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 taking a look back at some NBA Live 99 and NBA Live 09 trivia, ahead of the release of NBA Live 19.
We’re just a couple of days away from the launch of NBA Live 19. It’s shaping up to be a good year for NBA Live, as the series continues its comeback after many years of rebuilding. Hopefully NBA Live will continue to go from strength to strength from here on out, as it did during its glory years of the mid 90s to around 2005. Back then, EA Sports were doing some very innovative things with the series, and it felt like every year brought something new to the table. As I said in my retrospective, that was certainly the case with NBA Live 99.
NBA Live 09 was also a good bounce back year for the series, and remains one of its best releases during the PlayStation 3/Xbox 360 generation. With the series having been around for over two decades, it’s interesting to look back at the game that came out ten years before the current one, and the one that was released ten years before that. With that in mind, I’ve compiled some NBA Live 99 and NBA Live 09 trivia, similar to what I did last year with NBA Live 98 and NBA Live 08. Let’s take a look back…way back…
NBA Live 99 Trivia
- NBA Live 99 was the second game to be affected by a lockout, following the console versions of NBA Live 96. As such, it shipped with final 1998 season rosters, and no Class of 1998 rookies.
- The PC version was the first game in the series to receive an official roster update along with the bug fix patches. The rosters updated the game for the 1999 season, complete with Dirk Nowitzki, Vince Carter, Paul Pierce, Mike Bibby, Michael Olowokandi, Antawn Jamison, and the other rookies.
- Because it shipped with final 1998 season rosters, NBA Live 99 was the last game in the series to feature a Roster Player in place of Michael Jordan on the Chicago Bulls. He was removed in the official roster updates that followed.
- Multiseason play made its debut in NBA Live 99, as an option in Season mode. There was no free agency or contracts, and players only improved and never retired, but it set the stage for Franchise mode in NBA Live 2000.
- The first official patch added the 50 game schedule of the lockout shortened 1999 season to the game. If you chose the 50 game option along with the aforementioned multiseason play, the schedule went back to 82 games for the 2000 season and beyond.
- Verne Lindquist was replaced by the late Don Poier as the play-by-play man. Poier would go on to be the voice of the series through NBA Live 2003.
- Practice mode made its debut, taking place on a generic street court. For many years, NBA Live would adopt this aesthetic for its practice and 1-on-1 modes. Additionally, unlike in later games, it was possible to shoot at both ends. The court could also be unlocked for 5v5 gameplay by typing playground while the game was loading.
- IP to IP online play wasn’t available in the menu options by default. It had to be unlocked via a cheat code, which appropriately enough was ilovelag.
- Unlockable developer teams returned in NBA Live 99, though there weren’t as many of them compared to NBA Live 98.
- Along with NBA Live 2000, it’s one of two games in the series that features a fully fledged Arcade Mode gameplay setting, aping aspects of NBA Jam and other arcade basketball video games.
NBA Live 09 Trivia
- Long-time NBA 2K gameplay developer Mike Wang (aka Beluba) worked on NBA Live 09. Beluba was also a member of the NBA Live 10 development team before returning to Visual Concepts when EA changed direction with NBA Elite 11.
- NBA Live 09 marked the beginning of EA Sports’ partnership with Synergy Sports Technology, with the introduction of NBA Live 365 and Dynamic DNA. The partnership allowed EA to add several new player tendencies and attributes that were powered by real life data, as well as update rosters and lineups daily.
- NBA Live 365 was a subscription service, however all new copies of the game contained a code that users could redeem. Gamers buying used copies with a code that had already been redeemed had to purchase a subscription if they wanted the updates.
- Despite the subscription only being advertised as lasting through the 2009 season, basic roster updates for NBA Live 09 continued through the 2010 season as well. It’s unclear as to whether or not this was intentional.
- To date, NBA Live 09 marks the final appearance of All-Star Weekend mode in the NBA Live series. Although the All-Star and Rising Stars games have been available in franchise and career modes, they’re unavailable as exhibition modes, and the Slam Dunk Contest and Three-Point Shootout likewise remain absent.
- The current gen and prior gen versions took different approaches with the new Be a Pro mode. On PlayStation 3/Xbox 360, it was a single game mode with player-locked gameplay, seemingly laying the groundwork for a future career mode. In the PlayStation 2 version, however, it was a very basic single season career mode with XP upgrades and primitive versions of other future features.
- Another feature that made its debut in NBA Live 09 was the NBA Academy. A practice facility branded with your team of choice, the Academy was both a new venue for shooting around in, as well as a component of Dynasty mode in which you could scrimmage with your team and take part in drills to develop your players.
- Much to the dismay of PC gamers, it was the first game since NBA Live 2002 not to be released on the platform, and at the time, only the second game in the series to be console-exclusive. As of NBA Live 19, the series has yet to return to PC.
- Due to the hasty relocation of the Seattle SuperSonics to Oklahoma City and their rebranding as the Thunder, the game shipped with the placeholder logos that the team used during the 2008 Summer League. The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions received a free update with the new logos, while the PS2 version was unfortunately stuck with the placeholder branding. The team’s name wasn’t updated however, so even in the PS3 and 360 version, they remained the “Oklahoma City Oklahoma City”.
- Pick & Roll Control made its debut in NBA Live 09, using basically the same mechanics as its current incarnation. Other features introduced in NBA Live 09 include Lockdown Defense, Signature Play Calling, the Quick Strike Ankle Breakers dribbling mechanics, and replay editing.
When I look back at NBA Live 99 and NBA Live 09, I see two classic entries in the series that included some exciting features and fun gameplay. With any luck, the new additions in NBA Live 19 will be just as groundbreaking, and it will join its fellow “year nine” predecessors as being a strong release. If nothing else, we won’t need a code to play on a street court, the career experience will last much longer than a single game or season, and there’s no lockout to worry about this year! Be sure to keep it locked to the NLSC for continued NBA Live 19 coverage, and of course, a look back at more of our old favourites every week in Wayback Wednesday.