In celebration of NHL 94's 20 year anniversary, EA Canada has announced that NHL 14 will include a mode that brings the classic gameplay of the SNES and Genesis original to the franchise's modern engine.
"It is the NHL 14 engine driving it all – driving the gameplay and presentation. That said, we've taken as many nods as we can from NHL 94," EA Sports Producer Sean Ramjagsingh tells Joystiq.
"From the moment you start loading into the game you're going to hear some of the retro NHL 94 music. You're going to hear organs throughout the game mode. You're going to see the retro star as a player indicator with their number and position. You're also going to see retro-style art on the rinks."
The single-game mode, which will only be available for offline play Ramjagsingh says, is built to be as "over-the-top" as the classic game. Helmets pop off players after bone-crunching hits, glass regularly breaks, and goalies can be hit. "After goals and penalties, you're going to see some interesting some retro nods to NHL 94 as well. It's all part of the visuals," he adds.
"All those fun elements back in the game with modern day players and a modern day look."
EA Canada had previously included an emulated version of NHL 94 as a special feature in the PlayStation 2 version of NHL 06, which included the game's original teams. Because the National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA) does not retain licensing rights to retired players, the rosters of the emulated games were stripped out. EA's NHL 94 stands as the first game in the company's long-standing franchise that featured both official team names and official rosters, after licensing deals with the NHL and its Players Association was struck.
With the classic NHL 94 gameplay making its return, it's fortuitous that the Chicago Blackhawks were this past season's Stanley Cup champions. In the original game, the Blackhawks were decidedly the most destructive force of skill and defense with players such as Jeremy Roenick, Chris Chelios and Ed Belfour at the helm. With the game feeding in modern rosters and statistics, players should look forward to a more balanced experience.
NHL 14 launches on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on September 10, in North America.