NBA Live 96

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NBA Live 96
NBA Live 96 Cover.jpg
cover featuring Shaquille O'neal
Developer(s) PlayStation/MS-DOS: EA Canada
SNES/Sega Genesis: Hitmen Productions
Game Boy: Tiertex Design Studios
Publisher(s) Electronic Arts, THQ
Series NBA Live
Platform(s) PC, PlayStation, SNES, Sega Genesis, Game Boy
Release [1]DOS
  • NA: December 31, 1995
  • NA: March 1996
  • EU: May 1996
  • JP: June 14, 1996
  • NA: October, 1995
  • EU: November 23, 1995
[4]Sega Genesis
  • NA: 1995
  • EU: November 30, 1995
[5]Game Boy
  • EU: January 22, 1996
  • NA: March 1996
Genre(s) Sports (Basketball)
Mode(s) Single-player, Multiplayer (Head to Head or Cooperative)

NBA Live 96 is the second installment of the NBA Live video games series. The PC and PlayStation covers features Shaquille O'Neal of the Orlando Magic, while the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Genesis box covers show a photo of the tip-off to Game 1 of the 1995 NBA Finals. The game was published by EA Sports and released on November 30, 1995. The PlayStation and PC versions were the first games in the series to feature a 3D rendered court, allowing for multiple camera angles using EA's "Virtual Stadium" technology (also used by FIFA Soccer 96). The on-court player graphics remained 2D sprites. It was also the first NBA Live game released for the PlayStation. NBA Live 96 is followed by NBA Live 97.


  • Live 96 introduced the Free Agent pool and Create-a-Player to the series. The create-a-player feature was left out of the PlayStation version in order to meet the deadline for the game's release.[6]
  • The first NBA Live to utilize Virtual Stadium Technology and multiple camera angles.
  • Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley were not included due to licensing issues. They did however exist as hidden players in the console version of the game. Players could unlock them by entering their surnames (along with the surnames of various legends and rookies from the draft class of 1995) in Create-a-Player.


The player sprites were rendered on Silicon Graphics workstations.[7]


A review of the Genesis version in Next Generation gave strong approval to the game's new features, particularly the post-up move and the create-a-player feature. They gave the game a perfect five out of five stars, concluding, "While the action and graphics in Slam 'N' Jam ... for 3DO are still superior, NBA Live '96 for the Genesis is the best basketball simulation out there, anywhere."[8] Next Generation gave the SNES version a reduced score of four out of five stars, explaining that "the game's essential lack of defensive play and offensive strategy make this cart pale in comparison to Genesis' version as a simulator." The reviewer elaborated that in the SNES version the player can easily score with repeated dunks, and concluded that the game, though the best SNES basketball game yet released, pales against the Genesis version.[9] They later named the Genesis version number 76 on their "Top 100 Games of All Time".[10] Johnny Ballgame of GamePro said the SNES version "is bigger and badder than previous versions on the SNES, and it's the first to be comparable to the acclaimed Genesis versions of the past." He praised the new features, excellent controls, improved graphics, and "jammin' soundtrack".[11] He found the Genesis version inferior to the SNES version with its smaller sprites, fewer colors, and less smooth opening music, but still outstanding in absolute terms.[12]

Johnny Ballgame was less enamored of the PlayStation version, stating that the removal of the create-a-player feature seen in earlier versions of the game, the substandard graphics, and the erratic camera make it an overall mediocre effort. He particularly remarked that the game fails to measure up to NBA ShootOut, which was released in the same month.[13] The two sports reviewers of Electronic Gaming Monthly agreed that the graphics were not up to PlayStation standards, but maintained it to be the best basketball game then on the market. They gave it scores of 9.0 and 8.5 out of 10.[14] A reviewer for Next Generation also felt it was better than NBA ShootOut, praising its vast array of options, features, and plays, though he criticized the unrealistic physics. He gave it four out of five stars, concluding, "Even EA admits that as far as technically innovative basketball games go, it's way behind Sony Interactive, Konami, even Crystal Dynamics. But when it comes to gameplay, NBA Live '96 is the most consuming basketball game on the market."[15]


  1. ^ NBA Live '96 (MS-DOS) at
  2. ^ NBA Live '96 (PSX) at
  3. ^ NBA Live '96 (SNES) at
  4. ^ NBA Live '96 (Genesis) at
  5. ^ NBA Live '96 (Game Boy) at
  6. ^ "Buyers Beware". GamePro. No. 95. IDG. August 1996. p. 14.
  7. ^ Rybicki, Joe (December 1996). "The Making of NBA Live 97". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 89. Ziff Davis. p. 301.
  8. ^ "Swish". Next Generation. No. 12. Imagine Media. December 1995. p. 198.
  9. ^ "NBA Live '96". Next Generation. No. 14. Imagine Media. February 1996. p. 176.
  10. ^ "Top 100 Games of All Time". Next Generation. No. 21. Imagine Media. September 1996. p. 44.
  11. ^ "NBA Live '96 Is Fantastic!". GamePro. No. 86. IDG. November 1995. p. 110.
  12. ^ "NBA Live '96 Maintains Hangtime". GamePro. No. 87. IDG. December 1995. p. 120.
  13. ^ "NBA Live's Dominance: A Thing of the Past". GamePro. No. 93. IDG. June 1996. p. 73.
  14. ^ "MBA Live '96". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 83. Ziff Davis. June 1996. p. 120.
  15. ^ "NBA Live '96". Next Generation. No. 19. Imagine Media. July 1996. pp. 74–75.