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 of the "NHL Hockey" series for PC/DOS, simply titled "NHL Hockey", without the "94" in the title. The game is officially licensed from the National Hockey League and NHL Players Association. Being the third game in the NHL Hockey series franchise, it was released on March 15, 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 and various gaming forums.
NHL Hockey has NHL and NHLPA licences, so player names and team logos are in use. (Photo: DOS version)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 had the luxury of simply tweaking the basic aspects of the game. The result was 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
That's not to say no 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. 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, breaking the glass, a kid sitting in the stands who gets up and bangs on the glass behind the net, 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", "When the Saints Go Marching In" for the St. Louis Blues, and the Chicago Blackhawks theme song "Here Come the Hawks".
- Exhibition Game
- Stanley Cup Playoffs: Single Game Series
- Stanley Cup Playoffs: Best of Seven Series
- Shootout Mini-Game
Fighting was removed from the game.
The game was included in the PlayStation 2 version of NHL '06. The port included was based on the Sega Genesis version, but lacked the official NHL rosters from the original title.
A version titled NHL Pro Hockey '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 letters of the Roman alphabet and numbers exclusively.