I love EA Sports' NHL franchise. Since I was a little kid, the game acted as a virtual outlet for my passion of hockey. In anticipation of the series' newest installment, NHL 14, the producers of the game announced that an NHL '94 mode would be included as an homage to the 20th anniversary of the seminal game's release (NHL '94 is still viewed by some as one of, if not the best, hockey game of all-time).
The mode will include blue ice, no rules, the iconic 'star' identifiers, simplified controls and three legacy players in Jeremy Roenick, Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky. Otherwise, the mode will have all the amenities of NHL 14, which includes updated graphics and rosters.
Here's a 35-minute preview video showing a complete demo of a game in NHL '94 mode, via Gamespot:
In essence, the inclusion of this mode is a nice add-on to the game. It will probably be a fun little component that can supplement the experience with a few extra hours of game play. At the very least, you and your friends can play a few games before going out, or you could play with a less experienced opponent (a young child, nephew, niece or whatever).
At the end of the day, I doubt anyone is going to buy NHL 14 with the sole intention of playing NHL '94 mode. In addition, I doubt the producers included the mode with that intention in mind. However, when I first received the announcement in my inbox, I thought this might be a mode that I'd buy the game for. I thought this might be the realization of a dream I'd had for several years now.
I thought EA Sports might be releasing a game that included old school rosters with modern graphics.
Growing up watching hockey, I was enthralled by the rivalry between the Colorado Avalanche and Detroit Red Wings. I loved watching the Legion of Doom face Dominik Hasek and the Buffalo Sabres. Alexei Yashin, Curtis Joseph, Darius Kasparaitis (random, I know), Mats Sundin, Mike Modano, Peter Bondra, Scott Stevens and any other mid- to late-90s player acted as a defining component to my development as a hockey fan.
So, when the nostalgia bug starts gnawing at me, I go into storage, pull out my Super Nintendo and fire up NHL '98 (the one with Peter Forsberg on the cover). After rolling through the rosters for a bit to catch up on lost time, I settle on a matchup and eventually get bored because the gameplay and graphics lack the dynamics of the modern day.
Still, I'm left wanting. There are times where I'm searching for a way to relive those classic battles from my childhood in a more interactive experience than watching old videos. A virtual simulation would seemingly scratch that itch. If EA Sports could produce an NHL installment that focused on the current year and a year from the past (complete with a full season and playoffs), it would be a dream come true.
Of course, I understand that an undertaking of that magnitude is probably a bit unrealistic. Getting the alumni licensing would probably be a nightmare in and of itself. But it would be awesome to have the entire 1996-97 Philadelphia Flyers available as a playable team in NHL 15. To have the ability to send a pass with the 1996 version of Joe Sakic to his contemporary Foresberg in an attempt to swing a go-ahead goal against Mike Vernon would be a dream.
For now, at least, it appears as though it will have to remain that way.