fictional characters in basketball video games is nothing new, and goes back a long way before NBA 2K began taking a story-driven approach to MyCAREER. While we obviously remember and are familiar with the real players featured in basketball video games, new and old, those fictional players and other characters we encounter also have a tendency to stick in our minds.

For this week’s Friday Five, I’m compiling a list of some of the most memorable characters we’ve seen in basketball video games. Please note that I don’t necessarily mean memorable in a positive sense; just that we do remember them. Please also note that I’m excluding secret players in NBA Jam who are actors, politicians, or developers, as well as NBA mascots (who are obviously characters, but not ones created specifically for basketball video games). These are five fictional basketball video game characters that are all memorable for one reason or another.

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