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 I wish I owned.
Over the years, I’ve built up a fairly big collection of basketball games. Some I’ve purchased new upon their release and I still have my original copies, some I’ve traded in and picked up again second-hand years later, and some I’ve added to my collection many years after they first came out. I like having full series wherever possible, and it’s been fun to check out basketball games that I never got around to playing when they were new. It’s also helped in creating content for the NLSC, particularly the Wayback Wednesday features, so I’ve enjoyed adding to my collection in recent years whenever I’ve been able to find a bargain on eBay.
My collection of basketball games isn’t complete, of course. Some titles are difficult to track down or cost more than I’m currently willing and able to spend, while others are only available on platforms that I don’t own, or were never released in the PAL region. As such, there are a handful of basketball games that I don’t currently own and very likely never will, but for one reason or another, wish that I did. The basketball games that I’m talking about today are, in no particular order, the top five titles that I’d love to add to my collection, if it were at all feasible.
1. NCAA Basketball 10 (Or Any of the NCAA Basketball Games)
You won’t find the posts because we’ve changed content management systems since then, but back in 2009, we covered the preview season of NCAA Basketball 10. Although we were still calling ourselves the NBA Live Series Center at that point, we were already starting to expand our coverage to the NBA 2K series, and so I also decided to cover the upcoming release in EA Sports’ series of college basketball games. The funny thing is, in doing so I was covering a game that I wasn’t intending to buy myself. That is to say, I would’ve picked it up, but unfortunately that just wasn’t possible.
Different entities own the domestic and international licensing rights for the NCAA, and as a result, developers have not been able to release college basketball games outside of North America. Since the Xbox 360 isn’t region free – unlike the PlayStation 3 – there was no point importing NTSC games, as I wouldn’t be able to play them. I wish I could’ve played NCAA Basketball 10 or its predecessors, though. It would’ve been a fun change of pace, and I’d perhaps be a bigger fan of NCAA hoops in general. If I could pick up a cheap second-hand PS3 then I’d also look at picking up some of the NCAA games, but it’d be a bit too much to spend right now.
2. College Hoops 2K8
Speaking of college basketball games, I’d have also liked to have been able to check out Visual Concepts’ series. The final game in the series, College Hoops 2K8, is widely considered to be the best, so that’s my pick for this list. College Hoops 2K8 managed to retain its popularity many years after its release, with several dedicated gamers over at Operation Sports creating new rosters for the game long after Visual Concepts discontinued their support for it. Those efforts have continued to breathe new life into what is an old favourite for a lot of basketball gamers.
Obviously, the same issues that prevented me from getting into any of EA Sports’ NCAA Basketball games also ruled out the possibility of playing College Hoops 2K8 and its predecessors. As I said, if I ever had the means of picking up a second-hand PlayStation 3 then I’d certainly look into getting the game off eBay too, but that’s just not in my budget at the moment. It’s a shame that no developers were ever able to secure the international licensing rights for the NCAA, as it meant that the PAL region missed out on quite a few memorable releases. At least we don’t miss out on the college content that’s been featured in the recent NBA 2K games.
3. NBA 2K2
It took me a while to get into the NBA 2K series, mainly because I just wasn’t a fan of its approach to controls. With NBA Live falling on hard times and the enhancements Visual Concepts has made to the game’s controls in the past six or seven years, I’ve really come to enjoy 2K, and it’s obviously the leader in the genre right now. As we’ve continued to expand our coverage to include NBA 2K and basketball games in general, I’ve been able to pick up older releases here and there to complete my collection. It’s been interesting to check out games that I never got around to playing all those years ago, and also a bit of fun to affordably round out my collection.
Unfortunately, my 2K collection only goes as far back as NBA 2K3 on PlayStation 2. The first two games in the NBA 2K series were exclusive to the Sega Dreamcast, a console that I don’t own and have no intention to buy and start collecting for. NBA 2K2 was the first game in the series to be released on other platforms including the PS2, but unfortunately only the Dreamcast received a PAL release. It’d be nice to have the entire series in my collection, of course, but the absence of NBA 2K2 in particular bugs me because I do actually own a console that it was released for. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be able to play it due to the regional restrictions.
4. An Arcade Cabinet of NBA Jam
As the reaction to NBA Playgrounds and the nostalgia for the NBA Jam and NBA Street series demonstrates, arcade-style basketball games have remained popular throughout the years. Even though I consider myself a sim gamer when it comes to the NBA Live and NBA 2K series, I’m also an avid NBA Jam fan from way back. I own the original game as well as Tournament Edition for the Super Nintendo, along with the PC version of TE and NBA Hangtime on Nintendo 64. Most of my arcade basketball gaming actually came via the home versions, so it would be really cool to own the arcade version of NBA Jam, in an authentic cabinet.
Consoles and PCs may have killed arcades the same way video killed the radio star and streaming services killed the video store, but arcade cabinets are still around. Collectors can get their hands on them, so you do see cabinets in bars, bowling alleys, themed restaurants, and the rare arcade catering to the retro crowd. A friend of mine came across an NBA Jam cabinet in a Melbourne restaurant a couple of years ago and sent me a photo, which reminded me how awesome it would be to own one. Arcade cabinets are expensive though, well beyond what I can afford. It’s fun to think about, but it’s definitely not happening, short of some incredible windfall.
5. NBA Elite 11
Yes, really! Look, we spoke to a gamer that did get their hands on a copy of NBA Elite 11, and I know that it wasn’t an amazing game. There were many reasons that NBA Elite 11 was pulled at the last minute and ultimately cancelled, with EA Sports abandoning its concepts and branding thereafter. That’s the thing, though: it’s an unreleased game with complete-in-box copies that still made their way into the public’s hands, making it a collector’s item. Other genres have seen a lot of unreleased titles that have been discovered years later and found their way into collections, but it hasn’t really happened that much with basketball games.
I went back and played the NBA Elite 11 demo recently in order to get some screenshots and footage for articles and video features, and I was reminded that while certain concepts were interesting and had some merit, it was not the right direction for the series. I wouldn’t want NBA Elite 11 to play though, or at least not very often. I just wish that I had it to round out my collection of the NBA Live series with the one cancelled title that did make it out into the wild. I’ve thought about how much I’d spend on a PAL copy of NBA Elite 11, and I’d probably go up to $200 AUS as it is such a rare oddity among basketball games, but even then, I’m not completely sure.
What are some of the basketball games that you’d love to add to your collection, but can’t due to expense, availability, or other factors? Let me know in the comments section below, and as always, feel free to take the discussion to the NLSC Forum! That’s all for this week, so thanks for checking in, have a great weekend, and please join me again next Friday for another Five.