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|Genre(s)||Sports (ice hockey)|
|Developer(s)||Black Box Games |
Next Level Games
|First release||NHL Hitz 20-02|
|Latest release||NHL Hitz Pro|
NHL Hitz was a series of ice hockey video games published by Midway Games, for the PlayStation 2 (PS2), Xbox, and Nintendo GameCube. The series is known and popular for its unique gameplay style: it focuses on fast-paced hockey with an arcade feeling to deliver entertaining hockey to gamers, but features neither injuries nor penalty shots. As the name suggests, the series has a lot of hard hitting which is more often appealing to casual hockey fans than hardcore ones. The first two games, NHL Hitz 20-02 and NHL Hitz 20-03, feature 3-on-3 (3 skaters, 1 goaltender) hockey. NHL Hitz Pro, however, goes a step further, featuring 5-on-5 hockey. The NHL Hitz series has, apart from the National Hockey League (NHL) license, also the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) license, allowing the series to use the national teams' official jerseys.
NHL Hitz 2002
NHL Hitz 2002 is the first game of the series, developed by Black Box Games. It was released in September/November 2001 in North America, and in March/May 2002 in the PAL regions, except for the PS2 version which was released for PAL already in November 2001. During gameplay, three skaters and one goaltender in each team are on the ice, and three skaters in each team are on the bench. Because of this, only three fights may occur in each game; any player that loses a fight is taken out of the game permanently. If a player scores an uninterrupted hat-trick (i.e. three goals in a row), that player becomes "On Fire", meaning that the player can make more powerful shots and is tougher to knock down. "Team Fire", similar to "On Fire", can be achieved if the team scores three uninterrupted one timers in a row.
NHL Hitz 2003
NHL Hitz 2003 is the last game of the series to use 3-on-3 hockey, developed by Black Box Games and Exient Entertainment. It was released between September–November 2002 in both North America and the PAL regions. Exient Entertainment were called up to exclusively make a handheld version of the game for the Game Boy Advance (GBA). The GBA version exclusively can be linked up with four GBA's for four players in a game.
In gameplay, goalies can stick-handle the puck around, and take a shot on the other net to sometimes score. The rosters are shortened to mainly starters and fan favorites (such as Tie Domi and Bob Probert), with far fewer free agents. The game uniquely includes a rule that can be set to win the game for one of the teams whenever that team leads by a certain margin of goals. For example, if the winning goal difference is set to 5, the first team to lead by five goals automatically wins the game. If the winning goal difference is set to 1, the game is practically a sudden death game.
NHL Hitz Pro
NHL Hitz Pro was developed by Next Level Games and released between September–November 2003. It is the only game in the series to include 5-on-5 gameplay. The game has many game modes, one of the most popular being the "Pick-Up Hockey" game mode, where the game would turn into either a roller, street, or pond hockey match-up between two amateur teams. The game further includes an exclusive "Hockey School", where former NHL coach Scotty Bowman and NHL players help out newbies.