There are definitive sports game for most systems. Like Tecmo Super Bowl and Bases Loaded were the definitive games in their respective sports for the NES. Some might argue between Madden and ESPN NFL 2K5 for the PS2. Personally, I preferred Madden.
But NHL '94 is different. You see, I would say that it's not only THE definitive hockey game of the 16-bit era, but rather of all time. Because in playing this, I don't see what more you need out of a hockey game. The sounds are fantastic, the controls are spot-on, and it's just overall a fun game. You really don't need a hockey game!
Plus, there's no debate like there was on the NES, when there were brawls on the playground between the Ice Hockey crowd and the Blades of Steel crowd. Being in 1st grade, I remember making a Kindergartner eat an ant because he liked Blades of Steel. Unfortunately, his brother was in 5th grade and stuffed me in a trash can, not because of me picking on his brother, but because I liked Ice Hockey.
By the time I got to 6th grade in 1994, this game was out, and there was finally peace!
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Have to respectfully disagree with you on that one. While NHL '94 is a fine game, to me, the definitive hockey game of the 16 bit era will always be NHL '96 for the Sega Genesis, as it improved and perfected upon everything that was good about the previous versions of the NHL series put out by EA Sports and added key features like a full season mode, full stats, a smarter A.I opponent,create a player mode and of course, fights. All features that were absent from '94. Imho, not only was it the best hockey game of the era, it's one of the best period.