Saturday , Jan , 26 , 2013 Paul Eide

Top Five Old School NBA Video Games

Like the league itself, NBA video games have come a long way, baby.

HoopsVibe Very Quick Call: Today, you can design everything from the shoes a player will wear, to the baby momma he will hook up with.

But there is something to be said for simplicity. Last weekend at this exact moment, I was participating in a 40 man Tecmo Super Bowl tournament. And as I stood there, in “A” and “B” two button video games bliss, it really got my creative NBA video game juices flowing. What was the best video game from the 8 bit and then 16 bit era of NBA video games? 

The NBA Live series changed the entire “game” so to speak because it was the best on all fronts the minute it dropped. But prior to NBA Live, what was the best? Here are the first five I can remember because I own them:


The ultimate arcade basketball game. When this came out on Genesis it was played nonstop at my house. And since you could only use three letters to create a user profile to track your progress, names like “ASS” and “FU” were overused at households across America in the early 90’s, at near epidemic type levels. 

Bulls vs. Blazers and the NBA Playoffs

This….game…….so….slow. But for graphics and gameplay, it did what NBA Tecmo Basketball did for franchise mode. This was actually the third game in the series (preceded by Lakers vs. Celtics and Bulls vs. Lakers), but was the best because it was the height of the series.  There is some discussion about whether or not this game was the basis for the ensuing NBA Live series. I laughed so hard when I started a “Season” (which is actually just the playoffs) and it asked me for a password- When was the last time you had to enter a password? And it was always alphanumeric code, something you could never just remember.

NBA Tecmo Basketball

Currently, I’m the Orlando Magic and I’ve got a three games to one lead over the Portland Trailblazers in the NBA Finals. Jerome Kersey has been a beast averaging 25.3 ppg, while Clyde has been shut down by the smothering D of Jeff Turner. The game play leaves something to be desired here, but for stats, injuries, lineup changes, etc, this game set the early standard for “Franchise Mode” that all proceeding games emulated in some regard. Plus, it saved your season automatically– no password. That was life changing.

Double Dribble

The screenshots of players dunking, or missing dunks between plays was mind-blowing at the time. If you knew the right spots to shoot from in this game, you could hit almost every shot. Graphics and gameplay were smoking every other sports game on the market, considering it was 1986- there was just nothing else like this game for years. 

Jordan Vs. Bird: One on One

Released in 1988, could you even get two super studs of today’s NBA to collab on a video game? I’d play Kobe Vs. LeBron if it existed. It was as simple as it sounds- the league’s two best players going head to head in an empty gym.Other than one one one you could take them head to head in a dunk contest and a three-point contest. This game was the precursor to another great old school game, NBA All-Star Challenge for the Game Boy and later, the Super Nintendo.

What game did I miss? What do you think is the best old school NBA video game of all-time?


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