Wayback Wednesday: The Original NBA Jam

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Re: Wayback Wednesday: The Jordan Challenge in NBA 2K11

Postby Andrew on Wed Feb 06, 2019 10:10 pm

February 6th, 2019: The Jordan Challenge in NBA 2K11

It recently occurred to me that while I've discussed Michael Jordan's presence in NBA 2K11 and ran a series of articles in which I went back and finished all the games in the Jordan Challenge, I've yet to post a retrospective dedicated solely to the mode. I've obviously discussed it in those previous features, but given how special the Jordan Challenge was, it's about time I rectify that. Besides, if responses to recent posts on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are any indication, a lot of people are still quite interested in talking about NBA 2K11!

They have a good reason to. NBA 2K11 was a milestone release, and while the failure of NBA Elite 11 was a factor, the quality of 2K's game combined with the addition of MJ and the Jordan Challenge led to it not only being very warmly received, but also becoming the first game in the series to top five million units sold. As much as any other mode or feature, the Jordan Challenge represents the way 2K has focused on the finer details, and been willing to innovate over the years. Let's take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: The Jordan Challenge in NBA 2K11

Postby tacitus kilgore on Wed Feb 06, 2019 10:21 pm

Andrew wrote:February 6th, 2019: The Jordan Challenge in NBA 2K11

It recently occurred to me that while I've discussed Michael Jordan's presence in NBA 2K11 and ran a series of articles in which I went back and finished all the games in the Jordan Challenge, I've yet to post a retrospective dedicated solely to the mode. I've obviously discussed it in those previous features, but given how special the Jordan Challenge was, it's about time I rectify that. Besides, if responses to recent posts on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are any indication, a lot of people are still quite interested in talking about NBA 2K11!

They have a good reason to. NBA 2K11 was a milestone release, and while the failure of NBA Elite 11 was a factor, the quality of 2K's game combined with the addition of MJ and the Jordan Challenge led to it not only being very warmly received, but also becoming the first game in the series to top five million units sold. As much as any other mode or feature, the Jordan Challenge represents the way 2K has focused on the finer details, and been willing to innovate over the years. Let's take a look back...way back...

Great read, it's so strange to me how early this decade 2K weren't afraid that only "old heads" would appreciate it, clearly with 2K11 being a consistent pick as the best sports game ever, it's almost hard to believe we're playing 2K19 and count it as part of that same lineage.

No other sports game ever made me feel the weight of what I was accomplishing like the Jordan challenge did for me, it was a concept you would think looks good in commercials but is hollow when you play it, but it's not.
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: The Jordan Challenge in NBA 2K11

Postby Andrew on Wed Feb 06, 2019 11:26 pm

Thanks, glad you enjoyed it!

The depth and the creativity of the mode were fantastic. If you grew up with that era, it was nostalgic. If you didn't, it was potentially educational. Perhaps with all the sneering at the opinions of "old heads" these days, it wouldn't go over as well, but I do miss having some kind of challenge mode that makes use of all the historical content. NBA's Greatest was obviously fantastic as well, especially with the way that they got the era-specific presentation to work.
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: The Jordan Challenge in NBA 2K11

Postby sticky-fingers on Thu Feb 07, 2019 12:50 am

Which was the hardest challenge for you ?
If i remember well, for me it was The Shrug. Hard to keep Drexler under 20, 6 3pt in first half and win the game.
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: The Jordan Challenge in NBA 2K11

Postby Andrew on Thu Feb 07, 2019 12:53 am

The Shrug was kind of tough when it came to keeping Drexler under 20. The hardest for me might've actually been Michael's Last Dance, trying to get four steals against Stockton and Hornacek.
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: The Jordan Challenge in NBA 2K11

Postby shinron15 on Thu Feb 07, 2019 2:04 am

Some interesting things about the Jordan Challenge also surround the cut content or mysterious removal of players. If you read the story about the 1991 NBA Finals, the story mentions how Jordan got around A.C. Green to lay it in, but A.C. Green is not present on the 1991 Lakers roster. Another oddity is Bill Walton being absent from the 1986 Celtics roster, since he's been in frequent 2K appearances.

