Wayback Wednesday: A Tribute to MessenjahMatt

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Re: Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 2003 Soundtrack

Postby Andrew on Thu May 23, 2019 12:42 am

Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 2003 Soundtrack

Music is an integral part of video games, no matter the genre. It creates atmosphere, pumps you up to play, and forges a connection with gamers. As such, it's no surprise that a game's soundtrack becomes a significant part of our nostalgia, leading us to seek out tracks on YouTube or Spotify, or contributing to the rush we feel when we fire up an old favourite once again. Many games have brought us original scores that have subsequently become iconic, but the inclusion of licensed songs has led to a lot of debates about the best soundtracks in video games.

That debate has naturally produced a variety of answers when it comes to basketball games, but there's one playlist in particular that a lot of gamers mention: the NBA Live 2003 soundtrack. Many of its tracks have come to be associated with the game, and the album release was certified platinum, a first for a video game score. Let's take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: The Lost Retro Teams

Postby Andrew on Thu May 30, 2019 12:07 am

Wayback Wednesday: The Lost Retro Teams

It's easy to take the retro teams in NBA 2K for granted. They've been a staple of the games since the introduction of The Jordan Challenge back in NBA 2K11, to the point where a lot of gamers no longer consider them bonus content; they're something we expect to see in the games. There was a time, however, when it didn't seem likely due to the hurdle of likeness rights. Indeed, a few years before 2K made it a reality, EA Sports made some preliminary steps towards including retro teams in NBA Live 08, ultimately scrapping the idea when they couldn't license all of the players.

While it does seem like the concept of retro teams is here to stay - and there are plenty of ideas for new ones that could be added - not all of the previously included squads remain in NBA 2K. Over the years, a total of ten retro teams have been cut after being included in at least one game, though four of them would be replaced by a squad from around the same era. Let's take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: A Long-Lost NBA Live 07 Preview

Postby Andrew on Wed Jun 05, 2019 11:44 pm

Wayback Wednesday: A Long-Lost NBA Live 07 Preview

The NBA Finals often brings us our first glimpse of the upcoming sim titles, though for the moment, both EA Sports and Visual Concepts are remaining tight-lipped. I've previously reflected on how the preview seasons seemed longer and more exciting in years gone by, and that was certainly the case in the mid 2000s. Back then, a lot of sites (including the NLSC) were on a mailing list for preview assets from EA. As the 2006 NBA Finals began, we received a press release detailing a simulation of the series in NBA Live 07, some prior gen screenshots, and new gen gameplay.

Unfortunately, we then received a directive from EA Sports that the feature and all of the media needed to be immediately pulled, as they contained something that wasn't meant to be seen yet. As such, it would be a few weeks before we received any media that we could publish, and that 2006 Finals simulation in NBA Live 07 was lost to time. It's something I've kept in my archives though, and since the Finals are upon us, it seems like a good time to bring it out of the vault. So, what was the result of the simulation, and why was the feature pulled? Let's take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: Reimagining The Jordan Challenge

Postby Andrew on Wed Jun 12, 2019 9:49 pm

Wayback Wednesday: Reimagining The Jordan Challenge

The Jordan Challenge was a significant milestone in basketball gaming. In celebrating the career of Michael Jordan, it achieved what once seemed impossible: adding actual retro teams, rather than just a collection of Legends on Decade All-Star squads. Retro teams would be established as the norm, and the mode also paved the way for NBA's Greatest the following year in NBA 2K12. The Jordan Challenge is a mode that I've profiled in a Wayback Wednesday feature, as well as gone back and finished. It's a lot of fun, and a great achievement in one of the best NBA 2K titles.

