Takes and trash talk from both ALL sides of the NHL's most obscure PATHETIC* rivalry

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Numero Uno

#1. NHL '94 (Genesis)

Well, that wasn't hard.

There are some great games on this list. Games that I spent absurd amounts of time with. Games that I could probably have fun with 10 years down the line.

But there's only one "NHL '94." Well, OK. You can probably consider this an award for 93-95, as they all were excellent games. Still, "NHL 94" is the Sgt. Pepper of hockey video games. Just, flat-out legendary. Some, may say, that it's indeed the greatest sports game ever made.

I'm pretty certain that Sleek and I would be the first to admit that we wouldn't know a hockey puck from a cupcake if it weren't for this amazing game. Sure, Sleek is insane enough to think that the Super Nintendo version of the game is superior. But his heart is in the right place.

When it came to sports games, the Genesis just felt right. The Madden, NBA Jam and NHL series all were right at home on the 16-bit black machine that was hawked by early Mountain Dew-ish marketing. (Sonic the Hedgehog was edgy? Seriously?)

The gameplay is classic and is in every way the spiritual answer to why we all love hockey. It's fast, fun, quirky and violent. Sure, it might have been a little too easy to score wraparound goals and the occasional "trick" goal. But when you're playing against your friend, it's not really cheap, is it?

Not only is this game the gold standard for sports video games, but it's also part of the greatest video game scene in movie history as well. If you love hockey and Vince Vaughn, you owe it to yourself to see "Swingers." Let's just say, even my Kings bias cannot get in the way of laughing hysterically at what happens to "Super Fan #99."

(Also, it's interesting to watch the totally prickish, pre-Disneyfied Vince Vaughn. His movies still give me a chuckle, but only "Macho Man" Randy Savage made amore unlikely turn from evil to "good.")

Sure, it might lack some of the "depth" of modern hockey games, but it genuinely stacks up in the all-important fun factor. I remember rediscovering it when I dusted off my horrible investment of a Sega CD in high school and having just as much fun as when I was a kid. Hell, the Sega CD version even has really piss-poor videos for selected superstar players. (I insisted on repeatedly watching a non-descript Mario Lemieux goal because...well, it's fuckin' Mario Lemieux.)

Ah, NHL '94, thank you for starting a lifetime love of hockey. We had some good times. And you never judged me for calling the greatest goalie in NHL history Patrick Roy.

I'll throw in some honorable mentions and a few of my Hockey Video Game Beefs soon.


Alana said...

I'm with Sleek. The NES kicks some Genesis ass. I once built myself an NHL '94 team based solely on how "funny" the players' names were. The captain was Bob Beers. I think Tony Twist was an assistant. God, I thought I was hilarious.

Anonymous said...

Another guy here who wouldn't be a hockey fan if is wasn't for NHL '94. We had some legendary battles in the dorm back when I was in college. The height of it was when my roommate's favorite player was Theo Fluery and the guy across the hall kept mocking Fluery's name until the rage was unleashed. Good times. I sucked at the game then and always lost to effin' Belfour though, it still haunts my dreams.

Earl Sleek said...

I'm with Sleek. The NES kicks some Genesis ass.

Ah, some SNES-love. Who are these Sega-boys think they're fooling? Where's their 'manual goalie' button?

Holding down the X button is for losers.

Drew said...

The X button would probably be for PS nerds, not Genesis nerds.

I'm with James on this one. This is definitely the greatest hockey game EVAH.

Sean Zandberg said...

I never even tried the SNES version. Sega was the shit! I just can't tell if I liked NHL 94, or Blades of Steel better. I spent so much bloody time with both games.
I love the sound a player makes when he gets smoked: "HOOOOAAAHHH!" And the stinkin goal siren is pretty cool too.

Mike Chen said...

I remember all of the Genesis games up until 96 always had a deke move that worked. It usually took about a week to figure it out after getting a new version, then it was just trying to get free in the slot to do it.

Of course, nothing beat the original NHL (92 I think). I learned how to score without even shooting on that one -- just come in at an angle, make a deke, and run into the corner of the cage and the puck floats right in. I'd win 20-0 with 0 shots on goal.

Showerhead said...

You absolutely cannot go wrong with NHL 94 as your #1 - this is the game that got me through boarding school in the early 00's. I love that with the SNES version at least (I'm sure SEGA had it too?) you could just tap X and your manual goalie could hold his own against someone's attempted wrap-around or deke...

and wow, I have never seen a video game rivalry more intense than they got with NHL 94 - my roommate once duct taped every piece of clothing that this guy across the hall owned to the ceiling as a pre-game taunt.

Anonymous said...

Hours and hours were spent with my pals and NHL 94 ohhh and alot of pot and beer.