As for the cut content, there are unused Cyberfaces for Greg Ostertag, Eric Snow, and Kevin Duckworth found within the game's files (with black arms). Duckworth was actually seen in an early screenshot of the game before being removed in the final version, which would've meant that the 1992 Trail Blazers would've been the only non-Bulls classic team to feature more than six real players.
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: The Jordan Challenge in NBA 2K11

Postby Andrew on Thu Feb 07, 2019 3:09 am

Great info! Definitely worth noting. Some of those players have since been licensed, but they're prominent omissions in the Jordan Challenge.
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: NBA Inside Drive 2000 Retrospective

Postby Andrew on Wed Feb 13, 2019 9:13 pm

February 13th, 2019: NBA Inside Drive 2000 Retrospective

I have an unusual history with NBA Inside Drive 2000. Following a hard drive crash in early 2000, my family finally ditched our venerable 486 DX2 66, upgrading to a much better system: a Pentium III! At the time, it meant that I could play most of the latest games, including NBA Live 2000. Even though I was enjoying NBA Live 2000 (and still hold it in high esteem), I was eager to pick up NBA Inside Drive 2000 when I saw it at my local store. Being a teenage gamer obsessed with basketball, I was keen to get my hands on any virtual hoops title that I could. NBA Live was the premier brand at the time, but other games usually had something appealing to offer.

Unfortunately, NBA Inside Drive 2000 just didn't click with me, and within a week, I exchanged it for GTA 2. I remember making up a story about how I couldn't get it to run even though I checked the system requirements first, which the staff believed (I'd feel guiltier about it if they hadn't ripped me off with a video card, and then made up a story about why it wasn't working properly rather than help me). Ironically, GTA 2 is my least favourite game in the Grand Theft Auto series, but that's another story. I've since picked up a copy of NBA Inside Drive 2000 off eBay, so what is it that I didn't like, and do I still feel the same way now? Let's take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: Barkley Shut Up and Jam!

Postby Andrew on Wed Feb 20, 2019 7:44 pm

February 20th, 2019: Barkley Shut Up and Jam!

Whenever someone or something is successful, you can be certain that a bunch of imitators will spring up. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but from the standpoint of a consumer, it usually leaves us with a marketplace full of knock-off products that don't match the original in quality. This phenomenon occurs quite often in video gaming, whenever a revolutionary title bursts onto the scene. In basketball gaming, few titles have had the same impact as NBA Jam, and the game that defined the subgenre of arcade hoops has inspired many imitators over the years.

These NBA Jam-style games have varied in quality. None have matched the games that inspired them, but a few have been solid in their own right. Others fell well short of replicating the fun arcade basketball action that NBA Jam pioneered. Since today is Charles Barkley's 56th Birthday, I'm profiling an NBA Jam clone that he endorsed: the more aggressively titled Barkley Shut Up and Jam! It's a game that you may be familiar with if you grew up in the 90s, but does it hold up as the original NBA Jam games do? Let's take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: NBA Jam TE All Threes Challenge

Postby Andrew on Wed Feb 27, 2019 11:15 pm

February 27th, 2019: NBA Jam TE All Threes Challenge

I enjoyed trying to win a game of NBA Jam Tournament Edition without scoring any points myself in a previous edition of Wayback Wednesday, so I thought that I'd try my hand at another challenge. This time, it's the All Threes Challenge. The goal is to win a game in NBA Jam TE while only shooting three-pointers; neither I nor my CPU teammate can score a basket from within the three-point arc. Analytics say that taking a lot of threes is the most efficient strategy and the way to win basketball games, but does that apply to the virtual hardwood as well? Let's find out as we go back...way back...


