NHL Open Ice

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(Redirected from 2 on 2 Open Ice Challenge)
NHL Open Ice
Windows cover art
Developer(s)Midway Games
Avalanche Software (PS)
Publisher(s)Midway Home Entertainment
GT Interactive
Platform(s)Arcade, PlayStation, Microsoft Windows
  • NA: November 1, 1995
  • NA: December 13, 1996
  • EU: 1996
  • NA: August 31, 1997
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer
Arcade systemMidway Wolf Unit hardware

NHL Open Ice: 2 on 2 Challenge, or just NHL Open Ice, is an ice hockey arcade game released by Midway Games in 1995.[1] It features comically exaggerated hockey play, causing it to often be described as an ice hockey equivalent to Midway's NBA Jam.[2][3] It was ported to the PlayStation in 1996. The is near identical to its arcade counterpart with exception to the fact that the Winnipeg Jets moved to Phoenix after the conclusion of the 1995–96 season, thus the Phoenix Coyotes replaced the Jets in the PlayStation port.

NHL Open Ice was released on PC (Windows) in 1996-1997 featuring the same roster and teams as the PlayStation version. The game is an official licensed product of the NHLPA (National Hockey League Players Association).


Jack Haeger was lead game designer and an avid hockey player. The lead programmer was Mark Penacho, assisted by Bill Dabelstein. Sound design and music by Jon Hey. The skating sounds were recorded by Jon Hey at the Chicago Park District's only indoor ice rink, McFetridge Sports Center, which is just a block North of what was once Midway's Chicago studios. The announcer in the game is the famous voice of the Chicago Blackhawks Pat Foley. If a team achieves "On-Fire" status (made famous initially by Midway's NBA Jam), Pat Foley's voice will occasionally announce: "Toasty", a reference to Mortal Kombat. A version of NHL Open Ice for Panasonic M2 was in development and slated to be one of the launch titles but it never occurred due to the system's cancellation.[4]


Reviewing the arcade version, Next Generation called the game "NBA Jam on ice", and said it would be particularly appreciated since arcade hockey games were almost unheard of at the time. They applauded the game's full NHL licensing and player rosters, flaming pucks, two-on-two mode, commentary, and overall depth and playability of its hockey action, and concluded that "Williams rarely makes a bad move, and Open Ice is testament to its conservative but consistent quality games."[15] Bruised Lee of GamePro similarly said the game "proves that Midway will continue to dominate the arcade sports market long after the success of NBA Jam." He praised the numerous Easter eggs, sharp graphics, fluid animation, and variety of moves.[18][b] Brad Cook of AllGame called the same game "a must play for any hockey fan."[5]

In 1996 the arcade version was placed on display in the Hockey Hall of Fame.[19]

The PlayStation and PC versions divided reviewers. Jeff Kitts of GameSpot, The Rookie of GamePro, and Dean Hager of Electronic Gaming Monthly all agreed that it offered fun and fast NBA Jam-style hockey and was a faithful translation of the arcade version.[10][20][14] Kitts acknowledged problems with the animations but praised the inclusion of novelty power-up codes, and judged the game an overall refreshing break from realistic hockey sims.[14] The Rookie went so far as to say that it "shoots and scores at every level."[20][c] In contrast, Hager's co-reviewer Kraig Kujawa said it "doesn't seem to capture the magic that made [NBA Jam] so popular", and that it compares poorly to its similar contemporary, Wayne Gretzky's 3D Hockey for the Nintendo 64.[10] Next Generation agreed that it simply lacked the spark of NBA Jam, and also "fails to capture the coin-op's flashy essence", citing smaller characters, missing frames of animation, a weaker color palette, and missing audio effects compared to the arcade version.[16] Official UK PlayStation Magazine said that players should "avoid the game at all costs."[17]

Stephen Poole of GameSpot said of the PC version, "NHL Open Ice isn't the kind of game you'll play for hours on end, but it is the kind that you can fire up just about any time for 20 or 30 minutes of fun, or leave running at your next party for your guests to enjoy. Except for the graphics in the full-screen mode, they'll think they're at the arcade - and with a game like this, you can't ask any more than that."[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ In GameFan's viewpoint of the PlayStation version, one critic gave it 73, and the other 85.
  2. ^ GamePro gave the arcade version two 4.5/5 scores for graphics and control, 4/5 for sound, and 5/5 for fun factor.
  3. ^ GamePro gave the PlayStation version 4/5 for graphics, two 4.5/5 scores for sound and fun factor, and 5/5 for control.


