NHL '99 (ps/N64) vs. NHLPA '93 (snes/sega)
NHL '99 made some big strides after the poorly received NHL '98, but NHLPA '93 was the gameplay engine that made it all possible in the first place. Given the choice to play either game at this point in time, I'm betting most people take the Super Nintendo game. NHLPA '93 moves on.
Blades Of Steel (nes) vs. NHL '96 (snes, Sega)
NHL '96 was fun and made some pretty big strides from 93 and 94, but Blades of Steel is Blades of Steel. An easy victory to put them into the semi finals.
Ice Hockey (nes) vs. NHL '95 (snes, sega)
There weren't a whole lot of changes to NHL '95 from it's previous years, but again, the engine it ran on was so good that it didn't really matter. It was still fun. However, most retro gamers will tell you that Ice Hockey was the first hockey video game they played. It's like a father figure to every new game you play today. Ice hockey to the semi's.
NHL '94 (snes/sega) vs. Stanley Cup Hockey (snes)
The graphics for Stanley Cup Hockey were on a different level for a Super Nintendo hockey game. It was something we had never seen before. The downside was that the fast-moving camera angles induced dizziness with a lot of people. It was also really hard to score a goal. We already knew the answer here anyway. NHL '94 dominates.
NHLPA '93 vs. Blades Of Steel
Blades of Steel is iconic, and NHLPA '93 is my favourite childhood hockey game. This is tough. NHLPA '93 was really the spark that ignited all of the EA games you know today and was remarkably addicting. It also had a great glitch that allowed you to score on a wrap around anytime you were down by a goal late in a game. Very crucial. However, Blades of Steel is so legendary in the hockey world that it's impossible to not put through to the finals. Blades of Steel moves on.
Ice Hockey vs. NHL '94
Ice Hockey was the competition to Blades of Steel and there are a lot of people who actually prefer it. You had the beauty of three different sized players - the small speedster, the medium build, reliable scorer, and the slow but unstoppable fat guy. It was like a rhinoceros on skates. Hockey games didn't really exist before Ice Hockey, so it's vitally important to the history of these games. But then you have NHL '94, and that's what we call a game changer. Not only did it capitalize on the best format of hockey game so far, it added one crucial element that would change the game forever. We all know what that is, and for that alone it moves into the finals.
Blades Of Steel vs. NHL '94
Blades Of Steel
Blades of Steel allowed you to do what you always wanted to do in a hockey game – fight. Not only did it allow you to fight, it actually changed angles to a full screen view so you could see it in all its glory on your 21″ Zenith. And if you lost the fight? You were punished with a penalty. You were actually rewarded with a power play if you won the fight. Learn to chuck ‘knucks better or it’s gonna cost your whole team. Ah, hockey in the 80’s.
This game really is a pioneer when it comes to hockey video games. It had penalty shots, tournaments, shoot outs, game-winning celebrations and the best intro music of any hockey game.
Blades of Steel will always be referenced as one of the best ever.
Hockey video games were great. They were fun, they were addictive, they let you live vicariously in the NHL through little digital players. And then NHL ’94 came along and changed everything.
How did it change everything? I’m glad I asked.
The answer is plain and simple. It introduced the one-timer.
You were used to playing hockey video games that at this point were more video game than hockey simulation. It was heavy on button mashing than skilled strategy. But now, with the help of the brilliant NHLPA ’93 game engine, you could play REAL hockey. You could set up plays, you could strategize, you could open up the ice and shoot monster one timers.
This was revolutionary, and it turned an already great game into something legendary.
Blades of Steel will always be one of my favourites, but NHL ’94 was the turning point for hockey video games and was the beginning for what we see today.
It had all the aspects that make a hockey video game fun. There were big hits, you could break the glass with a slapshot, Stanley Cup playoff mode, penalty shots, overtime and it was the last of the series that still allowed fighting. Pool all of this with a new and revolutionary one-timer and you have a perfect hockey game.
It stands out above the rest and is very deserving of champion.