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Re: Wayback Wednesday: NBA Jam TE No Threes Challenge

Postby Andrew on Wed Mar 06, 2019 1:47 pm

March 6th, 2019: NBA Jam TE No Threes Challenge

Since I enjoyed dusting off the PC version of NBA Jam Tournament Edition to take on last week's All Threes Challenge, I decided to immediately follow it up with the complete opposite: the No Threes Challenge! This time, the goal is to win a game without hitting a single three-pointer; an easier task than in most of the sim titles, but potentially tough because of the way the CPU prevents inside shots with blocks and shoves. This won't be a hit with analytics enthusiasts, but I'm going to give it a try anyway, using the New Jersey Nets. Let's go back for a challenge...way back...


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Re: Wayback Wednesday: A Mistake Unnoticed in Over 20 Years

Postby Andrew on Thu Mar 14, 2019 12:24 am

March 13th, 2019: A Mistake Unnoticed in Over 20 Years

As I've mentioned on several occasions, NBA Jam Tournament Edition is one of my all-time favourite basketball games. While I own the game on both Super Nintendo and PC, I've always been partial to the latter. It's the version that I played the most, and I have many fond memories of playing the game with my cousin. One school holidays, we spent a lot of time playing with and against every single team, beating everyone to unlock all the secret players, and challenging ourselves to hit statistical milestones. For a while, it was a fixture of our basketball gaming rotation.

That's why it's so strange that I've never noticed a certain mistake in the game in over twenty years of playing it. While playing as the New Jersey Nets for the No Threes Challenge, I noticed that Kevin Edwards actually has Blue Edwards' portrait. I knew about both players and what they looked like, basically from the time I started playing NBA Jam TE, so it's really odd that it's never clicked until now. I thought that I'd see if I could delve into the issue further, so let's take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: A Mistake Unnoticed in Over 20 Years

Postby [Q] on Thu Mar 14, 2019 1:42 am

Hmm that's crazy. I had both versions but spent a ton of time on the SNES version so I was pretty confident about Kevin Edwards being on the SNES version but seeing as I didn't spend much time on the PC version, let alone playing as the nets, I didn't know there was a mistake and probably assumed Blue Edwards was actually on the Nets
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: A Mistake Unnoticed in Over 20 Years

Postby Andrew on Thu Mar 14, 2019 10:45 am

He definitely has the correct portrait on SNES, but yeah, it's never clicked that he has Blue's portrait on PC until now. It was fun to investigate, though!
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: Livin' Da Dream in NBA 2K16

Postby Andrew on Wed Mar 20, 2019 9:53 pm

March 20th, 2019: Livin' Da Dream in NBA 2K16

Career modes have come a long way since they were essentially franchise modes with player lock. The concept has continued to evolve this generation, with MyCAREER pioneering the use of in-depth stories to accompany the gameplay experience. This hasn't been to everyone's liking - indeed, I've been critical of the approach on more than one occasion - but there's no denying that a tremendous amount of work has gone into the production values of MyCAREER stories. 2K has also brought big names on board to bolster both the writing and performances of the tales told in MyCAREER.

After telling the story of competing with Jackson Ellis in NBA 2K14 and enlisting the help of several NBA players to voice themselves in cutscenes mentoring your player in NBA 2K15, 2K went all out in NBA 2K16. They brought in acclaimed (and now Academy Award-winning) director Spike Lee to develop a story for the mode that allows gamers to live out their dreams of playing in the NBA. That theme gave the story its title - Livin' Da Dream - and it was a significant milestone in the continuing evolution of MyCAREER. Let's take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: TV Sports Basketball

Postby Andrew on Wed Mar 27, 2019 8:47 pm

March 27th, 2019: TV Sports Basketball

Cinemaware is a name that may ring a bell for older gamers, but is likely unfamiliar to the younger crowd. That's because like so many other early game developers who went bankrupt by the 90s, they only exist as a brand and library of releases that has since been purchased by another company; in this case, Swedish game developer and publisher, Starbreeze. Cinemaware made some fine games in their day, and as with many other titles from the early days of video games, it's fortunate that they've been preserved and made available through another company purchasing their assets.

