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When the hokey players fight each other!
By 97 there had been quite a few hockey games out there, some that focused on esentialized and highly symbolic versions of the game, rather games that felt like hockey on the PC rather than actually being hockey (the early 80s titles for instance). Later on in the beginning of the 90s, the games gradually began to be able to pack more variety in the gameplay, to simulate the game better while sporting graphics that, while 2D, made a lot more justice to the players of the seasons the games digitized and so on. Thus, by 97, all the other titles kind of tried it all, and thus, in order to still be relevant, without doing the jump into 3D, titles had to come up with something novel, some gimmick to attract attention! Well, NHLs 97 thing was the simulation of player fights! Yap, you've heard me, your players would randomly get into fights, and this could actually influence the outcome of a game, as you could be disqualified! Thus, you kind of played this one expecting that something would happen, some player would snap and manage to change the outcome of the game by the end of it! But, if you weren't that kind of player, you could still experience NHL 97 the good old fashioned way, as it was a pretty solid 2D action hockey game. As an alternative, if you want an even more graphically nice 2D hockey game, see the next year's version, NHL 98, which really managed to put a lot forward in terms of graphics, in a fairly limited amount of time.
Hockey managment and action
NHL 97 is a great hockey simulation game and looks like an improved version over previous one. First of all, the gameplay is much better. The game is all arcade style, more than simulation, but it's something most people will love since it make the gameplay simple and enjoyable. Other innovations I have found in the gameplay is that players can be injured, which wasn't implemented in the previous one and fighting on the ring, which I personally enjoy doing every now and then. The graphics could have been better, but it gives a nice late '90s feel to it. The sounds are good, but sometimes it can get annoying.