Saturday, November 24, 2012

Old School Video Game Review: NHL Hitz 2003

While digging through the basement to find the Christmas decorations we stumbled upon our old Playstation 2 and copy of NHL Hitz 2003. A bunch of beers later, the memories of playing this game in marathon sessions were fresh in our minds. The NHL Hitz series offered an arcade-style of play compared to that of EA Sports' NHL series and we had some great times playing this game on hours end. If you were a fan of NFL Blitz, than you were a fan of NHL Hitz for it's massive hits and it's fast-paced play. The game took away some of the traditional elements of hockey games as you only had 3-on-3 play and the team rosters were limited to only stars and fan favourites which always made for a good time.

EA Sports' 3-on-3 Arcade that comes with every NHL game now is essentially a shittier version of NHL Hitz. While the 3-on-3 Arcade features the big hits and powerups, NHL Hitz 2003 had massive hits and much more fun game modes such as our all-time favourite: Franchise Mode. I remember playing the Franchise Mode the night before I left for Australia until 7am because I wanted to be able to sleep on the plane and get ready for the time change. We put in almost a 9-hour playing session and beat the the game mode in one sitting.

Franchise Mode differed from today's NHL series franchise mode in that it was really a glorified ladder tournament in which you could create your own team and advance through rounds playing made-up teams to eventually competing against NHL and international squads. The best thing about the mode was the ability to earn experience points from completing tasks during games (50 hits in one game, etc) and were able to use these points to upgrade your equipment and make your players better. You could get better sticks to have a harder shot, bigger shoulder pads for harder hits and upgrade your gloves for better dangling. As you advanced through the rounds and moved from playing in warehouses to NHL rinks, the competition got harder so you needed to earn these upgrades to have a chance to win.

Another fun aspect of the game is that if you lost a fight your player would be lost for the game and a replacement needed. This added a strategic element to the game when trying to beat NHL squads as you could get rid of Mario Lemieux or Steve Yzerman by simply beating them in a fight. It was truly unique at the time and a lot of fun to play with a group of friends.
                              Lindros was losing the fight, until his Mom set Rob Blake on fire...

NHL Hitz 2003
also offered a Season Mode that was fun as you could do a fantasy draft and compete for the Cup in a full 82-game season on your way to trying to win sought after individual awards such as Most Hits and Most Fights Won. There were also some silly mini-games offered such as attempting to break more windows than an opponent that helped add to NHL Hitz 2003 replay value. Most of all, the game was just plain fun to play against a friend with massive hits and lots of laughs.

Overall, NHL Hitz 2003 is a classic game that we'll definitely be playing over the next few weeks with the NHL Lockout still on. If you can get your hands on a copy, you won't be disappointed with this NFL Blitz/NBA Jam-type fun on ice.


  1. Reminded me of that old arcade hockey game you could play at bars and arenas.

  2. Great game

  3. Best game ever made

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