The Cinemaware game that I grew up playing had nothing to do with basketball. It was their first game, a medieval action strategy title called Defender of the Crown. As with many of Cinemaware's releases, it found its way onto several platforms, with the NES version being the one I own. Until I picked up the Cinemaware Anthology on Steam at Kenny's suggestion, I had no idea that they also released a basketball game for Amiga and MS-DOS in 1990: TV Sports Basketball. I enjoy discovering these old basketball games that I missed out on at the time and checking them out to see what they had to offer, so let's take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: Revamped NBA Live 96 Mods

Postby Andrew on Thu Apr 04, 2019 1:08 am

April 3rd, 2019: Revamped NBA Live 96 Mods

As I mentioned in my retrospective for NBA Live 96, the PC version is one of my all-time favourite games. It's the version that I played the most, the first NBA Live that I owned on PC, and the game that led me to discover the NLSC, years before I came to run it. After discovering the tools that Tim, Lutz, and Brien had made, I spent quite a bit of time modding the game. It's something I went back to for our 20th Anniversary of NBA Live content, when I created the Definitive NBA Live 96 mod.

Feeling like I had a bit of unfinished business with the game, I've gone back and made a few updates to the Definitive NBA Live 96 mod. I've also gone back and finished the Complete Update mod, which updates the game as of the 2001 season. The latter is a mod that I never finished as NBA Live 2001 came out while I was still updating it, and I thought it would be fun to finish it off for a Wayback Wednesday feature. You can download the two mods at those links, but I wanted to share a few thoughts as I went back to do some modding...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: The Evolution of MyCOURT

Postby Andrew on Thu Apr 11, 2019 12:09 am

April 10th, 2019: The Evolution of MyCOURT

When MyCOURT was first announced for NBA 2K15, it struck me as a gimmicky premise that wasn't really worth getting excited about. In all fairness, my reaction was partly due to NBA 2K14 souring me on MyCAREER after really enjoying the mode in NBA 2K13, but even putting that aside, it sounded like a superfluous feature that was banking on 2K's ever expanding "My" branding. As it turned out, MyCOURT has proven to be both a visually appealing hub for MyCAREER, and a means to get a hang of your player, try out custom jumpshots, and play some fun games.

Even as MyCAREER has adopted The Neighborhood as its primary game hub, our MyCOURT remains an important part of the game world. It's also been revamped and renovated since its debut in NBA 2K15, with some cool designs and new mini-games. Let's take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: The History of Jumpshots in Video Games

Postby Andrew on Wed Apr 17, 2019 10:23 pm

April 17th, 2019: The History of Jumpshots in Video Games

Jumpshots are a basic staple of basketball, and one of the most common ways of scoring; especially in the modern era. With that in mind, it's strange that they used to be one of the weaker aspects of the mechanics in basketball video games. In the early days of basketball gaming, jumpshots were nowhere near as reliable as they should have been. I even remember a strategy guide for NBA Live 96 basically advising against taking jumpshots and in particular long two-pointers, citing that they had all of the difficulty and risk of three-pointers, without the added reward of an extra point.

Thinking back on it now, that advice actually predicted the rise of analytics, as well as disdain for shooting from midrange. Of course, while opting for shots right at the rim or from beyond the arc and eschewing the midrange is all about efficiency in the modern NBA, in old school basketball video games, it was about effectiveness. Until the mechanics were properly developed, taking a jumpshot - even a wide open ten footer along the baseline - was unrealistically risky on the virtual hardwood. You can call this piece The History of Jumpshots in Video Games (Or, Why Shot Meters Are Important). Let's take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: The PDA in NBA Live's Dynasty Mode

Postby Andrew on Wed Apr 24, 2019 11:10 pm

April 24th, 2019: The PDA in NBA Live's Dynasty Mode

I'm keen to see NBA Live flesh out its franchise mode experience again. Not only is it a necessity as far as delivering a well-rounded game, but I've spent many, many fond hours with Franchise and Dynasty modes in older NBA Live titles. NBA Live was the first basketball game with an in-depth multi-season mode, and it continued to expand through its revamp into Dynasty. NBA 2K has obviously taken the experience much further with Association, MyLEAGUE, and MyGM, but during NBA Live's strong run back in the mid 2000s, many of us were really enjoying Dynasty's advancements.

