Sega Mega Drive/Genesis cover art
|Developer(s)||EA Canada and High Score Productions (SCD, SNES/Super Famicom, MD)
Park Place Productions (DOS)
|Release date(s)||Super NES/Super Famicom:|
|Genre(s)||Traditional ice hockey simulation|
NHL '94 is an ice hockey game by EA Sports for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, Super Nintendo 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 licenced 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 is included as #47 on IGN's Top 100 Games of All-Time and is 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.
Just like its predecessors -- NHL Hockey and NHLPA Hockey '93 -- NHL '94 was designed to give gamers the most realistic hockey experience possible. 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). While today such a lack of graphical change from year to year would be criticized by players, the NHLPA '93 framework was regarded as the most groundbreaking hockey engine ever made—meaning that NHL '94 was able to build on the basic aspects of the game, such as the isometric rink view and basic controls. However, NHLPA '93 lacked such features as goalie control, shootouts, penalty shots, bench and board checks, saving player records, flip passes and auto line changes. By programming a substantial number of realistic hockey features, the programmer of NHL'94, Mark Lesser, along with the crew at EA Sports, was able to turn the game into one of the most widely acclaimed sports games ever made, and a game that still has an extensive cult following to this day, such as NHL94.com
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 's one-timer was in fact so devastating that it would become the scoring method of choice for most players. However, other techniques such as "the duper" and "the move" remain quite popular and effective scoring tactics, not to mention the sometimes used b-button shot and the somewhat controversial garbage goal (Rumpke goal) technique. Because of NHL 94 's (mostly) realistic and action-packed gameplay, the game is almost universally considered the best hockey game of its generation, and is frequently mentioned in "all-time top sports game" lists.
Key features in this game are the ability to shoot a one timer, better all-around control of players, being able to save your records, as well as the 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
Fighting was removed from the 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 used 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.
Remaining active NHL players
Only one player from the game remains active in the NHL:
- "Electronic Gaming Monthly - October 1993"
- "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.
- http://www.nhl94.com NHL94.com
- Sarkar, Samit (11 July 2013). "NHL 14 lets you relive your childhood in NHL '94 Anniversary Mode". Polygon. Vox Media. Retrieved 23 August 2015.
- "NHL '94: CD Perfection!". GamePro (58) (IDG). May 1994. p. 109.
- "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.
- NHL '94 at MobyGames
- NHL '94 can be played for free in the browser at the Internet Archive
- Game manual
- NHL '94 (Super NES) at GameFAQs
- NHL '94 (Mega Drive/Genesis) at GameFAQs
- NHL '94 (Sega CD) at GameFAQs