The EA Sports NHL franchise of video games has almost become another holiday to mark on the calendar. Every September, kids and adults alike line up to get their hands on the newest addition and play it until their thumbs are left raw, bleeding and otherwise useless.
We thought in honour of the release of NHL 16 coming out today (Sept.15th), we’d take a little stroll down memory lane and list our top 5 favorite retro hockey video games of all time. These games are the ones we were most excited to find under the Christmas tree and that we remember playing the most with our childhood friends, brothers, sisters or dads. These games were more than just a way to pass the time, they became a part of our childhood and a way to connect with the game we love on a whole different level. Over the years, the games have become so much more advanced and realistic but sometimes the old ways are best. Without further ado, our top 5 retro hockey video games of all time:
5) Wayne Gretzky’s 3D Hockey (Nintendo 64- 1996)
This was the first hockey game to come out for the Nintendo 64 and it did not disappoint. Being able to control your favorite NHL stars as 3D versions of themselves for the first time was insane, and the fact that you could play with 4 players made this an after school classic with friends. Was there any better feeling than winding up for a power clapper and lighting the net on fire? We don’t think so.
4) NHL Hitz 2003 (Playstation 2 – Xbox – Nintendo Gamecube – 2003)
Some might be surprised to see this game make this list, unless you played it. This game focused more on fun and less on making things realistic by allowing you to create a team full of your buddies, then customizing the jerseys and playing in outlandish arenas. Playing in the Roman Coliseum and on the Moon were just a few of the awesome features that came along with this classic. Smashing your friends through the glass over and over again was also pretty entertaining.
3) Ice Hockey (Nintendo Entertainment System- 1988)
This is a game that can slip through the cracks a bit, but if you ever did play it you’ll remember just how fun and addictive it was. Choosing your team from international countries, and then customizing your squad with different player types let you create your team based on how you wanted to play. Did you go all big guys and sacrifice speed for power and a great shot, all small speedy guys, or a mix of both? This gem is essentially the godfather of all hockey games. If Chris Chelios were a video game this would be it. Older than dirt, two dimensional and still knows how to get up and down the ice with the young guys.
2) NHL ’94 (Super Nintendo – 1993)
An obvious classic that has to be on everyone’s list is NHL’94. It essentially is the benchmark for all of the EA Sports hockey games to come after it. Ahead of its time in so many ways, one of the many highlights of this gem was lacing ‘em up with a buddy and pulling an all-nighter playoff run that ended by hoisting the Holy Grail, the Stanley Cup itself. This was the first time many of us had the pleasure of hearing that sweet, sweet bellowing “EA SPORTS…It’s in the game” blasting from the TV. This game was a religion itself. Like church bells in the distance, if you we’re in the house, the sound of this game getting fired up by your brother down in the basement had you on a Sunday morning pilgrimage to Mass. Just like the Hockey Gods intended.
1) Blades Of Steel (Nintendo Entertainment System- 1987)
Topping the list is Blades of Steel which for almost everyone is the first hockey video game they ever played. So many great things about this game, from the mini-games in between periods, to the unreal scraps, to “get the pass” (is that what the announcer says?). Many a childhood evening were spent playing this classic
So that is the list of our top 5 “Retro Hockey Video Games”. What game do you think should’ve been included that wasn’t? What game made our list that shouldn’t have?