This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m offering up some trivia about NBA Live 98 and NBA 2K18.
NBA Live’s hiatus officially ends this week with the release of NBA Live 18. From playing the demo and reading a couple of the early reviews, I would have to say that the game definitely still has room for improvement, but has also made some pleasing strides since its reboot in 2013. I’m quite looking forward to playing NBA Live 18, but the title does make me reflect on how long I’ve been a part of the community. Before I took over the NLSC, I remember visiting it and checking out the news when NBA Live 98 was the upcoming game. By the time the preview season for NBA Live 08 rolled around, I was covering it myself here on the NLSC.
Since NBA Live 18 will be out in a couple of days, I thought it might be fun to look back at the previous two NBA Live games that were set in a season ending in eight. I’ve already posted an in-depth retrospective of NBA Live 98, and one is in the pipeline for NBA Live 08 as well, but these are some quick trivia notes about both games that I hope you will enjoy. With that being said, let’s take a look back…way back…
We’ll tip things off by going back twenty years to NBA Live 98, and a time when NBA Live was the dominant brand in sim basketball gaming.
- NBA Live 98 marked quite a jump in technology for the series. It was the first game to utilise fully 3D players and environments, as well as individual face textures. As such, the PC version is the first NBA Live to support 3Dfx graphics cards.
- The PC version also saw the first use of DBF files for its roster and season saves. This change made modding a lot easier, as the files can be opened by a number of readily available applications.
- Still on the PC version, its controls were finally expanded to make use of a multi-button gamepad, meaning that a steal button was finally available.
- The PlayStation version features a music menu where users can toggle the volume level of the individual background tracks, as well as skip to them. This menu also reveals the names of the menu tracks as “Paint Dance“, “Order in the Court“, “Fresh Trip“, and “Down to the Wire“.
- It’s the only game in the series to feature GM Mode (and only in the PC version). A forerunner to the franchise modes, it’s essentially a fantasy draft mode, with a single season of play.
- Charles Barkley made his first official appearance in an NBA Live game. Michael Jordan was still represented by a roster player, however.
- NBA Live 98 is the first game in the series to feature play-by-play commentary, with veteran sportscaster Verne Lundquist on the call.
- It’s the final NBA Live game released for the Super Nintendo, SEGA Saturn, and SEGA Genesis. Notably, the SNES version was not released in PAL regions.
- The Three-Point Shootout made its debut in NBA Live 98. It would return in NBA Live 99 and NBA Live 2000, and was then absent until finally returning as part of the All-Star Weekend in NBA Live 2005.
- Because the default All-Star rosters are from the 1997 season, Shawn Kemp appears on the Western All-Stars. However, due to being traded in the offseason, he is wearing a Cleveland Cavaliers jersey (as well as sporting number forty, whereas he wore number four with the Cavs).
- Motion capture talent included cover player Tim Hardaway, as well as NBA Live 97 cover player Mitch Richmond, Christian Laettner, Larry Johnson, and Joe Dumars.
Let’s jump forward ten years from NBA Live 98 – or if you prefer, go back ten years from today – and take a look at some trivia for NBA Live 08.
- The FIBA World Championship mode made its debut in NBA Live 08. The eight included teams were the United States, China, Argentina, Germany, France, Greece, Italy, and Spain.
- As noted in a previous Wayback Wednesday feature, data for a handful of classic teams can be found in the players.dbf file. This suggests that at one point, classic teams were planned (possibly instead of the FIBA teams), but were likely unable to be licensed. No other data or artwork for the teams is included in the game’s files.
- The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 version also saw the debut of Online Team Play, which was added post-release via a free update.
- New gameplay mechanics in NBA Live 08 included Quick Strike Ballhandling (an update to Freestyle Control), Own the Paint post controls, Hot Spots, and Go To Moves.
- Hot Spots and Go To Moves were included in the PC version of NBA Live 08, albeit in a more limited manner, and effectively replacing Freestyle Superstars. Signature jumpshots were also added, after making their debut in the Xbox 360 version of NBA Live 07.
- Despite being the cover player and known for making big shots under pressure, Gilbert Arenas has a paltry Clutch rating of ten in the PC and PlayStation 2 version. Amusingly, he is shown hitting a game-winner in the attract mode video in the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 version.
- The PC and PlayStation 2 version does not have an intro or attract mode video. There is an unused intro video among the game’s files, but it’s actually the intro from NBA Live 07.
- All of the Class of 2007 rookies are missing portraits, and a few of them have oddly overinflated ratings, including Morris Almond and Josh McRoberts.
- It was the first NBA Live game to be released on PlayStation 3 and the Wii.
- The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 version included a trivia game that could be played while a game was loading. This replaced the ability to shoot around as a game was loading, a feature present in the Xbox 360 versions of NBA Live 06 and NBA Live 07.
- And sadly, as of now, NBA Live 08 is the final game in the series to be released for the PC platform.
Over the past twenty years, NBA Live 98 and NBA Live 08 have both produced some memorable moments for our community (and seen some fantastic mods), so I hope that you enjoyed this quick look back at some noteworthy trivia for both titles. It remains to be seen whether NBA Live 18 can create some fond memories of its own, and be a big step for a series that has been trying to rebuild over the past couple of generations. We’ll certainly be covering NBA Live 18 and creating content for it here at the NLSC, but through features like Wayback Wednesday, I’ll always enjoy looking back at old favourites such as NBA Live 98 and NBA Live 08, too.