Game Name: Wayne Gretzky and the NHLPA All-Stars
Developer: Time Warner Interactive (Genesis) and Sculptured Software (Super NES)
Publisher: Time Warner Interactive
Platforms: Super NES (Super Nintendo Entertainment System), Sega Genesis
Release Date: December 1995
After playing some Police Quest 4, I wanted to play something different. Having looked around my Retropie, I opted for a hockey game that I wanted to play again. I had played it a very long time ago but I do not remember much from it. I remember liking more the EA NHL franchise at the time.
Let us see if my opinion of this game has changed.
The presentation of the game is ok for its time. You have pictures of Wayne Gretzky on the menus. He is mostly wearing Team Canada jersey's. The reason for this is because this is an NHLPA only licensed game. It is not an NHL approved game. So you can play with the players of the NHL and you also can play them in their respective cities. However, NHL team logos are not shown, nor is the NHL logo seen as well.
You have the choice of playing Exhibition, Professional Tournament, Playoffs (Best of 7) and Season. You can also play as an international team. You can play as Sweden, Finland, Czechoslovakia, Russia, United States and Canada.
You do have the option of choosing Arcade Mode or Simulation Mode. Arcade mode has no real rules. There are no offsides and Icing. The penalties are also rare as you get penalties only when you fight. Loser of the fight gets the penalty. Simulation mode has those rules reinstated. On my play through I chose Arcade Mode.
The one thing that can be off putting is that the team colours are off. Remember that this is not a licensed NHL game, so the real NHL team colours are not reflected in the game. You can apparently customize the team colours, but I did not try this on my play through.
The game opts for the Blades of Steel gameplay with players playing Left to Right. EA at the time had their games go vertical like in Atari Hockey (Up and down).
In terms of control, there is not much here. You have Pass and Shoot which is expected. You also have a hit button which will body check your opponent.
Wayne Gretzky and the NHLPA All-Stars - Sample Gameplay
The first impression that I get when playing this game is that it is very similar to ESPN Hockey. However, I do find the controls for the latter to be better. The buttons work for the most part but it took me a few games to get adjusted.
The issue that I have is how the players move. It is as if they tried to have arcade gameplay mixed in with some realism. The result is that often I over skated the puck or I could not get to a loose puck. My player would often just zoom by a loose puck for what felt like minutes and I would end up losing possession.
The graphics are not as crisp as other games of the era. The sprites look very robotic and it takes a little bit from the experience.
The one part that I was very disappointed in was the ability to score. I was able to win a tournament and that is great. However, there is no real way to score. You can shoot 70 times at a goalie and randomly 3 will go in. It seems to play on probability. In other games it does not feel that way even if it may be. You can take NHL Hockey, Blades of Steel or even Brett Hull Hockey '95, they all make you believe that you can score on every play. Here I can do the same play 10 times and I will score 2 times randomly.
The ability to make pass plays are almost non-existent. Most of your passes will get intercepted as the AI is not very good. The players just seem to go where they feel like. Many of my scoring plays were individual efforts.
You can choose the team strategy but in the end, I did not see a difference in choosing different ones. You have Defensive and Aggressive. The AI is so bad that you cannot tell difference between both choices.
In the end, there are many other, much better hockey games that you can play. This is especially true on the Sega Genesis. NHL '94 is still one of the best on the system and this game did not dethrone that thought.
What do you think? Was I on the mark? Let me know below.