Sega Mega Drive/Genesis cover art
|Developer(s)||EA Canada and High Score Productions (SCD, SNES, GEN)
Park Place Productions (DOS)
Electronic Arts Victor (Japan)
|Platform(s)||Genesis, Super Nintendo, Sega CD, DOS|
|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 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 National Hockey League had EA Sports remove fighting from the game.
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).
NHL '94 introduced the "one timer", an authentic hockey move where a player shoots the puck directly off of a pass. It also added the ability to save records, and has four modes - Regular Season, 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" (NHLプロホッケー'94 NHL Purohokkē' 94), 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 first and only title in the EA NHL series to have a Japanese release.
On July 11, 2013, it was announced that NHL 14 would include a NHL '94 Mode, celebrating the 20th anniversary of NHL '94. It changes NHL 14 audiovisually and control-wise to resemble NHL '94. It also changes other gameplay elements like including faster game speed and having relaxed game rules.
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 grown a cult following among sports fans. Critically, the game has come to be known as one of greatest sports games of all time, with some referring to it as the finest game ever made within the sports genre. The title is included as #47 on IGN's Top 100 Games of All-Time and 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."
The National Hockey League itself has acknowledged the critical, commercial and fan success of the title. Former NHL player Jeremy Roenick credits his fame to the exposure he received from NHL '94, as he was listed as one of the best players in the game.
The Genesis version in particular is perhaps the most well known. In 2012, GamesRadar ranked it as the 25th best Sega Genesis game due in part to its realism. In 2014, GamesRadar updated the list and NHL '94 was ranked 15th.
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- "NHL '94: CD Perfection!". GamePro (58). IDG. May 1994. p. 109.
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- Sarkar, Samit (11 July 2013). "NHL 14 lets you relive your childhood in NHL '94 Anniversary Mode". Polygon. Vox Media. Retrieved 23 August 2015.
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- "Announcing The New Premier Awards". Computer Gaming World. June 1994. pp. 51–58.
- Staff (August 1994). "PC Gamer Top 40: The Best Games of All Time". PC Gamer US (3): 32–42.
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- "IGN's Top 100 Games of All Time"
- "All Time Greatest Sports Video Game - Boston.com"
- Robinson, Jon. "ESPN's Sports Video Game Rankings". ESPN. Retrieved 5 May 2014.
- Urtz Jr, Tom. "The 15 Greatest NHL Video Games Ever Made". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 7 January 2017.
- Pinchevsky, Tal. "EA's NHL '94 remains landmark game after 20 years". National Hockey League. Retrieved 7 January 2017.
- "Best Sega Genesis games of all time". GamesRadar. 2012-04-17. Archived from the original on 2012-08-27. Retrieved 2013-12-05.
- "Best Sega Genesis/Mega Drive games of all time". GamesRadar. 2014-08-14. Archived from the original on 2014-08-15. Retrieved 2015-08-15.