You may think that a game from 28 years ago would not be relevant in 2021. Well, that is not the case for one EA Sports game — the NHL 94 community is alive and thriving.
Gaming has a rich history that spans multiple decades. To this end, The Last Word on Gaming Backlog is a series that looks back on titles across all generations. From the golden 8-bit era to the landscape-changing 64-bit scene and beyond, The LWOG Backlog’s aim is history. It’s time to revisit the sequel to one of the most important games of the 16-bit era – NHL 94 for Sega Genesis.
A community like no other – NHL 94
NHL 94 put the hockey gaming world on the map. No, it wasn’t the first hockey video game, but it turned a generation on its head. The EA Sports hockey game was the first to feature player names, logos on the ice, and every NHL team. The game was released on the Genesis, Super Nintendo and Sega CD, however, my go-to machine to play my friends was the 8-bit Genesis.
16-bit gameplay can be rudimentary, to say the least. However, with NHL 94, they added some new features that would up the ante for gamers. The addition of the one-timer was a thing of beauty. An almost guaranteed goal, unless you played with the manual goalie. Other less successful scoring moves included “the duper” and well named “the move.”
Presentation (Graphics and Sound)
The graphics were like any other EA Sports NHL game. A vertical playing style, with slick skating abilities, made this a game that I played day in and day out as a child. Obviously, the graphics were nothing to write home about, but the sound on the other handset the game apart from its predecessors. There were goal horns and sounds for each team, including the Brass Bonanza of the Hartford Whalers and the Sabre Dance of the Buffalo Sabres. These little details, made you feel like you were not just playing the game, but in the game.
The NHL 94 argument
If you have ever played the game with a buddy, side by side in your living room or bedroom, there was guaranteed to be an argument. Not about who was winning, or who was scoring, but instead, about who got to play as the Chicago Blackhawks.
The best choice in this was to not use the Blackhawks at all.
In NHL 94, Chicago had the absolute cheat code of a scorer in Jeremy Roenick and if you kept goalies at auto, then Ed Belfour in net was lights out. The funny thing is, Roenick was not the highest-rated player in the game, but his slap shot was something that made your jaw drop.
To this day the game is being played by fans around the world. There is even a site that creates downloadable ROMs with updated rosters each NHL season. In 2015 there was a tournament called King of 94 that took place in Toronto, Canada. There are winners crowned on both the Genesis and SNES each year since. If you head over to Twitch and search ‘NHL 94’ there are still gamers out there that stream the game. So despite being released in 1993, this game still holds up and people are still looking to play.