The early offering of an NHL title for the fading 16-bit SNES is upon us. However, instead of supplying sharp new features as the Genesis version did, this NHL '97 is almost identical to last year's fine offering. It has the same gameplay engine and options; the only real change is in the updated rosters.
Using an overhead view, NHL'97 has exciting gameplay marred only by slightly loose controls. The graphics are clean, but the players' movements are choppy and it's hard to gauge exactly where the puck is going at times. Organ chimes along with faint on-ice sounds and an intelligible announcer comprise the audio track.
NHL '97 isn't a bad game, it just isn't a new one. Fans expecting a dramatic upgrade will be sorely disappointed.
- To fool opponents, make a break with the puck and head for the goal—opposing players will swarm you. Then, at the last instant, pass the puck to a teammate, who will have a better chance to score.
- When you're in possession of the puck, get past opposing players with the Spin-o-Rama (tap the top Right button).
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Once again, EA's NHL series skates to a Stanley Cup finish with topnotch new features, improved graphics, and the usual addictive action.
Along with the real-life '96 rosters and teams, NHL '97 delivers awesome extras like two All-Star teams and the U.S., Canadian, and European National teams. Even better, NHL'97 loads up star players with cool special moves that enable them to pull fancy feats and dekes on their way to the net.
Beyond the usual shootout, exhibition, season, and playoff action, NHL '97 faces off with two sweet new modes. In the Skills Challenge, gamers take on four drills that test their skating prowess, shot power and accuracy, and goaltending skill. In the Practice mode you hit the ice alone or with a teammate to take on two, one, or no opponents. Both modes really help you improve your game, but more importantly, they inject the game with another layer of raucous, competitive, Open Ice-style fun.
In other respects, NHL '97 has changed little from last year's game. The sounds are virtually the same, which means bone-jarring effects and organ music straight from the rink. The controls also remain unchanged, so you'll find responsive handling and sweet moves like fake shots, drop passes, and more. Graphically, some hot new player animations liven up the game— the new goalie saves are particularly cool. But the smooth player movements and respectable rinks stay true to NHL '96.
As always in this series, the latest NHL attains a new pinnacle of hockey action. On the surface, the game seems very familiar, but NHL '97's killer new features build added depth into the game. Diehard hockey fans will snap it up, but the less fanatical should rent first and scope it out themselves.
- In the puck-handling relay, pound on the speed-burst button whenever you come to a straight stretch.
- Circle behind the goalie and pass to the center for a deadly one-timer shot.
- Using the new special moves on star players is one of the best ways to deke the goalie.
- Triumph every lime in lights by jamming Button C—eventually, you'll pull your opponent's shirt all the way over his head.
NHL 97 hits the ice with an all new Skills Challenge to see how well you perform in the Puck Blast, Rapid Fire, Shooting Accuracy and Puck Handling Relay.
1997 edition of EA's NHL sport simulation series. Improvements in this edition come mostly in the graphical arena, with a refined version of the "virtual stadium" system that adds new camera angles (including the classical top-down one strangely missing from NHL 96), and polygonal players instead of the bitmap-based ones with motion-captured animations.
Fifteen new signature moves have also been added to better reflect the skills of actual pro hockey players. You can play as or against the United States, Canada or European National teams. Returning to the game are: all 26 NHL teams (rosters reflect the 1996 season) and players (with ratings based on the 1995 season); two All-Star squads; configurable penalties; three difficulty levels; line changes; and the ability to create, trade, sign and release players.
NHL 97 features:
- 26 NHL teams plus 18 international and 2 All-star teams,
- Over 650 players, create and manage players,
- 15 signature moves,
- 9 camera angles,
- Complete statistical tracking