NBA Live 97

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
NBA Live 97
NBA Live 97 Cover.jpg
Developer(s)MS-DOS: EA Sports
PlayStation: EA Canada
Super NES/Genesis: NuFX/Hitmen Productions
Sega Saturn: Realtime Associates
Publisher(s)Electronic Arts, THQ
Composer(s)Brian L. Schmidt
SeriesNBA Live
Platform(s)MS-DOS, PlayStation, Sega Saturn, Super NES, Genesis
  • NA: December 31, 1996
  • NA: October 31, 1996
  • EU: December 1996
  • JP: February 28, 1997
[3]Sega Saturn
[4]Super NES
  • NA: December, 1996
  • EU: 1996
Genre(s)Sports (Basketball)
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer (head to head or cooperative)

NBA Live 97 is the third installment of the NBA Live video games series. The cover features Mitch Richmond of the Sacramento Kings. The game was developed by EA Sports and released on November 1, 1996. The MS-DOS, Sega Saturn and PlayStation versions featured polygonal models for the on-court players, thus marking it as the first 3D EA Sports Basketball sequel for the series. It was also the first NBA Live released for the Sega Saturn.[6] NBA Live 97 is followed by NBA Live 98.


  • Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley appear as "Roster Players" as they could not be included due to licensing issues.
  • Kobe Bryant makes his video game debut in this game as a part of the Los Angeles Lakers.[citation needed]
  • Live 97 was the first game to feature a 15 player roster.[citation needed] The PC version also features 100 Create-a-Player slots.
  • Expanding upon the trivia included in Live 96, Live 97 featured audio "Cool Facts" for prominent NBA players.


The player animations were all created using motion capture.[6] Mitch Richmond and Tyus Edney were among the motion capture actors.[7] Audio commentary was provided by Al Murdoch and Ernie Johnson Jr.[6]

Producer Tarrnie Williams Jr. (son of Tarrnie Williams Sr.) explained the decision to have the series switch from using sprites to polygonal models for the players:

With sprites, you're limited to prerendered animations, right? You're limited to the number of directions you choose, the number of frames you have for each animation, and, of course, because you're limited to the amount of RAM you have on the system, you're not really able to do all the things you want. Now, when you move on to the rendered-on-the-fly guys, once you put the models in, you then have to apply the motion data to them. Now, again, you're limited to the set of motion data you can have; but, first of all, they run at 30 frames per second. Second, you're not limited to eight directions. You have infinite directions; they can point in any direction. Plus, it's enabled us to make our cameras freer. We've got an overhead camera for some of our replay stuff that looks straight down. With sprites, if you look straight down at them, it's like looking straight down at a piece of paper.[8]


Review scores
EGM8.75/10 (PS1)[9]
4.5/10 (SAT)[10]
GameSpot8.2/10 (PS1)[11]
Next Generation2/5 stars (PS1)[12]
Saturn Power60/100 (SAT)[13]
Sega Saturn Magazine67% (SAT)[14]

Most reviews for the original release on PlayStation were highly positive. Critics praised the dramatic improvement in graphics and animation over the previous installment,[9][11][12][15] the large number of options,[11][12][15] the exhaustive playbook,[11][12][15] and the custom jerseys created through the create-a-player feature.[11][15] A reviewer for Next Generation mentioned most of these merits but was a dissenting voice against the game, commenting that "The super-slow gameplay just accentuates the basic flaws in a dying engine that desperately needs to be revamped. ... If you can get past the poor control and slow play, NBA Live '97 is extremely deep and beautiful to watch. Unfortunately, it's just not fun like it used to be."[12] On the other side, Joe Rybicki of Electronic Gaming Monthly called it "a great game that will excite NBA Live fans",[9] Tom Ham of GameSpot said "Boasting lightning-fast gameplay, tons of moves, great artificial intelligence, textured polygon players, and motion capture animation, NBA Live 97 may very well be the best Playstation-based basketball game to date",[11] and Johnny Ballgame of GamePro gave it a perfect 5 out of 5 in all four categories (graphics, sound, control, and funfactor), concluding that "you won't find a more complete, dynamic, and in-your-face basketball game on the 32-bit market than Live '97."[15]

