kids playing the classic video game Blades of Steel

Although it has clearly reached new heights in today’s innovative world, gaming has generally always been a preference for fans of ice hockey. Alongside reading NHL news and engaging in debates online, lovers of the sport have been exposed to a wide variety of enticing hockey-themed products on a selection of prominent gaming platforms over the years. On the whole, ice hockey games have also always been enjoyable options to session.

Of course, not every ice hockey title ever made is necessarily worth dedicating some serious time and attention to, but there are certainly some standout releases in the pack. These titles enable fans to get their hockey fix when the action isn’t taking place and can be enjoyed alongside other opportunities fans of the sport typically take up, be it playing fantasy, taking part in some live betting on NHL during some epic encounters, and watching television shows dedicated to the sport. These games supplement these other popular offerings beautifully and add to the ice hockey fan experience even further.

With gaming being even more sophisticated than it was a decade or so ago, passionate ice hockey supporters are now being treated to a comprehensive selection of souped-up titles that are hard to fault. These titles wouldn’t be where they are without some of the classic games that came before them, though. So, with that in mind, below is a look back at some of the greatest ice hockey games to have ever come to the fore.

NHL 13 is a much-loved classic

While gaming audiences of today are currently exploring more up-to-date versions of the game, NHL 13 is a release that deserves a special mention. The game was a vast improvement on its predecessor, with its enhanced AI elevating it further; it contained a True Performance Skating System, which added over 1000 new eye-catching animations, goalkeepers were better and therefore more realistic, and it contained a variety of online modes that took the game’s all-around offering up a level. A top release that is adored by ice hockey gamers around the world, NHL 13 is a gem.

Blades of Steel was ahead of its time

If there’s a game from this genre that helped pave the way for some of the modern-day releases that people adore, such as NHL 24, then it’s Blades of Steel. A title that was certainly ahead of its time, this iconic product was released in 1987 on Nintendo and recorded big success among the ice hockey community in particular. While the game’s players and teams were completely fictional, it didn’t detract from the engaging gameplay that revolved around fast-paced action and untold amounts of fighting. A game with a cult following behind it; if you can somehow track down a copy of Blades of Steel, then you’ll be in for a treat.

NHL Hitz is impossible to forget

If you’ve ever sampled NHL Hitz before, then it’s an offering that will never leave your memory. A game where nailing big hits gets you huge rewards, the end-to-end action served up on NHL HItz makes it one of the most epic hockey-related games ever. While it might not have the accuracy of some other titles in this category, NHL Hitz makes up for it with strong doses of physicality in an arcade-style product that so many fans of the sport grew up with. You can even power up your players. The commentary was ace, and it was an incredibly entertaining game to play.

NHL Hitz video game

NHL 2K7 is another favorite

Officially the first next-gen game of its kind, NHL 2K7 is another favorite that helped shape the way in which ice hockey games are made today. While the game’s makers are no longer in operation, the impact they left behind is notable. From the game’s immaculate presentation to its clean graphics that were certainly better than the rest at the time of its release, NHL 2K7 was a flawless product that ice hockey enthusiasts immersed themselves in on a regular basis. A particular highlight was the inclusion of impressively realistic AI, something that added to the game’s authenticity and enticed millions of gamers in. NHL 2K7 isn’t perfect by any means, but it’s an undoubted trailblazer when assessing the next-gen releases in this arena.

YouTube video

Backyard Hockey was developed by Atari

Another truly excellent ice hockey game that many senior supporters might recall, Backyard Hockey, was developed by Atari and is widely regarded as one of the ultimate installments of the series of games. While it did come with some minor issues, the game more than made up for it thanks to its easy-to-grasp controls, its endearing backyard style, and the fast-paced and hugely exciting events that would occur off the back of it. Backyard Hockey’s 3-on-3 aspect also made it a blast to session, and while locating a copy of it might be tough to accomplish in the modern environment, it’s a game that many ice hockey fans will remember fondly.

Special mention must also go to NHL 15, NHL Blades of Steel ’99, NHL ’08, and NHL 2002.


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