NHL 94

Playing on a vertical patch of ice is hard

NHL ’94 is one of the few SNES games I’ve reviewed that I owned as a kid. Well, that’s not entirely true—my brother owned it. He liked hockey, and I liked elves. Fifteen years later, not much has changed: he still likes hockey, and I still like elves. And yet, for some reason, there’s no elven hockey league like we all thought there would be by now. You lied to us, Shadowrun. You lied to children. Oh wait, it’s not 2011 yet, so you still have a few years to make my dreams come true; I’m willing to genetically experiment on as many people as it takes, since I doubt “magic” will do anything any time soon.

Back in the day, NHL ’94 was THE HOCKEY GAME. It was the be-all and end-all of digitized dudes swingin’ sticks (save for that German TRON porn I found in the forest). As such, I actually spent some time playing it—enough to realize that I could never, ever beat my brother at this game since he apparently played it while sleeping, awake, sleepwalking, awake-walking, and at school. I’m pretty sure he could play without even holding the controller! He would play as the Habs, and I would play as the losing team. Something tells me that if I turned this game on in front of him today, he would still pick the Habs, and I would still lose miserably. I should play as Toronto*!

This game is pretty good. It’s not my thing, but I can objectively say that this is a well-made hockey game. The control is intuitive and tight, and the easiest way to score is to swing in from behind the net and take a shot—I used to beat the computer doing this, and can only assume it still works since it would totally make no sense whatsoever if it didn’t. Graphics-wise, all your favourite colours are here: red, blue, green, yellow, orange…yup. The hockey teams wear jerseys with these colours, and so they appear on your screen! Accuracy! Simulation! EA SPORTS!

I can only imagine the adrenaline-rush of pure nostalgia that would grip many of you if you played this game; for me, it’s a reminder of being beaten at something by my younger brother, which as we all know is the greatest defeat of them all. I think he’s taller than me now, too. Well played, Ross. Well played.

* This is the one hockey “joke” I can make. Toronto is bad and everyone keeps telling me this. I don’t care, but apparently you guys really, really do. Boo Leafs, I suppose.