Put me on a desert island and give me one video game to play and I’ll choose NHL 94 every single time. The greatest hockey video game has been revered for some time now, with another round of remembrance this year as EA Sports celebrated the game's 20th anniversary.
Adding to the celebration, when NHL 14 hits shelves on Sept. 10, the game will include a modernized version of the cult classic NHL 94, with current rosters and updated graphics.
"For anybody who played games in the early '90s, NHL 94 was such an iconic game for us and for gamers out there," said EA Sports NHL producer Sean Ramjagsingh on Wednesday. "For us, we felt it was important to tip our hat to that legendary game since it's the 20th anniversary of it."
In NHL 06, EA included a replica version of NHL 94 with the game, but for NHL 14, everything from the graphics to the gameplay will receive upgrades. It will be the NHL 14 engine with an NHL 94 appearance. (And unlike the 06 version, the NHL 94 mode will be available for both Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 users this time around.)
There of course will be plenty of retro feel to the game with the organ music, blue ice, the classic goal celebration and star indicator under players. The gameplay will be fast and over-the-top, taking you back to the day when you'd spend hours on your couch playing friends.
Keeping with EA's attempt to modernize the game, the NHL 94 mode will also feature the ability to pull off some recent skill moves.
"Our initial vision for it was to just replicate the buttons, so we put the three buttons in there and then we were like well, we have this new one button control which is extremely accessible," Ramjagsingh said.
"It kind of maps the single button press like the old buttons did. So what we've done is we've left the left button for the one-touch dekes enabled and the left trigger for the spin move enabled as well."
As Mike Peters was informed by Sue in Swingers, there was no fighting in the original NHL 94, but in 2013 version you will be able to drop the gloves using NHL 14's Fight Night engine. "It was a no-brainer to include that as part of the experience," said Ramjagsingh.
Like NHL 14, fights will show real-time damage on player's faces; so that mean's cuts and black eyes if you take a good pounding.
Finally, you cannot talk about NHL 94 without talking about the legends of the game, like Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and, of course, the immortal Jeremy Roenick. All three will be playable characters in both the NHL 94 mode and NHL 14 itself.
So that left me with one final question for Mr. Ramjagsingh.
Can I make Gretzky's head bleed?
"You cannot make Gretzky's head bleed."
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy
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