Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! This is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to basketball video games, the real NBA or another area of interest to our community, either as a list of five items or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.
In the wake of the stunned silence that followed my Undertaker-like streak of Fridays with a Friday Five being broken (alright, alright, I did miss one earlier this year, too), I’m back this week with a new column! A big thanks for all the topic suggestions, there were some great ones related to basketball video games, and I’m looking forward to tackling them in upcoming Fives. To that end, I’m actually writing about one of those topics today, specifically JaoSming’s suggestion of the Top 5 hardships of being a PAL region basketball gamer…though I’ve gone with “annoyances” because, you know, first world problems and all that.
Seeing as how I run a website that covers basketball games, living in a PAL region presents a somewhat unique hardship/annoyance/challenge for me, as news often breaks while I’m asleep. As such, I can’t always report or comment on developments as quickly as I’d like. That isn’t really a common problem though, seeing as how I’m the only PAL basketball gamer who’s also the webmaster of the NLSC, so I thought I’d keep the Five a bit more relatable. With that said, here are the Top 5 Annoyances of being a PAL region basketball gamer!
5. Metric Measurements in NBA Live 09 & NBA Live 10
Sometimes, it’s the little things that can make or break a video game, and basketball video games are no exception. Of course, even if a particular detail doesn’t break the game, it can make a certain aspect of it very frustrating. Case in point: player heights and weights in the PAL versions of NBA Live 09 and NBA Live 10, which were metric as opposed to imperial measurements. In other words, centimetres and kilograms, rather than feet, inches, and pounds.
Now, I have no problem with the metric system, generally speaking. Australia began phasing out imperial measurements in the 70s, and by the time I was born in 1984, the metric system was standard. As such, that’s what I was taught, and that’s what I’ve always used…except when it comes to basketball. Not surprisingly, most listings of NBA player measurements are in feet, inches, and pounds, so when creating players in those games, I’d have to make the appropriate conversions to give them their proper height and weight. If nothing else, it just didn’t look right in terms of having an authentic NBA presentation. Definitely annoying, but thankfully, no longer an issue.
4. Online Gaming Across Time Zones
Disney may insist that it’s a small world after all, and it is true that although we have many different beliefs, cultures, and customs around the globe, we’re all people, and more alike than we realise. It’s a beautiful thing that instils a sense of unity, and being a part of something greater than ourselves. Of course, we’re speaking metaphorically here; as someone who’s recently been on eighteen hour flights from the east coast of Australia to Orlando and back, I can attest to the world actually being a rather large place, when it’s all said and done.
I highly doubt I’m blowing any minds – in fact, I’m stating the obvious, almost patronisingly – when I say that the world is divided up into different time zones, and many of those time zones do not encompass North America, where the NBA is situated. And although there are basketball gamers all around the world, we’re obviously not all going to be online (or indeed, awake) at the same time. Even if we are, if it’s not the weekend, we’re probably playing during each other’s work or school hours. There are several reasons I’m not a big online gamer (though NBA Live 16 seems set to change that), and being based in Australia certainly hasn’t helped matters.
Oh, and speaking of time zones…
3. Missing Out On Locker Codes
Who doesn’t love free content? Well, you certainly like it a lot more when you can actually get your hands on it, and that’s been one of the biggest issues with Locker Codes in NBA 2K14 and NBA 2K15. This is actually something I’d like to dedicate an entire article to at some point, but the difficulty of snagging a limited Locker Code is cranked up to “Virtually Impossible” when you’re a PAL region basketball gamer. Once again, being in a different time zone means that you’re likely asleep, at school, or at work when those codes drop on social media.
In all fairness, you don’t miss out on every single Locker Code, because there are unlimited codes that have ample time to be redeemed, assuming you’re firing up the game on a regular basis. Unfortunately, those are the hit-and-miss codes that yield random animations in MyCAREER, player accessories, or best of all, a whopping 100 VC! The really cool MyTEAM cards are snapped up very quickly as it is, and if you’re highly unlikely to be around when the code drops because of where you are in the world, chances are you’ll never get one. Again, I’d like to go into this issue in more detail at a later time, but in short, regional code drops wouldn’t go astray.
2. Later Release Dates
Gladly, this is quickly becoming a thing of the past, and the situation hasn’t been quite as bad as some other games, but if you’re in a PAL region like Australia, you’re probably going to have to wait at least a couple of extra days to get your hands on the latest NBA Live or NBA 2K release. Thankfully, there usually hasn’t been any delay in demos hitting online distributors, but when it comes to the full version, we’ve traditionally had to be a little more patient. Getting back to something I mentioned earlier, as who’s someone covering the games for the basketball gaming community, there’s an added sense of frustration for me, on top of the usual eagerness to play.
There was one glorious year when we actually came out on top, though. The PC version of NBA Live 06 hit store shelves in Australia earlier than it was meant to; in fact, it was out before the North American release date, too. I was at my old job and browsing the Forum (sorry, boss!) when I saw someone post about what had happened, so I actually phoned my mother and asked if she could grab me a copy while she was out running errands. Of course, we made a big deal out of getting the game early, and so naturally, it never happened again. Well, I was actually able to play NBA Live 15 before the North American or Australian release dates, when EA hooked me up with a digital copy last year. Thanks again, AJ!
1. No NCAA Basketball Games
Not officially, at any rate. Because NCAA licensed basketball games weren’t available for sale outside of North America – as I understand it, a different party owns the international licensing rights – if you lived in a PAL region, you were out of luck. Well, you were for most of the titles in the last twenty years, or if you only had an Xbox 360 last generation, as I did. If you had a PlayStation 3 on the other hand, then you could have imported College Hoops 2K7, College Hoops 2K8, NCAA March Madness 08, NCAA Basketball 09, and NCAA Basketball 10, as the PS3 was region free.
Because I don’t follow college basketball too closely, I wasn’t affected by this as much as some other basketball gamers likely would have been, but I do still feel like I missed out. In fact, playing the games might have increased my interest in the amateur game. I remember hearing about some of the features of one of the NCAA March Madness games many years ago, and feeling disappointed that I couldn’t play it. College Hoops 2K8 is also widely regarded as a classic, and I do like the idea of playing a basketball game with fictional players. Of course, the inability to sell NCAA titles outside North America did lead to World League Basketball on Super Nintendo, an all-time favourite of mine. Still, it was a shame for PAL hoops gamers.
Fellow PAL region basketball gamers, can you relate to any of these annoyances? NTSC region basketball gamers, are you feeling lucky right now? Who here has had a lot of fun with college basketball games? Sound off in the comments 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.