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.
With this being April 1st, I originally considered posting some kind of April Fool’s Day gag. However, since we have visitors from all around the world, chances are that not everyone would see the column before 12 PM, which would actually make me the April fool. I’ve decided to stick with the theme of getting fooled though, because when it comes to basketball gaming, and indeed video games in general, some people are sadly out to trick their fellow gamers, and waste their time.
Although it’s often fairly easy to debunk what TV Tropes refers to as an “Urban Legend of Zelda“, sometimes it’s harder to get gamers to actually believe the truth rather than the rumour. After all, you heard it from your best friend’s sister’s boyfriend’s brother’s girlfriend that it was true, and why would they lie? Other genres of video games lend themselves to more outlandish and infamous fake secrets, but since basketball games have featured hidden and unlockable content, they’re not immune to their own hoaxes and rumours. Without any further ado, here are five codes and rumours that fooled basketball gamers.
1. Michael Jordan in NBA Jam
As I’ve previously discussed, Michael Jordan was absent in several basketball video games released in the 90s, especially in the latter half of the decade. While fellow long-time holdout Charles Barkley did actually appear in the initial version of the original NBA Jam, Michael Jordan did not. Well, that’s mostly true, anyway. As Mark Turmell has revealed in a couple of interviews, a few machines did feature a special version of NBA Jam that included MJ, but aside from those rare cabinets, he didn’t appear in the standard version of the game, or any of the home releases.
That didn’t stop gamers from making up rumours, though. After all, there were several other hidden players in NBA Jam, and Larry Bird was available in NBA Jam Tournament Edition. Why not Michael Jordan too, as the ultimate secret player? It would’ve been great, but unfortunately, he wasn’t in the game, despite what you might have heard on the playground back in the day. Any code or method of unlocking him that you were told about was nothing more than a ploy to get you to waste time punching in complex button combinations, or aiming for virtually impossible to achieve marks and milestones.
2. Dunk Contest in NBA Live 2004
This rumour circulated for a few games in the NBA Live series, but I recall it being associated with NBA Live 2004 in particular. That’s probably due to the fact that NBA Live 2004 did have some unlockables, so it might not have seemed like a stretch that doing something extraordinary would unlock a dunk contest. The most common method of supposedly achieving this was winning the championship, sometimes with the added condition of going the entire season undefeated. Doing so will probably leave you with a sense of achievement, but it won’t unlock a dunk contest.
As with most rumours of this nature, you can debunk this one with a search through the game’s files, which don’t include any assets for a dunk contest. Beyond that, it would be completely illogical to hide such a popular and much-requested feature behind a goal that’s difficult to accomplish. When the All-Star Weekend made its debut the following year in NBA Live 2005, dunk contest and all, it was heavily promoted before release, and spotlighted in the game’s intro. And why wouldn’t it be; such a strong selling point is not going be tucked away as a secret feature.
3. Unlock Isiah Thomas in NBA Live 2000 on Nintendo 64
Back in the day, I happened to get NBA Live 2000 for both the PC and Nintendo 64. I can’t remember the exact reason or circumstances of that double-dipping, as I wouldn’t have had as much disposable income at that time, but perhaps the N64 version was a gift, as I do remember buying the PC version myself. At any rate, the N64 version of NBA Live 2000 didn’t feature the full compliment of Legends that were available in the PC and PlayStation versions. Only Michael Jordan was unlockable, if you defeated him in the new One-on-One mode. In the PC version, all Legends are available by default.
At the time, I happened across a list of codes and secrets which mentioned that Isiah Thomas was unlockable on N64 if you tallied fifteen steals in a game. Naturally, I tried it a couple of times, but without any success. It’s safe to say that the code is a fake, though I have seen it listed as a means of unlocking Zeke in the PlayStation version. Of course, all of the Legends in the PSX version can be unlocked via codes in the menu, so I’m not sure if the fifteen steals unlock is a genuine code for it, either. I’m certainly sceptical, as it doesn’t really relate to any records that Isiah Thomas holds. At the very least, it’s false information for the Nintendo 64 release.
4. Various Fake Codes for NBA Live 96
Fake codes, secrets, and unlockables seem much more plausible when a game is already known to actually contain content of that nature. To that end, NBA Live 96 does indeed feature some secret players that can be unlocked via codes. I’ll probably talk about them in more depth at some point, but as I mentioned in a recent edition of Wayback Wednesday, the Super Nintendo version of NBA Live 96 accounted for the lockout of 1995 with an Expansion Draft feature, and unlockable rookies. A couple of other missing players, a few legends, and even some developers can also be unlocked via the Edit Player function.
The PC version contains a few unlockable developers, but the rosters were updated, and no missing players are available via codes. Despite what some codes pages claim, characters from Babylon 5 are not unlockable…at least, I’ve never been able to get the supposed codes to work. Additionally, entering REFLOG as your name on the Player Setup screen doesn’t launch a hidden mini-golf game – though I’ll admit I haven’t been able to try that on the Genesis version – and holding L+R doesn’t trigger a random team selection. A lot of codes pages have removed these fake codes, though they do remain on a few listings.
5. Cancellation of NBA 2K15 PC
Back in July 2014, a site whose name I’ve forgotten (and don’t care to mention, anyway) started posting information about the PC version of NBA 2K15, at one point “confirming” that it had been cancelled. Needless to say, that’s not exactly the news anyone wanting a PC release hoped to hear. Of course, not only was that untrue, but NBA 2K15 was the first PC release in the series that was a port of PlayStation 4/Xbox One version, which came as very welcome news when it was confirmed. In short, those reports were nothing more than misleading click-bait, wilfully spreading misinformation in an effort to drive traffic to the unscrupulous site.
Now, every site wants traffic. This very column, and indeed any other feature or news post that you read on the NLSC, is optimised for search engines as much as possible. Furthermore, any content we create is intended to appeal to basketball gamers, and encourage you all to keep coming back. But to do that through the deliberate posting of false information would be flat out irresponsible. Mistakes can be made – we’re certainly not immune to that – and when they do happen, one should apologise and post a retraction, or clarification. However, setting out to start unfounded rumours, and intentionally spreading misinformation as that site was doing, is just low.
Have you ever been taken in by a fake code or a rumour regarding a basketball video game that turned out not to be true? Have your say 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.