With that being said, The Jordan Challenge isn't perfect. As I've previously noted, the ten challenges do lack variety. Three of them are set in the 1990 season, recycling the 1990 Chicago Bulls and taking up spots that could've gone to other memorable games from MJ's career. It doesn't ruin the mode, but looking back, the inability to license certain players did limit it somewhat. With that in mind, I'm doing something a little different for this week's Wayback Wednesday, and reimagining The Jordan Challenge with some additional and alternative games. Let's take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: Shaquille O'Neal & NBA Live

Postby Andrew on Wed Jun 19, 2019 9:57 pm

Wayback Wednesday: Shaquille O'Neal & NBA Live

Before the 2019 NBA Finals tipped off, it was noted that the series marked the 35th year in a row that the league's championship round featured a player who was at one time a teammate of Shaquille O'Neal. It's not the first time that Shaq's connections to a Finals participant has come up, but with LeBron James' offseason move to the Los Angeles Lakers after eight consecutive Finals appearances with the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers, there was speculation that the streak may finally come to an end. Thanks to Danny Green and the champion Toronto Raptors, it remains intact.

With a nineteen year career that began in 1992 and ended in 2011, and saw six stops along the way, the streak is arguably less surprising than it seems. Given the number of journeyman he played with, and his own nomadic nature later on in his career, it's no surprise that there are connections stretching out in both directions. On the virtual hardwood, Shaquille O'Neal has a similar streak of longevity, particularly when it comes to the NBA Live series. Let's take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: Training Camp in NBA 2K12

Postby Andrew on Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:15 am

Wayback Wednesday: Training Camp in NBA 2K12

In recent years, it's been noted that the NBA 2K series has been increasingly geared towards appealing to the hardcore online crowd. In a Reddit post that I've mentioned before (and no doubt will again), a former EVE Online developer has noted the series' increasing focus on catering to elite players, and apparent hostility to newer gamers who are trying to hone their skills on the virtual hardwood. It's fostered the "get gud" mindset, while failing to provide the onboarding, opportunities, and fair matchmaking that would allow less experienced players to strive for that.

As noted in that Reddit post, it wasn't always that way. Earlier this decade, the NBA 2K games were going out of their way to teach gamers all of the basic and advanced controls, in an environment that was both helpful and creative. Those efforts began with the introduction of Training Camp in NBA 2K12, a feature that would carry over into NBA 2K13 and prior gen NBA 2K14. Let's take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: Kobe Bryant's Fictional NBA 2K10 Cover

Postby Andrew on Wed Jul 03, 2019 11:47 pm

Wayback Wednesday: Kobe Bryant's Fictional NBA 2K10 Cover

Since the preview season officially tipped off with the reveal of NBA 2K20's cover players, I thought it would be appropriate to look back ten years to NBA 2K10. If you poke around for NBA 2K10 images on Google, you'll no doubt come across a version of the cover featuring Kobe Bryant in a New York Knicks jersey; a uniform he never wore during his career. Of course, many basketball gamers have made mock-up and fictional alternate covers for various games over the years (to say nothing of bootleg copies), and they tend to show up in Google Image searches as well.

What's interesting about this particular cover is that it's an official fake, if that's not too much of a contradiction in terms. More specifically, it's an image that 2K made following the announcement that Kobe would be appearing on the cover. What's the story behind this unusual cover that no doubt made Knicks fans wistful, and Lakers fans cringe? Let's take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: Old School Season Modes

Postby Andrew on Wed Jul 10, 2019 11:28 pm

Wayback Wednesday: Old School Season Modes

Modern basketball games have their issues which are important to discuss, but one thing we can't say is that they don't offer a variety of experiences. Even though NBA Live's modes are still in need of fleshing out, by including Franchise, Ultimate Team, and The One with its connected experiences, we're presented with a few choices. One of NBA 2K's strengths for many years has been its deep modes, with MyLEAGUE, MyGM, MyTEAM, and MyCAREER's online and offline modes keeping us hooked year after year. We're provided several different ways of playing virtual basketball.

