Top notch hockey thrills
This is one of the earlier incarnations of EA's long running ice hockey sims and despite its relative simplicity, it remains a slick and enjoyable interpretation of the sport. It's pretty straightforward stuff, pitting one or two players against each other in a series of high speed matches where the simple objective is to score more points than the other guy. Of course, this being ice hockey there are a fair few punch-ups along the way to add to the fun and which turn the game into a sort of basic beat 'em up for a few brief, but immensely satisfying, seconds. There's a decent amount of options of display here, with full season mode and single matches, but when it all comes down to it, the bottom line is that this simply plays a great game of ice hockey. The pace is fast and furious, bringing home the real nature of the sport and while the visuals are fairly simplistic, they do a great job of bringing a strong atmosphere to proceedings, with animation that is also highly fluid. Sound effects are unspectacular but also contribute much to the overall feel. The real kicker for any such sports game is the control method and fortunately the game scores highly in this respect too. It's easy to pick up but extremely responsive and allows for a wide range of passes and shots to be executed with relative ease, so you'll be sliding around like a pro the ice in no time at all. If there is a fault to be found with the game, it's that the opposing teams don't put up a great fight and are fairly easily beaten thanks to the low AI level, but if you can get past this, there's a great time to be had here.
26 teams fighting for the hockey crown!
NHL '94 is a very capable top down hockey title, arcade enough, with simulation elements to offer you a very satisfying experience. Along with a large number of teams, 26 in total, you also get different players, and different tactics that can be changed mid game, with significant changes on the play style. Also, a great advantage of NHL '94 is that it plays relatively fast, and the animations are very fluid, very satisfying. The graphics, while 2D, seen from above have a 16bit feel to it that is definitely ahead of its time for 93, so that in the end NHL '94 is a very satisfying, great looking, always sweet game. Also, what you may want to look into is the fact that the game allows you to customize controls, even if the base controls, the ones that are included in the game from the beginning are pretty well mapped. All in all, NHL '94 is one of the better games of the early 90s in terms of hockey arcade and simulation combined, and it features a lot of customization options, making it truly stand out. Similarly, download NHL 95, almost as good as this one.
Ported from the SNES, way better than I expected!
With NHL Hockey I expected some watered down hockey, maybe with better than the average 8bit lot out there, but I sure wasn't ready to lose hours upon hours playing it! But I did! Because it really is a well made game. The controls, the behavior of the puck, the adverse AI and the coordination of your own players is really conducive to being in the zone! Yeah, this game, for lack of a better term is mesmerizing! It plays pretty fast, the controls are easy to learn and pose no hidden issues, require no trickery. Graphically, it also is pretty well done, with very detailed sprites and with a top down perspective moving smoothly and as clean as possible, so you never get to lose sight of the puck. It's also a pretty meaty game, with lots of content and teams, and for a game its age it also packs a lot of actual differences in the way the teams play. So, for a true blood 16 bit era Hockey game, this one can be a top list proposition! Or, alternatively, see how you like NHL 95 which takes the graphics a step further while polishing the same 2D perspective even more.