About EA NHL '94 for the Sega(March 14, 2006)
Gameplay-wise, EA's NHL 94 for the Sega Genesis is generally considered the best hockey video game to date. In 2005, it was voted the greatest sports video game by readers of the Boston Globe and it stands at #47 on IGN's Top 100 Games of All Time (right after Super Mario World and Battlefield 1942). Yes, people prefer a game made over 15 years ago to the modern million-dollar-budget 3D-motion-capture hockey video games. A game is measured by the fun you have playing it, and no hockey video game is nearly as fun to play as NHL 94 on the Sega. It may not have stellar graphics, but the execution of the game is next to perfect, and the imperfections actually serve to make the game better because they cause funny things to happen.
I could go on for ages about what makes this a great game, but I'll try to sum it up quickly:
- In every hockey game since '94 that I've seen, players can turn on a dime. In '94, players make wide, swooping turns that require you to think ahead about what you're doing. Skating requires skill in '94. Some players are very fast, while others are dead slow, and some players can make tighter turns than other players, so every player on your team has a unique feel to him. In later games, every player feels pretty much like the same zippy guy.
- NHL '94 introduced the one-timer shot: pass the puck to a player, and, before the puck actually gets to him, press the shoot button to have him wind up for a slap shot and shoot the puck as soon as it gets to him. I have NHL '06 on the XBox, and I find that the one-timer doesn't work nearly as seamlessly.
- I haven't played a game since that made bodychecking so much fun. When you hit a guy hard enough to knock him over, he makes an hilarious "BLLOOOAARGH!!" sound that makes you feel very satisfied that you really got him good. Hit him into the boards just right, and he will fly out from the boards and slide half way across the rink. I have seen occasions where a player has actually slid ALL THE WAY to the boards on the other side of the rink before getting up. If you catch a player skating a few feet away from the boards, you can check him and he will fly into the boards hilariously. If you hit a player when he is beside one of the benches, he will fall head-first into the bench. You just have to see the hitting in this game. It's so funny. It never gets old. The one bad thing about being in an online league is that you can't laugh together about all the funny things that happen in this game.
- As I said earlier, skating in NHL '94 takes planning, so a good hit actually requires skill. It's very satisfying to predict exactly what path your opponent will take, then have your player meet him in just the right spot to crush him into the boards. "BLLOOOAARGH!!"
- When you hit a player particularly hard, he can get injured for either the rest of the period or the rest of the game. When you take out your opponent's best player with a well-timed hit, well... that's just too bad, isn't it? :D
The one big complaint people have about this game is that there is no fighting it in, which was an entertaining part of NHL 93 and later games in the series.
The game also doesn't have a Season mode; Season mode was introduced in NHL 95. NHL 94 does, however, have a Playoffs mode.