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.
As I’ve mentioned in a previous edition of The Friday Five, one of the unluckiest things that can happen in basketball gaming is the loss of a favourite save game. Whether you accidentally delete or overwrite it, or you intentionally delete it thinking you’ll never play it again, at some point you’ll grumble to yourself “I wish I still had that file”. Many of us learn the hard way to always make backups, and not to delete anything unless we’re absolutely, positively sure…and even then, probably keep a backup of it somewhere, just in case.
It’s been a while since I’ve lost a saved game, as I developed the habit of always saving my games in two slots, just in case. I also regularly make backups, so it’s been many years since I’ve lost anything that I wanted to keep. However, in the couple of decades that I’ve been playing NBA Live, there have been a few saved games that I’ve thoughtlessly deleted, or neglected to copy over to new computers. In this week’s Friday Five, I’m taking the opportunity to lament the loss of those saved games, and memorialise them.
1. NBA Live 96 – 1997/1998 Chicago Bulls Season
After I discovered the NLSC back in 1997, it didn’t take me long to get into creating roster patches. Because NBA Live 96 PC is one of my all-time favourite games, I was still playing and patching it a few years after it came out. After creating a 1997/1998 roster patch, I began playing through my version of the Chicago Bulls’ last championship season, even going to the trouble of losing the season opener on purpose, and making trades as they happened. I also made sure that Karl Malone missed one game, as per his suspension that year following an incident involving David Robinson and a dirty elbow.
The game got off to a rough start as I made an error in the patch, which resulted in Kurt Thomas (of all players) averaging over 100 points per game. Needless to say, I started the season again when I noticed that. I played through the entire regular season on twelve minute quarters, and was just getting into the Playoffs when my attention was drawn to something else. Sadly, the save didn’t survive the move to a new PC, and the floppy disk that I believe it was backed up on didn’t survive a cleanout. It’s not a save I’d play regularly or anything, but I’d still like to have it for posterity.
2. NBA Live 95 – Houston Rockets Season
This was a game that my cousin and I had going in the PC version of NBA Live 95, as we were replaying the 1995 season with the Houston Rockets. We liked to play twelve minute quarters, and we rotated through a few basketball games whenever he stayed with us during the school holidays, so it did take us a while to get through the season. To keep things interesting, we re-wrote history here and there, making some trades and even having Larry Bird make a surprising comeback for the Rockets. That of course led to me whipping up a hilariously bad image for my old site, the NBA Live Domain. Let’s all enjoy it together.
Outstanding! Anyway, from memory we didn’t make it through the entire season, but we were fairly close. As I said, we tended to rotate between a few of our favourite basketball games, in between watching NBA videos, and recreating our favourite highlights on my old hoop in the backyard. Nevertheless, it’s another saved game I’d like to have for posterity, a reminder of some really fun times hanging out with my cousin when we were in high school. I’m not sure that I ever had a backup of this one, so I guess you could say lesson learned.
3. NBA Live 2004 – Chicago Bulls Dynasty
I usually describe my Chicago Bulls Dynasty in NBA Live 06 as my favourite basketball video gaming experience, but my Bulls Dynasty in NBA Live 2004 is right up there as well. It’s the one time I’ve played the console version of NBA Live more than the PC version upon double-dipping, as the PlayStation 2 version came out first, and once I got going with the Bulls Dynasty, I was hooked. That was the game in which I traded Jalen Rose, Marcus Fizer, and Roger Mason Jr. for Kevin Garnett, leading to a 64-18 record and the 2004 championship.
I played every game of the first season and Playoffs – twelve minute quarters, of course – and then simmed much of the second, before winning back-to-back titles. As much fun as I had with it, I was done when NBA Live 2005 came out, so on the shelf it went. At some point, I traded in my copy of NBA Live 2004 PS2, and deleted the saved game from my memory card to free up space for something else. Of course, I’ve since picked up the game again for a few bucks on eBay to complete my collection, but sadly, the save is gone forever. It does live on in a way, however: I whipped up a re-creation of it for an upcoming 20th Anniversary of NBA Live feature. Stay tuned.
4. NBA Live 2000 – Portland Trail Blazers Franchise
This is another game that my cousin and I played together back in high school. When Franchise Mode made its debut in NBA Live 2000, we were both very excited, as it was something that we’d wanted to see in the game for years. I remember setting it up and making some preliminary moves while I talked to him on the phone before he arrived. We were determined to get through an entire season in a single two week break, so we opted for a 28 game season and the single elimination 1-1-1-1 Playoff format. We picked the Portland Trail Blazers, and traded for Shaquille O’Neal.
We couldn’t break the habit of playing full length quarters, but the shorter season length and our tendency to play into the early hours of the morning allowed us to accomplish our goal. With a stacked team – the 2000 Blazers squad facilitated a few blockbuster trades – we bulldozed our way through the league and won the 2000 NBA championship, celebrating with some microwave popcorn. We also made it a few games into the second season, trading for the first overall pick so that we could shoot for Rookie of the Year. If I hadn’t lost the save, I’d be inclined to fire it up and do a little simulating.
5. NBA Live 2002 – Sacramento Kings Franchise
If you’ve read any of my previous Friday Fives where I’ve discussed memorable basketball gaming experiences, you might have known that this one was coming. I’m going to be talking about NBA Live 2002 in more detail very soon, as I’m almost there in our 20th Anniversary of NBA Live retrospectives, but suffice to say it was a fun game despite being a controversial release (i.e. the first NBA Live to be console-only). Most of my enjoyment came from a Franchise game with the Sacramento Kings, where as usual, I was playing a full length season on twelve minute quarters.
Unfortunately, I never finished the first season. I was close, probably about 65-70 games through, but a couple of things got in the way here and there, and before too long, NBA Live 2003 was out and I had moved on. I always figured I’d go back and finish it somehow, perhaps simulating the rest of the regular season and playing some key games in the Playoffs. Like my NBA Live 2004 Dynasty however, the save was lost in a space clearing purge. I did get a little closure on it though, as it was another game that I recently revisited via a re-creation…but that’s a story for another upcoming 20th Anniversary of NBA Live feature.
Have you ever lost a favourite saved game, whether it’s in NBA Live, NBA 2K, or another basketball title? Mourn and reminisce 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.