During the late 80s and early 90s, there was no bigger story in basketball than the LA Lakers and the Boston Celtics, and this title from Electronic Arts bought it home like never before. More so than that, the game forever changed the way developers approached video game hoops. Lakers vs Celtics is perhaps one of the most significant sports games ever released. Playing off the successful and hugely popular rivalry, Lakers vs Celtics features the two titular teams along with six other teams that made it to the NBA playoffs during the 1988 – 89 season (Dos) or the 1989-1990 season (Genesis).

What made this game so special was that it was basically the first to introduce several features that we take for granted in basketball video games. It was the first ‘team’ basketball game which was endorsed by the NBA, granting the game use of actual NBA teams and players without having to go through the NBA players association. Players could hit the court as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (goggles and all) Scottie Pippen, Larry Bird, and the legendary Michael Jordan. The game also featured their signature dunks, such as Jordan’s “Air Reverse Layup” and Charles Barkley’s “Gorilla Dunk”. It was also the first b-ball game to feature a TV-style starting lineup, a halftime show, and announcers. The game itself wasn’t bad either. The controls were solid, and the graphics were high quality for an early 16-bit game.

Lakers vs Celtics’s success paved the way for other basketball video games, most notable NBA 2k and EA’s own NBA Live/Elite series. It was followed up by a few sequels, each excellent in their own right. It goes without saying that this has no chance of a Virtual Console re-release (at least without heavy roster changes), so if you find a cart, pop it in and experience the glory days of 16 bit sports.