Welcome to another edition of The Friday Five! Every Friday I cover a topic related to basketball gaming, either as a list of five items, or a Top 5 countdown. The topics for these lists and countdowns include everything from fun facts and recollections to commentary and critique. This week’s Five is a list of five console-only basketball games that we really missed having on PC.
Although we’ve come to cover all basketball games across a variety of platforms, we certainly do have a reputation as a PC-oriented site. This goes back to our roots as the NBA Live Series Center, when we were strictly an NBA Live fansite and the home of many tools and mods (then referred to as patches) for the PC releases. Even as we’ve widened our scope, we’ve continued to support and advocate for the PC as a platform. As we’ve previously discussed on the NLSC Podcast, even though PC users are the smallest group of basketball gamers, it’s a passionate and enthusiastic demographic.
There was a time when the PC release of NBA Live was the definitive version, as even the average home computer far outstripped consoles in power and storage capacity. Around the time of the PlayStation 2 and original Xbox, the PC began to receive ports of the console version of NBA Live. Of course, it was one of the few basketball games that were being ported to PC, as there were far more console-only releases than PC exclusives. Putting aside emulation and the Xbox App in recent years, this means that we’ve missed out on having some landmark basketball games on PC. Here are five in particular we would’ve loved to have had on the platform.
1. NBA Live 10
The announcement that NBA Live 09 would be console-only was met with much disappointment (and indeed, hostility) in our community. For several basketball gamers, it ended their relationship with EA Sports, as the arrival of NBA 2K9 on PC allowed them to make the jump to 2K. We would’ve had another rough release with a port of NBA Live 09 for PS2, but there was good reason to feel wistful about the lack of a PlayStation 3/Xbox 360 port for PC. There was some hope that the series would return to PC with NBA Live 10, but it remained console-only, specifically releasing on PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, and Xbox 360. PC gamers weren’t happy.
After all, there are some gamers who regard NBA Live 10 as being the best game in the series. I’d still argue that NBA Live 06 PC is the best all-around NBA Live game with the least amount of insurmountable issues, but I’ve grown extremely fond of NBA Live 10 as well. If it had come out on PC, I imagine there’d still be a few people creating mods for it today. The gameplay holds up, there are a fair amount of assets to work with, and if we’d been able to fix the simulated stats in Dynasty mode, it would have tremendous replay value. PC basketball gamers missed out on a great release in NBA Live 10, and who knows what it would’ve meant for future NBA Lives on PC.
2. NCAA Basketball 10 or College Hoops 2K8
As I’m prone to doing here in The Friday Five, I’m cheating with two examples for the price of one. However, my point is that the PC missed out by not getting at least one of the best console-only college basketball games, and these two are prime examples. I personally prefer NCAA Basketball 10 to College Hoops 2K8 because it has the same right stick dribbling controls as NBA Live 10, while the latter shares the clunky Isomotion mechanics of NBA 2K8. College Hoops 2K8 is the deeper game with a superior franchise mode though, and many do prefer it, so I’m presenting both games as examples of great console-only collegiate titles that left PC gamers quite envious.
While we’ve been able to create some fantastic NCAA mods for NBA Live and NBA 2K over the years, they obviously have their limitations as to what can be replicated as far as NCAA rules and formats. Both NCAA Basketball 10 and College Hoops 2K8 have their own mechanics and features that capture the style and atmosphere of the collegiate game, and they’re fun to play. Aside from having a readily-available college basketball experience, releasing those games on PC would’ve no doubt led to the formation of a modding community around them. In turn, they could’ve been kept fresh for years with content that can’t be created with the in-game customisation tools.
3. NBA Jam: On Fire Edition
I’ve declared NBA Jam: On Fire Edition to be the best NBA Jam game that we’ve ever seen, an assertion that I still stand by. If there is a downside to OFE, it’s that we didn’t get a PC release. Thanks to Parsec and the aforementioned Xbox App, it is actually possible to stream the game from an Xbox One and play it on PC, or indeed copy the game from your PS3 and use the RPCS3 emulator. It’s even moddable! These aren’t actual PC releases though, and weren’t viable solutions when NBA Jam: OFE first came out. If it had been released on Steam, I know that PC gamers would’ve had a blast with it, and might indeed share my opinion of it being the best NBA Jam title.
You only have to look at what johnz1 has done with the Legends On Fire Edition and On Fire Edition 2023 mods to see what a PC modding community could’ve done way back in 2011. No Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar? Not a problem! Beyond that though, it’s yet another awesome console-only game that PC gamers missed out on, and would’ve greatly enjoyed. The only Jam-like titles the PC has received in the past decade are NBA Playgrounds and NBA 2K Playgrounds 2. Both are respectable efforts, but nevertheless fell way short of EA Sports’ NBA Jams, as well as the original Midway classics. At least we have the emulator these days!
4. A PC Port of NBA 2K14 for PlayStation 4/Xbox One
This may be a controversial suggestion. It was also never going to happen, as the PlayStation 4/Xbox One version of NBA 2K14 was a launch title for those consoles, released a couple of months after the then-Current Gen platforms (and PC). Putting aside viability though, the PC did miss out on a landmark release by not getting a port of the PS4/X1 version of NBA 2K14. From a stunning leap in graphics to revamped modes and the Eco-Motion engine, it was an impressive game. There’s a reason that after revisiting NBA 2K14 PS4 for Wayback Wednesday features, I became hooked on playing through a MyCAREER, preferring it to more recent entries in the series.
At the same time, there would’ve been a downside to the PC receiving the then-Next Gen version of NBA 2K14, and a silver lining to it remaining a PS3/360 port for one more year. The familiar file formats facilitated a staggering amount of mods, resulting in a modding scene that is still active today. Not everyone was a fan of Association turning into MyGM, with its RPG mechanics and VC paywalls. Roster editing is very limited, as are the number of save slots. Current Gen/PC also had a creative mode in LeBron: Path to Greatness. Those benefits aside, I suspect that PC gamers would’ve still appreciated a port of NBA 2K14 Next Gen, even with its potential drawbacks.
5. NBA Street Vol. 2
Another basketball game series that we’ve never officially had on PC is the fantastic NBA Street by the now-defunct EA Sports BIG label (this isn’t counting the South Korean-exclusive and browser-based NBA Street Online and NBA Street Online 2). In my view, NBA Street is the only arcade series that’s really challenged NBA Jam, yet also complements it by standing apart as its own concept. Sadly, as with FIFA Street and NFL Street, NBA Street was console-only. It would’ve been tremendous to have the entire series on PC, but if I had to pick just one game, NBA Street Vol. 2 undoubtedly stands out. Just look at the modding projects for the GameCube version!
It’s difficult not to keep circling back to modding, as that’s one of the main advantages of PC releases. Once again though, putting aside all modding possibilities, PC gamers have missed out on some great basketball games, and the NBA Street series is a prime example. Many of us do play on both PC and console, allowing for the best of both worlds and avoiding the disappointment of console-only games. Whether it’s due to budget or personal preference, not everyone has that opportunity. It’s a shame that basketball games are a genre that has too often skipped the PC despite being multi-platform, but it does make us appreciate the great releases that we did actually get.
What are some of the console-only games that you wish were officially on PC? Have you invested in PC and console gaming to enjoy the exclusives and best releases on both, or do you stick with one platform? Have your say 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.