Hockey Video Games.
Since 1979 when the first one was released for the Magnavox Odyssey, many have tried their hands at a sport that’s easy to recreate but difficult to master in the video game world.
While there have been plenty of success stories like the over-the-top action of NHL Hitz 20-02 to the depth that was NHL 2004, there’s been a fair share of trainwrecks, too. And that’s what we’re gonna focus on today: hockey games that are remembered for one reason or another as being absolutely awful.
I’m Mike from Sports Gamers Online, and these are the Top 10 Worst Hockey Games of All Time.
10. Blades of Steel: Game Boy
Up until recent technology, it’s been pretty safe to say that sports games on mobile systems just haven’t been that good. Case in point: Blades of Steel for the original Nintendo Game Boy.
One of the most popular hockey series of the early days of gaming, Blades of Steel was an obvious choice at the time to release on the new portable console. But as the saying goes: just because you can do something, that doesn’t mean you should.
Because of the limitations in 1991, the Game Boy just couldn’t handle a game like Blades of Steel. It was just far too slow to anyone’s liking, and the 2-bit color palette made every team and player look indistinguishable.
9. NHL Faceoff 2003
This was a game that pretty much put the nail in the franchise’s coffin. At one point, the NHL Faceoff series had shown real potential of being Sony’s version of what the MLB the Show franchise would ultimately become. Unfortunately, things went downhill fast towards the end, especially with Faceoff 2003.
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The game featured extremely limited mode offerings with no Dynasty or Create-A-Team feature to be found. On top of that, the game looked awful for a PS2 game that came out two years after the system’s release.
With the EA Sports offering out there and Sega’s product continuously improving, it was no surprise when the series died after the game’s release.
8. NHL PowerPlay 96
Remember when Virgin Interactive was a thing? If not, then you likely – and luckily – won’t remember their attempt at a hockey game.
NHL Powerplay 96 had all the feeling of a great game, until you actually started playing it. The controls were some of the most unresponsive gaming has ever seen – seriously…an unplugged controller had better response time than this game – and the visuals were so jagged that it was hard to make out anything on the ice. Sure, 3D graphics were just starting out in 1995, but this definitely wasn’t a good early showing.
7. NHL Blades of Steel
As we talked about earlier, Blades of Steel for the NES was a fantastic game that’s still remembered fondly today. The same can’t be said for this sequel that — and let me be clear — NO ONE asked for.
NHL Blades of Steel…was…slow. Like a snail going through quicksand slow.
Framerates were awful, animations were clunky and it controlled as bad as it looked.
6. TV Sports Hockey
Another slow-playing game, TV Sports Hockey had some of the worst input lag in sports gaming history. Players rarely performed the actions you wanted them too, and the puck seemed to have a mind of its own.
The game’s goaltending was no better as it was like goalies weren’t even there. Should you actually get your player to control the puck and get a proper shot off, you were likely to score far more often than not.
The one plus this game had was that it looked pretty damn impressive for its time and aged pretty well visually.
5. Great Ice Hockey
The only thing “great” about this game is its name. From terrible graphics – even for the Sega Master System – to poor puck physics, Great Ice Hockey feels more like a demo product than a supposedly finished game.
Everything felt too bouncy on the ice, including the puck. It was as though you were playing hockey on trampolines with a rubber bouncy ball.
To make things worse, it was one of three games that required the awful Sega Sports Pad, a controller that replaced the D-pad with a trackball thinking that would somehow make things better. That meant that unless you had the Sports Pad, you couldn’t even attempt to play this terrible title. Though, even if you had the Sports Pad, it was so unresponsive that the game was virtually unplayable.
4. NHL 15
Where to start with this one…
NHL 15 was the EA Sports’ series first release on the PS4 and Xbox One. To say it would’ve been better off not releasing is an understatement. This game was so stripped down that it almost made Madden 06 for the Xbox 360 look like a deep gaming experience.
Gone completely were modes like Online Team Play, EA Sports Hockey League and GM Connected (which has never returned). Modes like Be-A-Pro and GM Mode remained, but they were stripped down of most of their features making them pretty much unplayable. I mean GM Mode launched without the NHL Draft available.
Seriously, had there been another AAA NHL game on the market at the time for the systems, EA’s NHL series could’ve been blasted away to irrelevance because of this poor effort.
3. Street Hockey 95
As someone who’s played inline hockey for nearly 25 years, this is a version of the sport that’s near and dear to my heart. That’s why it pains me so much to have a Street Hockey game – the only one ever released – a part of this list.
To put it bluntly, this game just wasn’t fun at all.
Slow and laggy controllers killed any flow the game tried to have while it looked so blurry in motion that it was hard to tell what was going on.
2. NHL Stanley Cup
A game that focused the camera solely on the puck. It’s hard to understand who thought this was a good idea or why it was done in the first place.
I mean, I get wanting to give off that 3D look on the SNES, but this just wasn’t the right way to go about it. Because of the puck-locked camera, players would get lost if they weren’t close by the puck. If you had fast, back-and-forth action – which, in case you didn’t know, hockey is known for having – then it was tough to get a feel for anything on the ice.
It also became pretty nauseating when the camera would just spin around and around like a carousel.
1. Actua Ice Hockey 2
What do you get when a game studio wants to put out an NHL game but can’t get the official license? You get Actua Ice Hockey 2.
A UK-based hockey game, Actua is known for its clear knockoff teams and players like M. Madano and the Dallas Gladiators and P. Domitra and the St. Louis Jazz. While that’s all fun and good, what isn’t fun nor good is the rest of this game.
A rip off in nearly every sense of the word, Actua Ice Hockey 2 feels like one of those games you get from China that ports a newer title to an older game system. The animations make the players look like they are sliding all over the place, the AI is oblivious to most of the action going on, the puck glitches around the stick, players never really look like they have control of the puck…should I say more?
I don’t know what’s worse: The fact that I played this game back in the day or that it was so laughably bad that I actually remember so much about it?
So sports gamers, what do you think is the WORST hockey game of all time? Let us know in the comment section below. Want more great sports gaming content daily? Subscribe to SGO on YouTube, today!