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 more examples of false memories of basketball games.
A lot of people don’t want the truth to get in the way of a good story. Many others simply don’t have as good of a memory as they believe they do. Let’s face it: most of us have remembered something incorrectly at one time, particularly when it comes to video games (basketball or otherwise). As I said in my previous Friday Five article on this topic, there are plenty of reasons for this: rumours and urban legends that just refuse to go away, fuzzy memories of games we haven’t played for many years, or forgetting that something was the result of a mod and not in the game by default.
This week, I’m taking a look at five more examples of false memories in basketball gaming, while once again trying to get to the bottom of how those faulty recollections came about. Sometimes it’s the aforementioned lapses in memory, or changes made by mods being remembered as default features. Other times, it’s the result of technical limitations. Less benignly, it may be deliberate misinformation, or at the very least, exaggeration to make a point that results in the truth getting mixed up with hyperbole. Whatever the case may be, we’re left with false memories of basketball games, and I’ve got five more examples that I’d like to debunk today.
1. Sound Effects Indicating Comeback Logic
Comeback logic – sometimes referred to as comeback code, which can be confusing as people erroneously think it refers to a cheat code – remains a contentious mechanic in basketball titles, and video games in general. If you’ve ever thought that the CPU cheats to remain competitive in video games, you’re absolutely right about that! There are usually telltale signs that the comeback logic is kicking in: all of your players will suddenly forget how to play basketball while your CPU opponents gain superhuman abilities, no calls will go your way, and so on. You’ll know when the CPU is turning up the cheese, because the game will suddenly feel contrived and artificially difficult.
Something that you won’t experience, however, are sound effects indicating that the comeback logic has started to impact the game. This is contrary to a post I once saw in the NLSC Forum, asserting that a loud “boing” sound effect would play in NBA Live whenever the CPU was making a comeback. Look, my knowledge of NBA Live isn’t infallible, but I’ve played the series extensively, and I can say with confidence that that simply doesn’t happen. Considering that the post in question also asserted that this would continue to happen whenever they reloaded a saved game, in a title that didn’t have in-game saves no less, these are either false memories or outright lies.
2. Various Secret Players in Home Versions of NBA Jam
NBA Jam, not unlike its fellow Midway production Mortal Kombat, has spawned a ton of rumours over the years. It’s the result of the developers actually cramming a ton of secrets into the game, from cheat codes to hidden players. Naturally, gamers started making up and spreading rumours about players who weren’t actually in the game. I even tried it once myself, only the friend I was telling it to saw right through my BS and shut it down (cue Tim Kitzrow saying “Rejected!”). Of course, sometimes it wasn’t a case of rumours and urban legends, but rather confusion over the different versions of the game. This confusion formed the basis of a few false memories.
The same can be said of Mortal Kombat of course, and in fact, MK has contributed to some false memories of NBA Jam. You may have seen footage of Mortal Kombat characters such as Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Reptile, and Raiden donning sneakers to hit the hardwood, and it’s not a hoax. Those Kombatants were secret characters in the arcade version of NBA Jam, but given the violent nature of the game they originate from, the NBA wasn’t too keen on it. As such, outside of any ROM hacks you might find, they aren’t playable in any of the home versions. That hasn’t stopped gamers from getting mixed up and remembering playing with them on console, though.
3. Colour of The Hangar’s Apron
I have to put my hand up and admit that this one of my false memories. When I made a practice court for NBA Live 08 based on The Hangar in NBA Live 10, I made the apron around the court brown. This is because I remembered the apron being brown in the original game, and when I went back to check some screenshots that I’d taken – as well as fire up NBA Live 10 itself – it certainly appeared that way. Imagine how surprised I was when I popped in NBA Live 10 recently and noticed that the apron was clearly black! Now, I do need to wear glasses to drive, but I don’t have any problems with colours. It’s odd that both my eyes and my memory deceived me.
After I brought up these false memories with Arcane, he pointed out that it was likely the result of my old TV and input method. When NBA Live 10 came out, I was still using my Xbox 360 with a CRT television, and using composite input rather than HDMI. Looking back, it was the same reason I used to think that the menu text was too small and unclear; it wasn’t the game, it was my TV! Even when I replaced that TV, I never noticed that I’d gotten the colour wrong. It wasn’t until I got a much better TV that it was clear. What’s strange is that no one ever called me out on it. Perhaps it came across as a design choice to emphasise the lines. Uh, sure, let’s say that it was…
4. Extra Teams in NBA Live on 360/PS3
The Xbox 360 version of NBA Live 06 is generally pinpointed as a major turning point in the quality of NBA Live. Previous games (and the prior gen version of NBA Live 06) had their issues, but the game was generally well-regarded. The 360 version was missing Dynasty mode and several other staples however, including Legends, retro jerseys, and bonus teams. Gamers may remember that the retro jerseys would return by NBA Live 10 – and that the Legends teams never did – but may not recall that the bonus teams would be brought back. Until I double-checked when I was writing the article on bonus teams, I had false memories of them still being absent.
In all fairness, we can be forgiven for forgetting they’d been brought back because they were very much an afterthought on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. They were also overshadowed by other additions, such as the FIBA teams. As I mentioned in my Wayback Wednesday feature, interest in those bonus teams was declining anyway, and the addition of retro teams in NBA 2K beginning with NBA 2K11 makes them feel like a very outdated concept. I don’t think many of us were playing with them as that decade was drawing to a close, which is why we don’t have many memories of them; or indeed, have false memories of them being absent, as the case may be.
5. Dream Teams in NBA Live 08
There’s currently a mistake in the article on NBA Live 08 over on Wikipedia. I’m currently more concerned about getting our own resources up to date, but if there’s anyone around these parts who does contribute to Wikipedia, it’s something to clean up. In the section on the national teams included for the new FIBA tournament mode, it mentions that two Dream Teams were available alongside the contemporary USA team. This is false. There are only eight national teams in the game, up to date as of around 2007. A majority of the players on the two Dream Teams that are allegedly in the game weren’t even licensed to appear in any version of NBA Live 08.
Mind you, I should probably take some pride in that misinformation being added to the article, as it’s my doing. No, I don’t mean that I added it to the article myself, but someone has mistakenly done so after using one of the last NLSC roster updates I made for NBA Live 08, in which I added the original Dream Team and Dream Team III as bonus content to make up for my waning involvement in keeping those old games up to date. If you remember the Dream Teams being in NBA Live 08 along with the eight contemporary FIBA teams, it’s because you were using my rosters. I’m not an expert on Wikipedia’s policies, but I’d say false memories aren’t valid citations.
Have you ever had any recollections of basketball games that turned out to be false memories? Are there any commonly held false memories that you’d like to debunk? Have your say in the comments section below, and 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.