Wayne Gretzky's 3D Hockey
|Wayne Gretzky's 3D Hockey|
North American Nintendo 64 cover art
|Publisher(s)||Atari Games, Midway Games|
|Platform(s)||Arcade, Nintendo 64|
|Mode(s)||Single player, multiplayer|
Wayne Gretzky's 3D Hockey is a video game developed by Williams Entertainment, published by Atari Games for the arcade in 1996. A port for the Nintendo 64 console was released almost simultaneously with the arcade version, on November 11, 1996, making it the first-ever 4-player game for the Nintendo 64. The game was subsequently re-released as Wayne Gretzky's 3D Hockey '98 (also ported to the PlayStation) and later in an Olympic version.
As opposed to the more realistic ice hockey gameplay seen in Electronic Arts' NHL series, Wayne Gretzky's 3D Hockey features arcade-style gameplay, with moves such as "power saves", which cause the goaltender to briefly transform into a brick wall, "power shots", which set the net on fire or knock the goalie into the net, and "power checks", which send an ambulance across the top of the screen. It features high-scoring games and over-the-top fights. There is also a simulation mode for those looking for more realistic gameplay. The game allowed the creation of profiles and would keep track of important individual and team stats, including goals, assists, and wins, among others.
Wayne Gretzky's 3D Hockey was the second game to result from a three-year deal for a line of signature video games featuring hockey star Wayne Gretzky, the first being Wayne Gretzky and the NHLPA All-Stars.
The skating animations were created by videotaping Gretzky skating from different angles and building a 3D model to imitate his movements. The arcade hardware was built around the Voodoo Graphics chip.
The game came in two models of cabinet, an upright and a JAMMA-compatible model.
Next Generation hailed Wayne Gretzky's 3D Hockey as "an arcade hockey game against which to measure others." Though the reviewer suspected that the Nintendo 64 version's being released less than a month after the arcade version would prevent the game from achieving success in the arcades, he lauded the realistic physics, multiple play modes, comprehensive licensing, statistics tracking, and selection of moves. He also noted that the "Burst" button prevents situations where the puck gets out of reach for extended periods of time, ensuring continuous action.
Most reviews for the Nintendo 64 version were mixed, generally praising the polygonal graphics and overall accurate recreation of the arcade version, but remarking that while the game is great fun with four players, the mediocre A.I. makes it impossible to enjoy in single-player mode. Most critics noted that while there is a simulation mode, it does not effectively translate the game into a realistic hockey sim, making it a disappointment to the hardcore hockey fan base. For some critics this was the game's key problem; Air Hendrix of GamePro, for example, concluded, "If fast, simple hockey appeals to you and your buds, Gretzky's there with all the right bells and whistles. Just don't expect the depth and staying power of EA's NHL series or Sony's Faceoff '97." A critic for Next Generation similarly said, "Fanatical hockey fans will be disappointed, as more realistic and finer-tuned hockey games on other systems easily outdo this one ... but more action-hungry players will find Gretzky worth the money, if only because its multiplayer capabilities are a blast, the arcade mode is fast, and the fights, well, they just come with the territory." However, GameSpot's Tom Ham did not consider the lack of a true simulation option to be a problem at all, and concluded, "No more slower frame rates, small players, and limited perspectives: 64-bit action is here and boy what fun it is."
Both Tom Ham and Air Hendrix criticized the audio commentary as being too repetitive, while Joe Rybicki of Electronic Gaming Monthly found it impressive for a cartridge-based game to have an announcer at all.
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- "NG Alphas: Wayne Gretzky's 3D Hockey". Next Generation. No. 24. Imagine Media. December 1996. pp. 223–4.
- "Williams Prepares for a New Era!". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 85. Ziff Davis. August 1996. pp. 52–55.
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- "Wayne Gretzky's 3D Hockey". The Arcade Flyer Archive. Retrieved 20 June 2017.
- "Team EGM Box Scores: Gretzky Hockey". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 89. Ziff Davis. December 1996. p. 327.
- Ham, Tom (December 4, 1996). "Wayne Gretzky's 3D Hockey Review". GameSpot. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
- "Ice Cool". Next Generation. No. 27. Imagine Media. March 1997. p. 102.
- "Wayne Gretzky's 3D Hockey". Next Generation. No. 29. Imagine Media. May 1997. p. 144.
- "The Great One Scores a Decent N64 Debut". GamePro. No. 100. IDG. January 1997. p. 128.