As much as the controls, graphics, physics, and any other aspect of modern titles, it's the modes that make old basketball video games look primitive. The most in-depth experience on offer was generally the single Season mode, with minimal GM options and no independent action by the CPU teams. Nevertheless, we made the most of those old school Season modes, until they evolved into the multi-faceted, multi-season experiences that they would eventually become. They're an important step in the evolution of basketball gaming, so let's take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: Running With the Bulls in the Early 2000s

Postby Andrew on Thu Jul 18, 2019 12:13 am

Wayback Wednesday: Running With the Bulls in the Early 2000s

Dusting off old favourites and other interesting hoops titles from yesteryear makes me feel old myself, but that doesn't compare to the knowledge that my favourite team, the Chicago Bulls, are twenty-one years removed from their most recent championship. It was an incredible time to be a Bulls fan in the 90s, though it has made the subsequent ups and downs quite frustrating to endure at times. It's been difficult watching them miss out on top free agents, lose their own promising players through free agency or questionable trades, and endure misfortune such as Derrick Rose's multiple injuries.

Of course, the virtual hardwood is a place where frustrated NBA fans can turn around the fortunes of their favourite team, and I've created some fun memories running with the virtual Bulls over the years. In the aftermath of The Last Dance, I've overachieved with the Baby Bulls in my memorable NBA Live 2004 and NBA Live 06 Dynasties. More recently, I've taken them to back-to-back championships in MyCAREER. In the early 2000s however, it was rough playing with them in video games, as I'm sure my fellow long-time gamers and Bulls fans can attest. Let's take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: Mystery Teaser Covers

Postby Andrew on Wed Jul 24, 2019 10:02 pm

Wayback Wednesday: Mystery Teaser Covers

As discussed in Episode #291 of the NLSC Podcast, there's currently a bit of worried speculation regarding NBA Live 20, due to a lack of news. While there's evidence to suggest that those concerns are jumping the gun, it is unusual that there haven't been any official announcements regarding this year's expected release from EA Sports. It isn't the first time that news about NBA Live has been slow, or that the cover player ended up being announced quite late, but given the series' rocky history over the past decade, the speculation is at least understandable.

Speaking of cover players and reveals, that's something which has become a much bigger deal than it used to be a long time ago. Back in the 90s, long before basketball titles and gaming in general became the juggernaut of today, there wasn't nearly as much importance placed on the cover player. A star was generally preferred, but it wasn't always a top tier player. Quite a few games settled for "someone who's in the NBA", who may or may not have a chance at becoming a superstar. It wasn't until NBA Live 2003 that the cover player was a big part of the pre-release hype, which also started a trend of mystery teaser covers. Let's take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: MJ on the Japanese NBA Live 2002 Cover

Postby Andrew on Thu Aug 01, 2019 12:14 am

Wayback Wednesday: MJ on the Japanese NBA Live 2002 Cover

I like to think I'm fairly knowledgeable when it comes to the history of basketball video games, but from time to time, I learn something new about one of my favourite hobbies. Back in the 90s, I had no idea that one of my favourite hoops games on the Super Nintendo, World League Basketball, was released as an NCAA game in North America. I knew about NBA Action '98, the precursor to the NBA 2K series, but I didn't know that the PlayStation version was titled NBA Fastbreak '98. And I certainly didn't know that Michael Jordan was on the Japanese cover of NBA Live 2002!

Based on the responses to a Tweet I made, it seems I'm not alone on that last point. It wasn't until I happened across Japanese copies of NBA Live 2002 on eBay several years later that I became aware of it, as it was never referenced in any other region. It's an interesting collectable for many reasons, from the rarity of seeing His Airness in early video games or on video game covers, to him being featured in a Wizards jersey. I was delighted to add it to my collection, knowing that it would also make for a fun Wayback Wednesday topic. Let's take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: Vince Carter & The NBA Live 2000 Sim

Postby Andrew on Wed Aug 07, 2019 11:27 pm

Wayback Wednesday: Vince Carter & The NBA Live 2000 Sim

Some nineteen years ago, my cousin and I spent an afternoon simulating way into the future in the brand new Franchise mode in NBA Live 2000. Back then, the year 2020 seemed so far away, and yet, we're only four months away from the calendar flipping over into that futuristic annum. Keeping with the theme of Wayback Wednesday, I'll quote a classic 1980s film by John Hughes and say that life moves pretty fast. Ferris Bueller was right on the money with that line, and one only has to look at the NBA to see how a couple of generations of stars have seemingly come and gone in a blink.

