NHL 94 Rewind featured in NHL 21 is video game nostalgia at its best

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When it’s true love, there’s no need to wait for an anniversary to celebrate.

EA Sports has added a special NHL ’94 Rewind edition to go with this year’s NHL 21, the latest version of the popular video game franchise.

It’s not the 25th anniversary of the release of the 16-bit title NHL ’94, which has grown to legendary status over the years. And there was no talk of waiting until 30 years.

“We had a third-party company come to us with the proprietary software and ask if we were interested,” Sean Ramjagsingh, executive producer of EA Sports NHL, told NHL.com. “And we made it happen. … It came together pretty quickly. In about four or five months it was finished.”

EA has dipped its toes into the NHL ’94 waters before — NHL 14 featured a “retro-mode” option, which was the modern game but played on ’94’s famous blue ice and featured a star under every player — but NHL ’94 Rewind is a full cannonball.

“This is legit NHL ’94,” Ramjagsingh said. “It’s true to the roots of ’94. It has everything ’94 had, except it has the current rosters. … But it’s all there. The one-timers and the wraparounds, they’re all in there. It’s a nice trip down memory lane. But it’s also fun to see how far games and gaming has come as a whole throught the years.”

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, the cover athlete for NHL 21, was pretty excited about the throwback.

Tweet from @ovi8: I played as a kid!!! So sick @easportsnhl has NHL 94 Rewind with all the guys who play now in new NHL21 game!! Pre-order #NHL21 and you can play #NHL94 Rewind on October 30th ������https://t.co/tmrx8OYEgq pic.twitter.com/2eu2lKvFho

“I played as a kid!!! So sick @easportsnhl has NHL ’94 Rewind with all the guys who play now in new NHL21 game!!” Ovechkin tweeted.

A digitized Ovechkin, complete with signature smile, was shared by EA to promote the release.

This version of the game lives up to the hype, said Raphael Frydman, the defending champion of the King of 94 Tournament, which puts the best NHL ’94 players in the world against each other every year. Frydman won the tournament in Las Vegas in 2019, but due to concerns surrouding the coronavirus, the tournament will be played exclusively online Dec. 5-12.

“This is literally NHL ’94 ported into a modern console,” Frydman told NHL.com. “It is 99 percent the exact game. They fixed some bugs, added some menu items that are unique and cool. Even just some minor things blew me away.”

Though NHL ’94 Rewind is currently only available for those who preordered NHL 21, it will become more widely available in December. The only drawback to NHL ’94 Rewind is that it is not available for online play, something Ramjagsingh wouldn’t rule out moving forward.

“We are always getting fedback from players. I have a buddy in New York who is constantly asking me about roster updates and online play for the NHL ’94 version,” he said. “We will continue to monitor feedback from players and if there is a demand for it, we’ll see.”

Frydman said, “It looks so sharp and clear. And the gameplay is just so ridiculously fun. If this version of NHL ’94 becomes available online, I think people will play it forever and ever and ever.”

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