kottke.org posts about nhl94

Jeremy Roenick retires as best video game hockey player everAug 06 2009

After 20 years in the NHL, Jeremy Roenick has decided to retire from the league. Topping the list of Roenick's off-ice achievements are two items related to the God-like status of the then-Chicago Blackhawks center in NHL 94.

Wii: first thoughtsNov 29 2006

I got the chance this past weekend to play the Wii at a friend's house for a few hours. Here are some rough initial thoughts:

0. It's fun. Really fun. Like "baby laughing hysterically for no reason other than he's a baby and he's alive" fun. I haven't enjoyed a gaming system this much since a certain plumber and his green-clad brother ba-da-bum-ba-da-bum-bummed their way into our hearts.

1. Not only do I want to play it again right now (so badly) despite having to stand up and move around and stuff, I want to play it again right now (so badly) because I want to stand up and move around and stuff. Reminds me of my 15yo self; all he wanted to do was play hours and hours of basketball in my driveway.

2. With the Wii Sports Pack, Nintendo has made it possible for those who are not physically gifted to nonetheless discover and explore their athletic gifts (like manual dexterity, quickness, timing, etc.). Even your gray-haired relatives can excel at bowling: "It was her 1st time ever playing video games and she has a high of 155 so far. Wii rocks!"

3. Possibly the best thing about the Wii is that you don't really need to be told how to use the controller. The boxing game has zero learning curve (just punch!).

4. Nintendo is betting the farm that just like megapixels don't matter as much nowadays when buying digital cameras as lens quality, camera features, etc., the number of polygons your console's processor spits out at what resolution matters less than how fun the games are. As someone who's nonplussed by fancy graphics in video games, I'll take that bet.

5. The menu interface is a little clunky. Did they not have time to get it right?

6. The day it's possible to buy NHL '94 through the Wii's Virtual Console, my life, such as it is, will be complete.

7. I'm curious how much fine control is possible with the Wiimote after a couple weeks of practice. With a conventional controller, very tiny adjustments are possible by pulsing or tapping the joypad or joystick...you can easily move Mario right to the edge of the staircase or subtly adjust your direction your kart is pointed on the track. But I found it difficult being that precise with the Wiimote while playing Super Monkey Ball.

Now all I need to do is get my own. :)

A confession: I just spent a littleOct 27 2006

A confession: I just spent a little while watching NHL '94 highlight videos on YouTube and consider it time well spent. After all, it is one of the greatest video games ever made. I noticed quite a few of the featured goals in this video were what my little cadre of gamers in college referred to as "cheater" goals where you go across the goal and slapshot hard to the far side. We outlawed them because it was a guaranteed goal and made playing a whole lot less fun. The goal I didn't notice so much of was the "rock the cradle" goal, a beautiful goal and my bread and butter as an NHL '94 player. It happens on the break where you dribble the puck very quickly back and forth from left to right and, when it works, juke the goalie completely. The best part is that after much practice, you can do it with even the slowest players in the game against the best goalies.

Update: Some crazy souls have made a multiplayer version of NHL '94 that works over the internet. You just login to a server, find an opponent, and away you go. There are even leagues!

Sports video gamesFeb 06 2004

Reading this Salon article on sports video games brought back a ton of memories from college. I never got into Madden properly, but I played a ton of Tecmo Bowl, Tecmo Super Bowl, and NHL '94, the latter of which is, in my estimation, the best sports video game of all time (with which Stewart would agree, I'm sure). A quote from the article:

[Bo] Jackson isn't the only athlete to have achieved fame for his video game likeness. Then-Chicago Blackhawks forward Jeremy Roenick's ability to fill the net and make Wayne Gretzky's head bleed in the "NHLPA '93" game was immortalized in the 1996 cult film "Swingers."

Roenick was good in '93, but with the much-improved gameplay in NHL '94, he was a monster. He was blazingly fast, had a quick stick, could stop on a dime, had the hardest shot in the game, and was easily capable of racking up 15-20 goals in three 5-minute periods. But he also had an unfair advantage over other players in the league because the Blackhawks were such a great team. Players like Steve Yzerman, Pavel Bure, Teemu Selanne, and Alexander Mogilny matched up well with Roenick skill-wise, but their teams just weren't as dominant overall. Not to mention that you couldn't taunt your opponents with new Roenick-related lyrics to Pearl Jam's Jeremy (GarageBand karaoke version coming soon) as easily while piloting Bure or Selanne through the heart of their defense for a completely demoralizing goal. Oh, the sting of being taunted with ad-libbed Pearl Jam.

The article also links to an article by Bill Simmons for ESPN Magazine about video game football. Near the bottom of the piece, there's a list of the top video game football players of all time, on which is Randall Cunningham at #3:

The best video game QB of all-time. You could roll him out to either side, scramble for first downs, throw 70 yards with him, avoid sacks...and he never self-destructed like he did in real life. Regardless of how his NFL career turned out, he'll always have his video game career to fall back on.

Based upon my experience with Cunningham in Tecmo Super Bowl, I'd put him at #1. The Eagles, who were not a great team in the game, were unstoppable with a properly coached Cunningham at the helm, mainly because he was a double threat at all times. He had the arm of Dan Marino and the wheels of Bo Jackson. If all the receivers were covered, you could just take off running and get a first down every time.

My sophomore year in college, a group of friends and I played an entire Tecmo season and I luckily drew the Eagles out of the hat during the team selection process. With a near-guaranteed first down (or touchdown) every time I had the ball, I rampaged through the regular season with a perfect record and a ridiculous quarterback rating only to buckle under the pressure in the playoffs. In the next season we started (but never finished), the Eagles were not included in the hat. Go, Randall!

Tags related to nhl94:
video games sports hockey games Jeremy Roenick

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