A name that still remains on an NBA roster all these years later is Vince Carter. The future Hall of Famer known as Vinsanity and Half-Man, Half-Amazing, has just re-signed with the Atlanta Hawks to play in his 22nd and final NBA season; a record that will see his career span four different decades. As the last player standing from the 90s, Vince Carter is also the last active player from NBA Live 2000 still in the league. Would virtual Vince stick around as long as his real life counterpart? What about some of the other stars? To answer that question, I'm simulating until today in NBA Live 2000's Franchise mode! Let's take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: Vince Carter & The NBA Live 2000 Sim

Postby [Q] on Thu Aug 08, 2019 7:39 am

Cool idea. I think Kobe could have made it had it not been for all the injuries, especially the Achilles

Maggette is still playing and playing well, but in the Big 3.
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: Vince Carter & The NBA Live 2000 Sim

Postby Andrew on Thu Aug 08, 2019 7:11 pm

I actually meant to mention the BIG 3, but forgot. Kobe playing longer if not for his injury does seem like a distinct possibility. Funnily enough, he was still active in the 2019 season when I did a similar exercise with NBA 2K10 last year.
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: Fictional Warriors Jersey in NBA Live

Postby Andrew on Wed Aug 14, 2019 10:25 pm

Wayback Wednesday: Fictional Warriors Jersey in NBA Live

I replaced my Xbox 360 last week, after the optical drive failed in my old console. It's good timing too, as I need to fire up the NBA Live games from that generation to get a few screenshots and check a few details as we tip off our 25th Anniversary of NBA Live content this month. Beyond that, I get to dust off a few games I haven't played in a while and enjoy them again. For example, I haven't played NBA Live 10 much since I covered The Hangar in a previous Wayback Wednesday feature. Messing around with it as I tested my replacement console, I remembered what a solid release it was.

While I was spending some time with NBA Live 10, I also remembered the fictional jersey that was available for the Golden State Warriors. It originally appeared in NBA Live 09, and was an exclusive to EA Sports' basketball series. What's the story behind this unusual alternate home uniform? I know that JaoSming covered it in a Dumb Mondays article some years back, but hey, it deserves the Wayback treatment as well. With that in mind, let's take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: A Tribute to MessenjahMatt

Postby Andrew on Wed Aug 21, 2019 10:18 pm

Wayback Wednesday: A Tribute to MessenjahMatt

I enjoy dusting off old games for retrospective reviews and profiles of interesting features and quirks, but every so often, I think it's only appropriate to look back at the history of the basketball gaming community. I've done that a few times already in my Wayback Wednesday features, mostly focusing on memorable mods as that's what our corner of the community is best known for. However, that's not the only kind of content that hoops gamers have seen fit to create over the years. With the steady rise of YouTube, countless virtual hoopsters have been producing video content.

Some great producers have emerged over the years, and it's been inspiring to see. It's the reason I've tried my hand at some video content myself, and if I could make the time, I'd love to do it more often. I'm sure we all have our favourite video producers, some of whom have been at it for several years now. One of the all-time best video makers has to be MessenjahMatt, who wowed gamers and no doubt inspired many who have gone on to create their own content. His work is legendary and deserves to be spotlighted, so let's take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: A Tribute to MessenjahMatt

Postby sticky-fingers on Wed Aug 21, 2019 10:53 pm

Great tribute (Y)
From time to time, i watch his videos again, his work is STILL amazing.
my NBA2K : YouTube | flickr

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Re: Wayback Wednesday: A Tribute to MessenjahMatt

Postby Andrew on Wed Aug 21, 2019 11:06 pm

Thanks! I felt it was overdue. His videos are always worth revisiting.
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