NHL ’96


Sports (ice hockey)




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NHL ’96

NHL ’96 is a 1995 sports video game developed by EA Tiburon for the SNES, High Score Productions for the Sega Genesis, EA Canada for DOS, and Probe Entertainment for the Game Boy. EA Sports published all versions of the game except the Game Boy version, which was published by THQ. The game is based on the sport of ice hockey and puts the player in control of a hockey team in modes of play such as exhibitions, seasons and playoffs. It is the fifth installment in the NHL game series.

NHL 96 is the first entry in the series to feature real-time three-dimensional graphics through the DOS version’s “Virtual Stadium” technology. The game also features improved and adjustable opponent artificial intelligence, a previously-barred ability to engage in physical fights, new moves such as the spin-o-rama, and general enhancements to the visual animations and audio. NHL 96 was met with critical acclaim, with reviewers commending the game’s improved opponent AI, fluid graphics, and added gameplay features.


An example of gameplay in the DOS version; the player is currently in control of Dean McAmmond of the Edmonton Oilers. Through the DOS version’s “Virtual Stadium” technology, NHL 96 is the first entry in the series to feature real-time 3D graphics.

NHL 96 puts the player in control of either accurate real-life hockey team rosters from the 1994–95 NHL season or customized teams and players.[1] As one of any given player, the controlling player can skate about the rink and stick-handle the puck in any direction, and can move with a short burst of speed with a certain input. When on the offensive, the player can dump the puck into the opposing team’s zone, pass the puck to another player, take or fake shots, and execute a spin-o-rama. When on the defensive, the player can hold or hook, hit the ice to block shots, poke check, and body check.[2][3] Goalies can be manually or automatically controlled, the state of which can be toggled in the main menu.[1] Manually-controlled goalies can dive, poke check, and make save attempts. The player takes control of their goalie if they have saved the puck regardless of the manual or auto setting. In this stage, the player can either flip the puck out of their team’s zone, pass to an open teammate, clear the puck along the boards, or draw a face-off by avoiding any input, at which point the referee will blow his whistle and call the puck dead.[2][3] The skill level of computer-controlled opponents can be adjusted to “Rookie”, “Pro” or “All-Star” in the main menu.[1]

The game’s scoreboard is displayed between periods and any time the game is paused. Along with reviewing basic ongoing game information, the player can view instant replays, change their goalie, edit their winger lines, call a time-out (this option is only available once per game), or abort the game in progress.[5] The players can fatigue and decline in performance quality over time; editing the lines or calling a time-out refreshes the players’ stamina. In addition to the cycling of lines being performed manually or automatically before each face-off, the ability of the players to fatigue can be toggled on or off in the main menu.[1][5] If the player’s team is on a power play, the amount of alternate lines they have access to is restricted.[3]

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