|Developer(s)||EA Canada (SNES) |
High Score Productions (Genesis, Sega CD)
Park Place Productions (MS-DOS)
Empty Clip Studios (Rewind)
|Publisher(s)||EA Sports |
Electronic Arts Victor (Japan)
Genesis, Super NES, Sega CD, DOS
PlayStation 4, Xbox One
|Genre(s)||Traditional ice hockey simulation|
NHL '94 is an ice hockey game by EA Sports for the Genesis, Super NES, and Sega CD, as well as the first release for the PC (DOS), simply titled "NHL Hockey", without the "94" in the title. The game is officially licensed from the National Hockey League and the NHL Players' Association. Being the third game in the NHL series media franchise, it was released in October 1993. NHL '94 launched to critical acclaim, and it has since been referred to as both the greatest sports game of all time as well as one of the best games ever made.
The game maintained the series' signature vertical camera angle, which offered the player distinct gameplay and strategic advantages over contemporary side-view hockey games, and kept the 2D sprite character models of NHLPA '93 (albeit with some new animations).
Many improvements were made to the engine by EA between 1992 and 1993. Notably, NHL '94 introduced the "one timer", an authentic hockey move where a player shoots the puck directly off of a pass. NHL 94 also added the ability to save records, and has four modes: Exhibition Game, Playoffs, Best of Seven Playoffs, and Shootout. There are no international teams, but both all-star teams are present. Also introduced were team-specific organ songs played at the start of periods and after goals—examples included the Hartford Whalers' trademark "Brass Bonanza", "Halte-là! Les Canadiens sont là!" for the Montreal Canadiens, "When the Saints Go Marching In" for the St. Louis Blues, "The Sabre Dance" for the Buffalo Sabres, and the Chicago Blackhawks theme song "Here Come the Hawks". "Birthday" by The Beatles is also featured as an organ song after a goal is scored.
- Exhibition Game
- Stanley Cup Playoffs: Single Game Series
- Stanley Cup Playoffs: Best of Seven Series
- Shootout Mini-Game
A version titled NHL Pro Hockey '94[a] was released in Japan for the Super Famicom which has all the important text in Japanese including the main menu, the actual hockey players, the secondary (end of period and post-game) menus, and the crowd meter. However, the passwords still use ASCII letters and numbers exclusively. It is the only title in the EA NHL series to have a Japanese release.
The National Hockey League had EA Sports remove fighting from the Sega CD version of the game.
The game was included in the PlayStation 2 version of NHL 06. The port included was based on the Sega Genesis version, but lacks the official NHL rosters from the original title. Furthermore, the Hartford Whalers were known as the Hartford Canes in that version, as a nod to the team's current name, the Carolina Hurricanes.
On July 11, 2013, it was announced that NHL 14 would include a NHL '94 Anniversary Mode, celebrating the 20th anniversary of NHL '94. It changes NHL 14 audiovisually and control-wise to resemble NHL '94, using the teams and players from the 2013-2014 NHL season, alongside the music from the Sega Genesis version. It also changes other gameplay elements like including faster game speed and having relaxed game rules. It would later return in the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of NHL 15, using the teams and players from the 2014-15 NHL season, and NHL: Legacy Edition, using the teams and players from the 2015-16 NHL season.
On October 2, 2020, it was announced that a Remake of NHL ‘94 tilted NHL ‘94 Rewind, developed by Empty Clip Studios for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, would be released on October 30 for players who pre-ordered NHL 21. In December 2020, it became available for purchase to anyone who owns NHL 21. This version is based on the Sega Genesis version and features the teams and players from the 2020-21 NHL season.
Computer Gaming World in 1993 stated that NHL Hockey for DOS had "a playing environment that is flush with realism, excitement and credibility". The magazine concluded that "players will lose themselves in the simulation and feel they are in control of a televised NHL broadcast ... an experience well worth the price of admission". In June 1994 it was a finalist for the magazine's Sports Game of the Year award, losing to Front Page Sports Football Pro.
In 1994, PC Gamer US named NHL Hockey the 11th best computer game ever. The editors called it "nearly flawless in its representation of the speed and the strategies of full-tilt, real-time NHL hockey — and besides, it's one of the best PC games available." That same year, PC Gamer UK named it the 41st best computer game of all time, calling it "one of the most enjoyable PC sports sims to date".
In the years following its release, NHL '94 has come to be considered one of greatest sports games of all time. The Genesis version was included as #61 on Electronic Gaming Monthly's "100 Best Games of All Time" in 1997 and as #47 on IGN's Top 100 Games of All-Time in 2005. It was named All-Time Greatest Sports Video Game by Boston.com. It was also ranked second by ESPN on its all-time sports video games rankings. Bleacher Report listed it as the second best hockey video game ever made (behind NHL 10 but also cited it as "one of the best video games ever made.")
Retro Sanctuary rated the game 83rd on their "Top 100 Best SNES Games". They praised the game saying it’s more balanced than its predecessors.
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