NHL ’94 still remains one of the greatest video games of all time

NHL '94
NHL '94 (EA SPORTS)

I remember my uncontrollable excitement when NHL ’94 by EA Sports came out. This was the video game I was waiting for with unreal anticipation.

Finally, I was not only going to be able to control the Stanley Cup destiny of my favorite team, I could be Wayne Gretzky on the L.A. Kings. What would it be like to suit up as the Penguins’ Mario Lemieux, or fire one-timers like the Blues’ Brett Hull? What did it feel like to unleash an Al MacInnis slap shot with the Flames?

Thanks to the NHL and NHLPA finally coming together on licensing, I would get to experience that incredible feeling and my SEGA Genesis console would get me there.

NHL ’94 a video game great

NHL 94 Documentary
NHL 94 (NHL.com)

Today is National Video Games Day and it only seems right to put some praise on a game that’s still being played passionately in 2022. Released 29 years ago in 1993, it remains one of the most critically acclaimed video games.

According to Jeremy Roenick, who played for the Chicago Blackhawks at the time, it made him famous. The previous version of the game, NHLPA 93, featured a scene in the movie Swingers. Actor Vince Vaughn’s character is playing as Roenick and the Hawks against his buddy, ‘Superfan 99′ whose wearing a Kings’ Gretzky jersey. Before you know it, Roenick wipes out Gretzky to knock him out of the game.

“It’s (NHL 94) my claim to fame,” Roenick said via NHL.com “It’s the No. 1 thing that people talk to me about everywhere I go.”

Mark Lesser NHL ’94 hero

When it comes to who needs to be thanked for this great game, it’s programmer Mark Lesser.

Oddly enough, Lesser didn’t know much about hockey but the game testers were huge fans.

“A lot of the testers were hockey fanatics and I didn’t know anything about hockey, so they would test it and give me some ideas,” Lesser recalled. “The testers would say, ‘This should be faster,’ or ‘This needs to happen.'”

One of those ideas was the addition of the one-timer which was a new feature to the game. It was a game-changer if you will.

NHL ’94 Legacy

Thanks to the website NHL94.com, fans of the game can revel in the awesomeness of this 16 Bit classic online. Plus, you can enter tournaments and grow this awesome community.

One of the game’s biggest fans, Mikey McBryan put together a great documentary called ‘Pixelated Heroes’ and it’s a must watch. You can see it below or follow it to YouTube.

You know what? I think I’m going to dust off my old Genesis and try to make a quick run to the Cup. I still get chills when my pixelated captain carries that trophy on the ice.