NHL ’24 ROM Hack Reimagines Classic Game, Zamboni And All

NHL 94 Sega Genesis ROM hack playing on LCD monitor.

Thirty years is a long time to keep a piece of software alive, but there aren’t many pieces of software like NHL ’94 for the Sega Genesis. Despite new annual iterations of publisher Electronic Arts’ NHL hockey video game some players never connected with it like quite like they did in 1994. For years now it’s been a tradition for members of the NHL ’94 forums to incorporate the hockey league’s current players into the Sega Genesis original, however, the work [Adam] contributed this season goes beyond a mere roster update. This NHL ’24 ROM hack is more like a complete overhaul. Everything that was old is new again.

Graphical comparison of NHL 94 versus the NHL 24 ROM hack.
See if you can spot all the changes from the original (left) to the NHL ’24 remix (right).

Home ice was completely revamped for every team in the game. New franchises that never existed in 1994, like the Las Vegas Golden Knights, appear with current logo designs and player portraits. Every team’s roster has been meticulously input into [Adam]’s revised player skill rating system in an effort to make the game as realistic as possible. Six button controller support has been added in as to allow quick switching to the goalie. The game’s entire color palette has been revised to appear more realistic, and even the Zamboni driver’s sprite got a facelift.

In order to play this ROM hack the user needs a PAL or NTSC version of NHL ’94 on Sega Genesis/Megadrive along with the .bps patch created by [Adam]. There are many ways in order to create a digital copy (dump) of the physical cartridge, including utilizing a retro game playing device called the Retron 5. Custom firmware for the Retron 5 device can be flashed via the SD card slot that allows the user to save a backup of the cartridge. The fact that the Retron 5 supports game cartridges from seven different consoles/handhelds can make it a more cost effective ROM dumping device than other dedicated pieces of hardware. With a clean dumped image of NHL ’94 users can apply the patch via an online tool like Rom Patcher JS. The patched ROM file can then be played on the user’s emulator of choice or real hardware.

Few games have enjoyed the sort of status that NHL ’94 has among hockey fans. Electronic Arts recognized this when they released their own official ROM hack of sorts in NHL ’94 Rewind on PS4 and Xbox One in 2020. Just this year, NHL ’94 was the subject of a documentary featuring new interview footage of the game’s original programmer Mark Lesser. Without spoiling the storyline it’s best summed up by Mark when he said, “There was a sort of magic going on in Maine at that time.”

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