Johnny Ballgame gave similar praises to the Genesis version, calling it "the quintessential basketball title on the Genesis."[16] Dr. Zombie reviewed the Super NES version in the same issue. While he gave it slightly lower scores than the Genesis version in sound, control, and funfactor, his review was relentlessly positive and similarly called it "the best SNES b-ball action ever."[17]

NBA Live 97 was a finalist for the Computer Game Developers Conference's 1996 "Best Sports Game" Spotlight Award,[18] but lost the prize to NHL 97.[19] It was also nominated as Computer Games Strategy Plus's 1996 sports game of the year, although it lost to Links LS.[20]

The later Saturn version was much less well-received. Critics still praised the wide range of options and features,[10][13][14][21] but reported the graphics and frame rate are greatly inferior to the PlayStation version's, to the point where it is sometimes difficult to follow the action.[10][13][14][21] GamePro's The Rookie maintained that "the addictive gameplay makes up for any lack of detail in Live '97's overall look."[21] While acknowledging that the core gameplay is good, Rich Leadbetter of Sega Saturn Magazine felt that the issues with the animation, and additionally the speed decrease resulting from poor PAL conversion and the load times when accessing and closing menus, cut into the enjoyment too much.[14] Dean Mortlock devoted most of his review in Saturn Power to arguing that it is ludicrous to release a basketball video game in the United Kingdom, since the sport has very little following in that country.[13]


  1. ^ NBA Live '97 (PC) at
  2. ^ NBA Live '97 (PSX) at
  3. ^ NBA Live '97 (Sega Saturn) at
  4. ^ NBA Live '97 (SNES) at
  5. ^ NBA Live '97 (Genesis) at
  6. ^ a b c "NG Alphas: NBA Live '97". Next Generation. No. 23. Imagine Media. November 1996. p. 178.
  7. ^ "Talkin' B-Ball". GamePro. No. 97. IDG. October 1996. p. 104.
  8. ^ Rybicki, Joe (December 1996). "The Making of NBA Live 97". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 89. Ziff Davis. p. 301.
  9. ^ a b c "Team EGM Box Scores: NBA Live 97". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 89. Ziff Davis. December 1996. p. 328.
  10. ^ a b c "Team EGM Sports: NBA Live 97". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 95. Ziff Davis. June 1997. p. 101.
  11. ^ a b c d e f Ham, Tom (December 1, 1996). "NBA Live 97 Review". GameSpot. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  12. ^ a b c d e "NBA Live '97". Next Generation. No. 25. Imagine Media. January 1997. p. 172.
  13. ^ a b c d Mortlock, Dean (June 1997). "Review: NBA Live '97". Saturn Power. No. 1. Future plc. p. 74.
  14. ^ a b c d Leadbetter, Rich (May 1997). "Review: NBA Live '97". Sega Saturn Magazine. No. 19. Emap International Limited. pp. 58–59.
  15. ^ a b c d e "Live '97 Sits Alone Atop the Basketball World". GamePro. No. 99. IDG. December 1996. p. 178.
  16. ^ "NBA Live Continues to Bury the Competition". GamePro. No. 99. IDG. December 1996. p. 180.
  17. ^ "NBA Live '97". GamePro. No. 99. IDG. December 1996. p. 188.
  18. ^ Staff (April 15, 1997). "And the Nominees Are..." Next Generation. Archived from the original on June 5, 1997.
  19. ^ "Spotlight Awards Winners Announced for Best Computer Games of 1996" (Press release). Santa Clara, California: Game Developers Conference. April 28, 1997. Archived from the original on July 3, 2011.
  20. ^ Staff (March 25, 1997). "Computer Games Strategy Plus announces 1996 Awards". Computer Games Strategy Plus. Archived from the original on June 14, 1997. Retrieved November 2, 2010.
  21. ^ a b c "Live '97 Knocks Down a Buzzer-Beater on the Saturn". GamePro. No. 104. IDG. May 1997. p. 101.