Games: NHL ’94

It’s hard to explain how much the vid means to me, but I’m gonna try.

Back in the early nineties, when I was twelve/thirteen, I had a SNES. Yeah, I was a Nintendo fanboy, and Sega were the dreaded enemy. I’d lord Mario Kart, Zelda, and Mario World over my Mega Drive-owning friends (or Genesis owners, for all you Yankee-doodle-dandies). Yet, when it came to one game in particular, FIFA Soccer, I was at a distinct disadvantage. FIFA Soccer wasn’t out on the SNES yet and my friends would laugh openly at me and my gay kiddie console. I couldn’t have this. I had to get a sports game that wouldn’t just equal FIFA Soccer, it had to destroy it. That game was NHL ’94.

It helped that I was an awkward contrarian. Hockey can kick football’s ass, I’d say. It’s faster, more-skilled, incredibly violent. Why wouldn’t you want to watch and play this sport? The game was great and from it I grew a genuine love for the sport, and more importantly, the Chicago Blackhawks. They were stupidly good. Heck, I even remember their first line and their numbers. Number 30, Ed Belfour was in goal (and one of the best keepers in the game), No.5 was Steve Smith, right-sided defender. Chris Chelios was No.7, left-side defence. They were both hard hitters who’d crush the opposition’s defence. Left attack was No.16 Michel Goulet, right attack was No.28 Steve Larmer.

My absolute favourite, though, was the centre, No.27 Jeremy Roenick. He was epically good and could win you games on his own. His stats were fantasticock. He was pacey, strong, had amazing stick control, and possessed an almost unstoppable shot. I was in awe of him. It was he who made me love hockey and love the Blackhawks. Or, at least a pixelated representation of him did. I used to watch CNN International religiously for the scores and updates as this was the only way possible in the UK, a time before the mass proliferation of the internet. I was crushed when he tore his anterior cruciate ligament just before the play-offs in one season. And I absolutely devastated when he was traded to the Phoenix Coyotes in ’96. A little bit of my love for hockey died that day…

My friends grew to love the title too. I always baggsy the Blackhawks, they’d be the New York Rangers, the Montreal Canadiens, or the Detroit Redwings. There were scraps, bone-crunching tackles, goals and the crazy celebrations. It had it all, and it was so easy to pick up and play. Anyone and everyone could just join. In fact, with all the hockey games I’ve bought since, none have come close. So much so in the current generation of consoles I don’t even have a hockey game. Which brings me to the video…

The big guy in the LA Kings/Gretzky shirt IS Jeremy Roenick. Seeing him in the vid, and seeing the actual gameplay brought all those old memories flooding back. The fun, happy times. It was a good feeling. Hey, maybe videogames aren’t so bad after all?

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