Top Hockey Video Games (Part III)

NHL 2007

No jokes, NHL 2007 made the franchise what it is now. The introduction of the skill stick control system produced the most genuine hockey video game at the time and was EA’s best version.

Gone were the days of button mashing, since the skill stick made you feel like you were in total control of the player from head to feet. It still had a good number of kinks to work out, but this game no doubt laid the foundation for the next decade of the series and was the start of what it is today.

NHL 2003

Two words. Hero Line.

Hero lines were basically a group of your team’s best five players with their ratings raised to 99 overall in the waning minutes of the game. If you’re down a goal in the last minute of an NHL 2003 contest, use your hero line and you’re essentially guaranteed to tie the game up. If you’re defending against your opponent’s hero line, icing the puck was the only wise choice to live.

Wayne Gretzky’s 3D Hockey

Forget just hockey, Wayne Gretzky’s 3D Hockey is in the pantheon of all video games.

It was unrivaled fun for its time. The first time you saw a goalie turn into a brick wall, you were hooked. Add in slapshots so hard that it sent the netminder falling back through the goal, and the chance to light the net on fire if you scored enough, and you have the ideal amount of appeal and amusement.

Hockey video games were first played in an arcade on machines such as this one.

Nintendo 64 was the more well-liked version, but the stand-up arcade style with the greasy joysticks was exciting because of its rarity. Hockey arenas that possessed Wayne Gretzky’s 3D Hockey were visited by kids feeding the machine countless numbers of their parents’ quarters. Simply put, any rink that had the arcade version was a rink rat’s oasis.