Of course, not every new idea was a good one. The revamp into Dynasty mode took away the ability to control more than one team, and some of the staff development mechanics over the years have felt more video game than sim. However, perhaps the most problematic and annoying feature was the PDA, which made its debut in NBA Live 2005's Dynasty mode. As with most other concepts that didn't pan out, it did have some merit, but the drawbacks outnumbered or outweighed the benefits. Let's take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: The PDA in NBA Live's Dynasty Mode

Postby [Q] on Thu Apr 25, 2019 2:14 am

It's funny that the idea of a PDA is essentially what smartphones are now but PDAs don't exist anymore
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: The PDA in NBA Live's Dynasty Mode

Postby Andrew on Mon Apr 29, 2019 6:21 pm

Just an evolution of the concept.
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: The Little Things That I Miss

Postby Andrew on Wed May 01, 2019 11:14 pm

May 1st, 2019: The Little Things That I Miss

In 2019, we have an interesting relationship with nostalgia. It's popular to indulge in it, but in recent years, there's also been a significant backlash against reminiscing about the past and holding it in high esteem. The argument is often distilled into "old heads that can't get over their nostalgia filter" vs "clueless kids who don't understand the concept of recency bias". The conversation is further muddied when it comes to video games, because advances in technology have undeniably led to improvements over the years. Of course, there have also been undesirable changes and missteps.

These Wayback Wednesday features are obviously about celebrating nostalgia, but I also feel it's important to appraise how well games and their mechanics hold up, as well as make comparisons to other titles from the same era. I have a lot of fun doing that, and it's always interesting to revisit old favourites. It's given me an appreciation of ideas that were ahead of their time, and how far basketball video games have come. There are things that are best left in the past, but I've also encountered a lot of little things that I miss, and that's what I'm discussing today. Let's take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live Picture Editor

Postby Andrew on Wed May 08, 2019 11:23 pm

May 8th, 2019: NBA Live Picture Editor

For a veteran modder, there's something really fun and satisfying in breaking out the tools to edit an old game. The nostalgia in doing so is comparable to dusting off an old favourite to play it, as memories of all those hours tinkering come flooding back. I indulged in that nostalgia a month ago when I revamped a couple of my mods for one of my all-time favourite basketball games, NBA Live 96. Although I was satisfied to finally complete some unfinished business, particularly with the Complete Update for the 2001 season, I didn't have time to do any work on the portraits.

Editing portraits in NBA Live 95, NBA Live 96, and NBA Live 97 is done using a tool called the NBA Live Picture Editor. Co-developed by two of our founders, Tim and Brien, it's a nifty tool that wasn't put to use all that often for public releases. As such, it's somewhat overlooked in the history of our modding community. It's worth remembering though, so let's take a look back...way back...
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Re: Wayback Wednesday: The Original NBA Jam

Postby Andrew on Wed May 15, 2019 11:17 pm

Wayback Wednesday: The Original NBA Jam

It occurred to me that although I've been running these Wayback Wednesday features since 2015, I've yet to cover the original NBA Jam, released by Midway in 1993. I've talked a lot about its sequel, NBA Jam Tournament Edition, and even covered its spiritual predecessor, Arch Rivals, but I haven't profiled the famous game that tipped off an iconic series (and indeed, an entire subgenre of basketball gaming). That's partly because NBA Jam TE is one of my all-time favourite games, but it's about time that I fill in the gaps and talk about the original.

As an undisputed classic, it's difficult to say anything about NBA Jam that someone else hasn't already said. However, it's too fun, too amazing, and simply too important in the history of basketball gaming for me not to discuss it in a Wayback Wednesday feature. It brought us Fire, shattered backboards, and the legendary commentary of Tim Kitzrow...it's NBA Jam! Let's take a look back...way back...
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Release Topics: NBA Live 08 | NBA Live 07 | NBA Live 06 | NBA Live 2005 | NBA Live 2004
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