Posted on January 28, 2013
My Top 100: #26 – NHL ’94
There were some Christmas mornings where I got more than I expected. On one hand, it was fantastic. On the other, I knew I was getting spoiled more than I probably deserved, which always left me feeling kinda guilty.
Off the top of my head, I don’t quite remember what I got for Christmas in ’93, but I do know that I recieved a game in there, somewhere. Perhaps even more than one… not sure, though. In any case, Michael and Brian across the street got NHL Stanley Cup that year, which I was quite jealous of. I got to play it a few times, and enjoyed the “3D” aspect of it. It really was quite impressive compared to the simple top-down view of NHLPA Hockey ’93, which I had played about a year before.
As we were leaving for Baie-Sainte-Anne to see the family (as we always did the day after Christmas), I convinced my folks that a pit stop at Blockbuster Video was necessary. I wanted to play NHL Stanley Cup, and show it off to my dad and cousins in the Baie!
Screw those other games I got; I wanted to rent something else!
Just thinking about that kinda makes me feel bad. I probably wouldn’t feel that great if I got my niece something, and she deemed it “not good enough”. But, because I was spoiled, I got my wish, and we stopped at Blockbuster.
We got there, and go figure… NHL Stanley Cup was out. My dad suggested NHL ’94 as an alternate choice, even though I wasn’t particularly keen on it. It seemed okay, I guess, but Stanley Cup was REALLY cool to show off. This was just a slight re-tooling of the NHLPA game I had already played, and felt like it wasn’t really worth renting.
Some guy behind the counter started talking about how ‘94 was actually a vastly superior game, and before I knew it, we were walking out with it. Fine, I guess. I’d play it, but I’d mostly just stick to the games I actually got as gifts. That was probably the right thing to do, anyway.
As it turned out, NHL ’94 truly was the better game of the two. Where Stanley Cup felt like a free-for-all, ‘94 really allowed you to adopt whatever strategy you wanted, and it flowed a heck of a lot smoother… Mode 7 graphics were cool and all, but when the puck would change hands repeatedly and the camera would rotate back and forth a few times, it made me somewhat dizzy.
Speaking of smoothness, the graphics and animation actually run much smoother on the Sega Genesis version. I’ve had the opportunity to play it, and it just doesn’t feel the same as the Super NES one. It almost played too good! I liked how the Super NES version made it feel like every player was “heavy”, and harder to control in close-quarters action with opposing players. It felt more real, somehow.
I also really liked how every player had attributes that made them all unique, and could all be used to your advantage somehow. Some were fast, but couldn’t shoot very well. Some were slow, but could land hard-hitting checks. Some might lose the puck quite easily, but made up for it with hard slapshots. It also didn’t matter what team you chose, since even the most seasoned player could take down the super-stacked Pittsburgh Penguins with the lowly Ottawa Senators (sorry Greg, haha).
It didn’t take long before we owned the game, because my dad liked it enough to buy it for himself. I could hear him in the next room, playing it with family friends I didn’t normally associate with playing games. One time, he even excitedly called me out of bed to show me the penalty shot he had just scored on. It actually was kinda cool, since it wasn’t often you could score by pressing the X button (the one that flipped the puck up into the air, ever so gently).
During the Detroit Red Wings 1995 run to the Cup Finals, I would play a game against whatever opponent the Wings were playing that night. It was all superstition, but I truly believed I was the one willing them towards the Stanley Cup, and that I had to keep up my end of the bargain in order for them to win it all!
What happened that year? They got to the Finals!
Did they win the Cup? Well, no. They kinda got swept. The New Jersey Devils beat them 4-0 on the way to their first Cup in franchise history… bastards.
They did win eventually it all though, back-to-back, in 1997 and 1998. Whenever I play the game now, I still have that weird superstition in the back of my mind. If I play as the Wings against the Chicago Blackhawks, chances are pretty good that they’ll win tonight, right??
(Answer: No, they lost to the ‘Hawks in overtime last night.)