While streaming some classic video games yesterday, I suddenly realized that one of my favorite games, NHL ’95, turned 20 years old this year. I’ve been playing this game for 20 years! It seems like only yesterday I bought the game and brought it home.
All the memories of playing with my brother, of playing out the full season and going 82-0, of winning the Stanley Cup… they all took place over a period of 20 years. Not 5 or 10 like I had it in my head. Where did the time go?
When you love a video game, it becomes timeless. It doesn’t matter how many generations of consoles have come and gone since the time your favorite game was released. You love it just the way it was, on that console. That’s how I feel about NHL ’95.
I have played many of the years of EA Sport’s NHL franchise, but NHL ’95 always holds a special place in my heart. The problem with today’s game is the graphics are so realistic but the artificial intelligence has glaring issues. So while it pulls you in at first with its stunning realism, that veil is quickly pierced the first time a player makes no attempt to go for the puck, players don’t attempt to get into position, or a full speed body check doesn’t faze the puck carrier. At that point you may as well be playing an arcade hockey game. That’s why I turn to NHL ’95, because at least the experience is consistent.
There’s something to be said about the cartridge days of video games. With no ability to patch the game after delivery, game testers had to turn over every stone in the game ten times over to make sure they’ve fixed every flaw. Today developers have turned all of us into beta testers. Products are rushed out unfinished, buggy, and flawed. Then we get flooded with patch after patch as more and more problems are discovered with the game.
Fingers crossed we’ll one day return to a higher quality production cycle, but until then, at least the old consoles won’t let me down.