  1. ^ "2 On 2 Open Ice Challenge". Killer List of Videogames.
  2. ^ EGM staff (January 1997). "Open Ice [sic]: Williams Puts their Arcade Action on Ice". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 90. Ziff Davis. p. 218.
  3. ^ "Sports Insider Previews: NHL Open Ice". GamePro. No. 99. IDG. December 1996. p. 196. Retrieved December 28, 2020.
  4. ^ "News - E3 '96: 3DO? - M2 Dream List". 3DO Magazine. No. 12. Paragon Publishing. July 1996. p. 4.
  5. ^ a b Cook, Brad. "Open Ice (Arcade) - Review". AllGame. All Media Network. Archived from the original on November 16, 2014. Retrieved December 28, 2020.
  6. ^ Whittleton, Kasey. "NHL Open Ice (PC) - Review". AllGame. All Media Network. Archived from the original on November 16, 2014. Retrieved December 28, 2020.
  7. ^ Marriott, Scott Alan. "NHL Open Ice (PS) - Review". AllGame. All Media Network. Archived from the original on November 15, 2014. Retrieved December 28, 2020.
  8. ^ Lackey, Jeff (1997). "NHL Open Ice [2 on 2 Challenge]". Computer Games Strategy Plus. Strategy Plus, Inc. Archived from the original on May 23, 2003. Retrieved December 28, 2020.
  9. ^ Goble, Gordon (February 1998). "Hockey Faceoff '98 (NHL Open Ice)" (PDF). Computer Gaming World. No. 163. Ziff Davis. p. 187. Retrieved December 28, 2020.
  10. ^ a b c Kujawa, Kraig; Hager, Dean (February 1997). "NHL Open Ice [2 on 2 Challenge] (PS)". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 91. Ziff Davis. p. 151.
  11. ^ "[NHL] Open Ice: 2 on 2 Challenge - PlayStation". Game Informer. No. 46. FuncoLand. February 1997. Archived from the original on October 21, 1997. Retrieved December 28, 2020.
  12. ^ Jacques Strap; Joe Kidd (February 1997). "[NHL] Open Ice (PS)". GameFan. Vol. 5, no. 2. Metropolis Media. p. 92. Retrieved December 28, 2020.
  13. ^ a b Poole, Stephen (September 17, 1997). "NHL Open Ice 2 on 2 Challenge Review (PC) [date mislabeled as "May 2, 2000"]". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Retrieved December 28, 2020.
  14. ^ a b c Kitts, Jeff (January 3, 1997). "NHL Open Ice Review (PS)". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Retrieved February 9, 2018.
  15. ^ a b "NHL Open Ice Hockey [sic] (Arcade)". Next Generation. No. 12. Imagine Media. December 1995. p. 206. Retrieved December 28, 2020.
  16. ^ a b "Open Ice Challenge [sic] (PS)". Next Generation. No. 28. Imagine Media. April 1997. p. 120. Retrieved December 28, 2020.
  17. ^ a b OPMUK staff (January 1997). "NHL Open Ice". Official UK PlayStation Magazine. No. 29. Future Publishing. p. 116. Retrieved December 28, 2020.
  18. ^ Bruised Lee (February 1996). "Hot at the Arcades: 2 on 2 Open Ice Challenge". GamePro. No. 89. IDG. p. 46. Retrieved December 28, 2020.
  19. ^ EGM staff (February 1997). "Tidbits". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 91. Ziff Davis. p. 26.
  20. ^ a b The Rookie (March 1997). "NHL Open Ice (PS)". GamePro. No. 102. IDG. p. 91. Retrieved December 28, 2020.

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