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 cheats that have major drawbacks.
Cheaters never prosper, as the saying goes. Of course, that saying predates video games, where cheating often leads to great success! Doom II sure felt like a walk in the park when my cousin and I punched in IDDQD and IDKFA for invincibility and all the items. There are a couple of adventure games I probably wouldn’t have ever finished if not for a walkthrough, and the Konami code has benefited many a gamer over the years. Alright, it’s kind of cheating yourself and it’s far more satisfying when you beat a game legitimately, but the point is that cheats are indeed effective.
Well, some of them. Some cheats are more like Easter eggs, unlocking weird effects and bonus content that don’t actually help you win. Some are definitely just for fun, but even then, there can be drawbacks. As is the case in other genres, employing cheats in basketball games may not allow you to make any progress. The effects of some cheats are a letdown, while others may actually make the game more difficult. Whatever the case may be, you’re better off avoiding these codes and activities if you want to enjoy basketball gaming to its fullest. Here are five such examples, and the drawbacks that you can expect to experience.
1. NBA Jam’s Hidden Players Can’t Advance in Tournament
Hidden players are as much a part of the NBA Jam series as catching fire after three consecutive baskets, and Tim Kitzrow’s fantastic commentary. It’s a treat to see the different secret ballers show up after you defeat all the teams, but it’s even better to be able to play with them yourself! That can be accomplished by entering specific initials before beginning a game, along with the necessary date of birth, and sometimes also holding another key or button depending on the version of NBA Jam. Enter the right code and you can play with creator Mark Turmell and other developers, Will Smith, Prince Charles, various NBA mascots, and all the other secret players in the games.
What you can’t do is advance through the tournament using those players. Entering initials is how NBA Jam registers profiles and tracks progress, but that functionality is disabled for the combinations that unlock hidden players. As such, if you enter those initials, beat the first team on the ladder, and then enter them again, they’ll still be your next opponent. This is probably only fair, but one of the major drawbacks here is that if you’re a content creator wanting to get a screenshot of a hidden player in NBA Jam Tournament Edition on PC, activating them in a single player game is going to mean those screenshots will always feature the Dallas Mavericks. I’m just saying…
2. Super Dunk Mode in NBA Live 09 Doesn’t Change Much
If you thought the Sprite vending machine that appears while shooting around in the team practice gym in NBA Live 09 was pure product placement, you’re half right as it’s most certainly that. However, it does have a tangible function. If you go over to the machine, you’ll be prompted to enter a code. There’s just one working code that you can punch in: SPRITESLAM. I’m not sure if there were ever plans to add more codes through the year – with concepts like Locker Codes in NBA 2K, you’d certainly expect something like that now – but that’s all you can do with the Sprite vending machine in NBA Live 09. As it stands, you probably won’t want to do it, anyway.
The code unlocks “Super Dunk Mode”, which…doesn’t really do much. It does allow you to throw down huge dunks with anyone and everyone without modifying their attributes, but that’s about it. There aren’t any unique dunk animations, such as NBA Jam-style somersaults into the rafters before throwing it down. I suppose it’s kind of fun if you want to change things up a little, but the novelty wears off very quickly. When it comes to major drawbacks with cheats, a code that underwhelms is definitely on the list. On top of that, the only way to disable the code is to exit NBA Live 09 and start a new session. It’s a minor inconvenience, but still on the list of drawbacks.
3. NBA Courtside’s Disco Court Hides the Lines
You know, as pointless as cheats like this are, I do miss them. They’re a relic of a past era now, and anything like them usually has to be purchased with in-game currency. They were fun secrets though, and worth checking out at least once, if only in a casual couch multiplayer game with friends. Developer teams and secret courts were very common cheats, and Kobe Bryant in NBA Courtside featured both. Its secret court was a disco arena, with mirror ball lighting effects that snowed their way across the screen, and an illuminated dance floor in place of the hardwood. It’s unquestionably unique, and a fairly creative secret court to unlock in a basketball video game.
Oh, and it completely removes all the lines on the court. No key, no three-point arc, no halfcourt, baselines, or sidelines. There’s nothing but colourful flashing tiles under the players’ feet, and darkness surrounding the court. You’ve probably identified the problem here. It’s the same one that many of us have encountered in recent NBA 2K games with custom Pro-Am and MyTEAM courts that make it difficult or impossible to see the lines. Even with a keen awareness of court dimensions, it’s easy to step out of bounds, or put a foot on the three-point line. It was even easier in an old game like NBA Courtside, with more primitive animations, player movement, and foot planting.
4. Drawbacks Either Way Unlocking MJ in NBA Live 2000
The Nintendo 64 was definitely showing its age by the time NBA Live 2000 came out, as evidenced by the fact it only had room for one legend: Michael Jordan. Well, if you can only have one, it might as well be the GOAT; especially when you’re paying a lot of money for his likeness, and his branding is on the 1-on-1 mode. Defeating His Airness in a game of 1-on-1 was the method of unlocking him, at which point he was placed in the Free Agent pool. Considering that MJ was only a season removed from retirement and did return a couple of years later, placing him back in the active rosters wasn’t as strange of an idea as it may seem. It also made him available outside 1-on-1.
It made sense, but it had a couple of drawbacks. Obviously, you may not want to have MJ back in the NBA in your rosters and Season game (as a free agent or otherwise), but once he was unlocked, he was there in the Free Agent pool. You didn’t have to save the roster, of course, but if you didn’t and then wanted to use him again, you’d have to unlock him once more. This was less convenient and exciting than the PC and PlayStation versions with the Decade All-Stars and Legends Pool, but at least the N64 didn’t miss out on MJ entirely. Also, I realise this isn’t technically a “cheat”, but like most unlockables it tended to be listed alongside the codes, so I’m counting it.
5. Offline Hacking Indistinguishable from Online Cheats
Let’s move from in-game cheats to external cheating…at least from a certain point of view. While we certainly don’t condone or support online hacking around these parts, what someone chooses to do with an offline MyCAREER is their business. Now, it’s worth pointing out that there’s a certain satisfaction to be found in grinding the hard way and levelling up legitimately, but if you want to skip the grind offline, then I do understand the motivation. “Cheating yourself” drawbacks aside, the main problem is that even if you’re only hacking the game for your own benefit, you must be careful. NBA 2K doesn’t have the best anti-cheat measures, but there are some in place.
That means if you’re online (i.e. connected to Steam and the 2K servers), you can get pinged for using software such as Cheat Engine, and subsequently have your account banned. Even if you’re only modifying an offline save, there’s no way the anti-cheat measures can be sure of that, so in that respect it’s understandable. Of course, it’s also frustrating when you see people blatantly cheating online and not getting banned, so the system is far from foolproof. As much as anything else, this issue highlights the drawbacks of MyCAREER turning into a completely online mode, removing the ability to tinker and experiment with an offline save for your own amusement.
Do you know of any other cheats in basketball games that have major drawbacks, even if they’re fun to use? Let me know in the comments, 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.