Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is another list of crazy roster mod ideas that I’m throwing out to the community.
March Modness is fast approaching, and I’m once again hoping to be a more active participant this year. Having finished the bulk of the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live content and built up a significant buffer for my weekly articles, I’ve been able to clear some space on the workbench for a bit of modding. There’s only so much that I’ll be able to get done though, which is a shame because I can’t help thinking of fun – and sometimes crazy – roster mod ideas. I’d love to be able to give them a try, but I want to finish up the projects I’ve already started before I move on to something new.
That shouldn’t stop someone else from considering these roster mod ideas though, if the crazy concepts appeal to them. Obviously, there’s more interest in comprehensive retro season mods, current rosters for old games, enhanced current rosters for the latest game, NCAA mods, Euroleague rosters, and so on. I don’t want to discourage the creation of those roster mods at all, because they’re fantastic projects and it’s always great to see them. However, if you’re in the mood to create and play with something that’s a bit different and quirky, then you may want to consider one of the crazy roster mod ideas that I suggested before, or one that I’m putting forth today!
1. A 1997 Season Mod With All Lower Case Names
So this is beginning with a fairly normal 1997 season roster mod, and then adding a twist based on the presentation of NBA Live 97. If you dust off NBA Live 97, you’ll notice that the presentation screams mid 90s: the graffiti effects, the colours, and of course, the complete lack of capital letters. Look, it was the decade of KEWL and EXTREME, and we didn’t care about proper punctuation, dude! All of the team names, all of the players’ names, were completely lower case. Sure, it meant that names like McCarty and MacLean didn’t look right, but that didn’t matter overmuch. It was about standing out, and I’d suggest that NBA Live 97’s aesthetic did just that.
Depending on the game, there are a couple of straightforward ways of doing this. The simplest method would be to just rename all of the teams and players to remove the capital letters accordingly. In a game where it’s possible to replace the default font files, it might be achieved through an all lower case typeface (ideally one that mimics NBA Live 97). The former may be more feasible and less intrusive, with the added bonus that any players the end user creates must also have their names entered in all lower case to fit in, just as in NBA Live 97. It’s a bit crazy to alter a 1997 season roster mod in this way, but it would add some fun authenticity to the presentation.
2. Re-Creating An Old Game’s Rosters Exactly
Speaking of capturing the spirit of classic games of yesterday, what about re-creating their rosters? And no, I don’t mean a normal retro roster mod from the season that a game is set in, such as a 1994-95 total conversion that you name “NBA Live 95“. No, I’m talking about re-creating the rosters from a game down to the last detail. In other words, only the players included in the default lineups – Roster Players and all – along with any mistakes and outdated details the game may feature. Naturally, this means the inclusion of players that only played for certain teams in games, players that only ever hit the NBA hardwood in the virtual sense, and retired players not yet removed.
On one hand, this may not have the same appeal as an authentic retro roster mod, but there’s something about this crazy idea that I like. Those old games captured specific snapshots of the NBA when they shipped with their outdated rosters. Sometimes, that included oddities such as Michael Redd playing for the Dallas Mavericks, rookies that were cut before the season and never made it back to the NBA, or very short stints such as David Vaughn playing for the Bulls in Kobe Bryant in NBA Courtside. Truth be told, it probably appeals to me because we once used older games as references for retro mods, meaning we replicated inaccuracies. In that sense, it’d be a fun throwback.
3. Bootleg NBA Rosters
There have been a handful of basketball games over the years that didn’t have the NBA license, and did their best to work around it. The game that springs to mind for me is Super Dunk Shot; the Japanese version of NCAA Basketball by Sculptured Software, which was also known as World League Basketball in PAL regions. I know I’ve covered the game in-depth for Wayback Wednesday, but for those who aren’t familiar with it, the original North American release on Super Nintendo includes Division I NCAA schools. Due to licensing issues, the PAL release was changed into a fictional global league, while Super Dunk Shot is essentially a bootleg NBA game.
I’ve discussed its wonderful team and player names in a previous article: Jordun of the Chicago Bills, Bard of the Boston Celeries, and the rest of the fantastic “how did they get away with this?” alterations of monikers and logos. Wouldn’t it be a crazy idea for a roster to take a 1992 mod – or any season, really – and change all of the names in the style of Super Dunk Shot? If you wanted to take it one step further, alternate logos with altered team names would be the icing on the cake, but even if it’s just the text that’s changed, you get the picture. It might sound extraordinarily silly, but it would be creating something based on basketball video games that we’d never see today.
4. All-Defunct/Renamed/Relocated Teams Roster Mod
Let’s consider a roster mod idea that’s slightly less crazy, but still out there. In my previous article, I suggested inverting the usual retro roster mod concept of adding great and otherwise memorable teams, and adding some of the absolute worst teams in NBA history. I still think that’d be a fun idea, but there are more concepts that we could consider along the lines of unlikely retro teams to include in video games. One that I’d like to throw out there is a roster comprised entirely of teams that are now defunct, or have since been renamed or relocated. As long as a team is no longer playing under certain branding, or its lineage has officially ended, it’s a candidate.
This covers teams that folded, such as the Providence Steamrollers, Chicago Stags, and the original Baltimore Bullets – the only defunct BAA/NBA Champion – as well as the Seattle SuperSonics, Charlotte Bobcats, New Jersey Nets, and Vancouver Grizzlies. As far as the specific squads that you’d include, you have a couple of viable choices. I’d suggest either the final squad those teams fielded under that branding (or before they folded), or the squad from their most successful season. The jerseys of some of these teams are included among the selection of retro uniforms in various games, which could help speed up the process, and determine which squad to include.
5. Time Travellers & Alternate Timelines
Alright, time to get really crazy with some roster mod ideas. I like the idea of “What If” rosters, but when I picture them, I think of scenarios that we almost saw: Tim Duncan going to the Orlando Magic, the Los Angeles Lakers trading James Worthy for Charles Barkley, and so on. I’m still a fan of that concept, but there’s room to rewrite history in much crazier ways. I’m talking retro rosters where you redo the Draft; say, a 1997 roster where the Philadelphia 76ers selected Kobe Bryant. Maybe Michael Jordan didn’t retire in 1993 or 1998. Perhaps Shaquille O’Neal remained in Los Angeles in 2004, patching things up with Kobe and competing for more rings.
Or, you could really start messing with the timeline. You could take a team or player and put them in the past, or bring a team or player into the present. The best part of this idea is that you could create some fun scenarios through minimalist modding. You could also turn it into a comprehensive roster project, but it could easily be as simple as adding LeBron James into NBA Live 99, or replacing the current Bulls in NBA 2K21 with their 1996 counterparts. Years ago for Wayback Wednesday, I added Steph Curry to NBA Live 95’s rosters, replacing his father. Look, it won’t settle these historical debates once and for all, but it’d create fun scenarios in a variety of games.
Do any of these ideas appeal to you? What are some crazy roster mod ideas that you’d like to see come to fruition? Have your say 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.