The Reckoner!

NHL '94. Has there ever been a better sports game?

It occurred to me that they continue to make hockey games.  Lots of them.  EA makes one every year.  Calls it NHL 'XX and everything.

My question is: why do they bother?  They already achieved perfection twenty years ago with a little game by the name of NHL '94, and it doesn't matter how many polygons or HD pixels or online game features they ladle on, NHL '94 is now and will forever be sheriff of this town.

I'd make a persuasive argument, but let me say this much:

When I said NHL '94 in the title, did you not feel the immediate desire -- nay compulsion -- to get your hands on a Sega Genesis and two hours of free time?  Did you not yearn for the organ to play its faceoff music, to see the kid in the cowboy hat banging on the glass, to hear the vicious bite of another one-timer fired Mike Richter's way?

Let me ask you this, fair Reckonaut!  Is NHL '94 secretly the best sports video game ever made?  Damn your FIFAs, damn your Maddens, damn your Baseball Stars, is this not NHL 94's world, and all of us just players on its hockey-fight choked stage?

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Reckoning Comments!

I hemmed and hawed for what seemed like forever on this one.  If you had just said best hockey game ever, then this would have been easy.  NHL 94 was so good that EA, essentially, just slaps new rosters and slightly prettier graphics on it every year and calls it "NHL [insert year]".  (Heck, the most recent game included the explicit option to turn on the NHL 94 controls!)

But, for all of NHL 94's greatness, it didn't change the way the sport is percieved by the world at large like the actual greatest sports game ever- NBA Jam.  I'm open to arguments to the contrary, but NBA Jam completely changed the face of basketball.  You can see it even in the simple way NBA Jam popularized an almost entirely new lexicon of basketball terms and references, from saying a guy was "on fire" to the superlatives used to describe a dunk.  NBA Jam also predicted the almost complete removal of the mid-range shot from the modern NBA team's arsenal.  

PS A fair argument can also be made for the superiority of Mutant Leauge Hockey, if only because of the joy of scoring a goal on the Demon Net.  

NBA Jam!

This whole "dunking" thing from NBA Jam was lost on me, since I insisted on playing as the Sixers, whose NBA Jam team comprised of the white-hot star power of Jeff Hornacek and Clarence Witherspoon.  As far as I was concerend, NBA Jam was a three-point shooting competition where you could occasionally make layups.

This insistence on Philadelphia teams may explain my predilication to NHL '94.  Who would you rather play as?  Clarence Witherspoon, or Rod Brind'Amour, the man of a thousand broken noses?

@Dan K

Somewhere, Clarence Weatherspoon is crying that no one remembers his name.  


Dang, so it is!  What probably rubs it in for Mr. Weatherspoon is that I spelled Hornacek and Brind'Amour successfully -- with proper placement of the apostrophe and everything -- but completely whiffed on his otherwise normal and easy to spell name.  Such it was being a Sixers fan in the Ray Lucas years.

The Reckoner!