EA HOCKEY / Electronic Arts / Sega Genesis

EA Hockey marks EA's first foray into hockey games; it's basically the exact same game as the first NHL Hockey game, coming out at about the same time in 1991, but apparently EA didn't have the NHL license yet, or this one was released just for Europe or something, because it features national teams instead. This version is apparently not that well known, even GameFAQs doesn't have a proper entry for it - they kick you to NHL Hockey automatically if you search for it, even though they are two seperate and distinct releases.

There is actually one major difference to this one other than the NHL affiliation; it's about 2X faster than NHL Hockey! The game moves at a pleasantly crisp pace, and after playing this side by side with NHL Hockey, NHL Hockey seems so sluggardly as to be unplayable.

No season mode or anything like that; "Regular Season" games here are what would be called Exhibition in any other game, just one-off games between any two teams you choose. The other option is a playoff series, which can consist of either single games or seven-game series.

I think the big success of this franchise was that it was the first one to get the feel of skating translated well into a hockey game. It isn't totally perfect, as stuff like skating backwards on defense isn't well implemented for player control, but it does feel markedly more authentic than anything that came before it.

Interestingly the game also implements a good range of two-player options right from the start, not only allowing head-to-head, but letting players team up on the same side against the computer. This is good, as one of the weaknesses here is that computer AI allies are bad about getting good position and clear passing lanes, leaving it mostly to you to get it past the goalie on your own.

Videos :

* Gameplay Video