By Andrew Liszewski
If there are any young whipper-snappers reading this, you might find it hard to believe, but at one time it was possible to buy a sports game based on one of the professional leagues that didn’t have the letters ‘EA’ emblazoned across the cover. Now I’m not going to go on a rant or even claim that EA necessarily does a bad job with their sports titles, but in every industry competition is a good thing, and when it came to hockey games the Super Nintendo also had NHL Stanley Cup.
It was the first hockey game on a console to simulate a 3D, first-person perspective, and while it relied heavily on the SNES ‘Mode 7’ technology and sprite-based animations, the effect was really convincing. (Even if the camera was extremely frustrating at times.) Of course even back in 1993 game developers still had to deal with licensing issues for sports titles, and unfortunately NHL Stanley Cup was only able to secure the rights for the official NHL teams and logos, not the actual player rosters from the NHLPA. But even the most passive of hockey fans knew that it was worth sending the puck to #99 or #66, even if their jerseys lacked a name on the back.
For a while I actually found NHL Stanley Cup to be quite challenging, and even playing against a friend usually resulted in pretty low-scoring games. That is until one Christmas eve when my 6 year old cousin handed me a devastating and embarrassing 16-2 loss. Now while I’m pretty sure most 6-year-olds could still easily beat me today, he thankfully took pity on me that night and revealed his ‘secret’ for winning the game.
It turns out that NHL Stanley Cup had a small ‘bug’ he’d discovered. If you brought the puck up through the middle of the rink and simply dumped it as you passed center ice, the goalie would inexplicably come too far out of the crease allowing the puck to sail over their head and into the net. Unfortunately from that day on the game stopped being about passing and setting up intricate plays, and became all about stopping the other guy from coming up the middle of the rink and scoring goal after easy goal. Needless to say the game became less interesting after that revelation, but it’s not like EA’s hockey titles at the time were immune from the same problem…