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Slap-shots and fights

Judging from past EA Sports titles, I had high hopes for NHL ’97 . The first NHL Hockey was a hugely popular game on the Sega Megadrive and was converted some months later to the PC. This was around three years ago and it featured one almost top-down forced perspective viewpoint and VGA graphics. It was said at the time by some that the PC version was inferior in gameplay terms to the Megadrive original. As I only ever played the PC version I can’t comment definitively, but I spent many enjoyable hours playing it, despite at the time having never really seen ice hockey being played or really knowing the rules. The manual was somewhat lacking on this subject and I don’t think I was ever certain what icing was until reading the NHL ’97 manual!

NHL ’97 comes with both MS-DOS and Windows 95 (DirectX) versions on one CD. DirectX and Windows 95 seem to have something against ice hockey games – witness the problems with Virgin‘s NHL Powerplay ’96. As it was this took a lot of persuading before it ran in Windows 95, needing the latest Matrox drivers, yet at least six other DirectX games have worked without problems with my previous drivers. Thankfully, I had no such problems with good old DOS, and as ever my nice standard PC at work with it’s ubiquitous Soundblaster 16 worked fine in Windows 95. Anyway, I digress, the installation program is up to EA‘s usual slick standards and proceeded without a hitch, I chose the middle of three installation options ranging from 25 to 80-something megabytes.

The game starts with a pre-rendered sequence of some basketballs being melted down to make pucks and goalie masks. This is followed by a rapidly changing montage of action video clips. Then, there is a brief wait while some loading is done and then it’s straight into a demo exhibition match. EA know all too well that the first impression that the game-player gets is a visual one and this is certainly very impressive. When EA introduced their Virtual Stadium technology for the ’96 range NHL ’96 was the first to be released and as such was less polished than it could have been, although nonetheless very good. The first generation Virtual Stadium titles used motion-captured sprites, but second time around it’s all polygons with the 3d models built from data obtained using enhanced motion-capture techniques. Additionally, a new technique trade-marked as Motion-Blending has been introduced. As I understand it this improves the problem of switching from a skating animation to a shooting animation smoothly, by, I would guess, interpolating between vertex co-ordinates in the two animations to “morph” from one into the other. Sound has taken big steps forward since the first NHL as well, now, in addition to the rink announcer and link man (the guy who introduces the games) we now have play-by-play commentary, which whilst lacking the variety and humour of FIFA ’96 ‘s Motson, makes up for it by being much more accurately synced to the action, unlike Motson who often says things like “oh and that was inches wide (of the goal)” when in fact it was closer to the corner flag than the net.

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Captures and Snapshots

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Comments and reviews

RED-THE-RABBIT 2021-12-29 -1 point DOS version


RED-THE-RABBIT 2021-12-29 0 point DOS version

I’ve reinstalled the game twice after it told me that it needed to be installed and run from the CD-ROM.

JARED L. 2020-05-13 1 point DOS version

I tried using the Windows installer on both Windows 98 and Windows XP (on VMs, since I can’t install it on any physical machine I have), and in both cases, I got a memory read error, despite having a lot of memory.

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DOS Version

DOWNLOADRIP Version English version 56 MBDOWNLOADISO Version English version 464 MB

Game Extras

Various files to help you run NHL 97, apply patches, fixes, maps or miscellaneous utilities.

PATCHDOS Patch 1.1 English version 832 KBPATCHWin Patch 1.1 English version 734 KBFIXFixed DPlay.dll English version 7 KB

Genesis ROM

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