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This document was last updated March, 18, 2018

Getting Started

This guide is meant to help people that are new to this site or our community.  I just really got involved a couple years ago, and there was so much information in so many different places, it was overwhelming.  Yes, it was mostly all here on the forums, or on another sister website, but finding clear, fresh info was very difficult.  I aim to change that, with this guide, and other guides to come in this "Latest Info" section.  I plan on keeping it "fresh" as things change and people tell me what they need to know, or want me to expand on

I have organized it by headings.  If a heading doesn't apply, just jump to the next one.  You do not need to read this entire, lengthy, article from start to finish.  

If you just want to quickly see what events are coming up, both live and online, check out "Upcoming Events".

Who We Are?
We are guys like you!  We all have one thing in common: a love of NHL'94!  That is why we are here, and what is important.  And we want you to be part of our community.  That said, there are many facets to the community.  Some people just want to share stories or get information on an ancient game that they love.  Cool!  That is why I came, originally.  Some people play locally with a friend or two, or God forbid, against the CPU.  And they are fine with that.  We are fine with that, too!  Other folks want to play in live events, which are happening with increased frequency these days.  Many come here to play online -- yes, you can do that! -- against others that share their love of the game.  (I think we have the best players in the world playing online here, doing things I did not know were possible before I joined.  I myself am a middle-of-the pack player, and there are many like me here, too.) Some may want play customized ROMS, with the latest NHL players, or with little hacks and modifications ("mods") that fix or enhance the original ROM.  (If you don't know what a "ROM" is, it gets explained a little further down.)  Maybe they *only* want to mod the game, and not play or hardly play at all? Ok, cool!  Some guys are Genesis ("GENs") dudes only, or SNES only, and some people here have done what seems impossible to me, and are competitive on both systems!  Welcome!  Welcome to everyone!

(I say "guys" and "dudes", but really it is "people". There are a few females here as well.)  

Bottom line is, whatever your interest is in NHL'94, this is the place to be.  We are the mecca of this world of NHL'94, and this forum is the heart of it all.  There are other relevant websites, but the forum on NHL94.com is the *most* relevant.  Look around.  Ask questions.  And please stay awhile. :)

And please say hello in the "The Official 'I'm New/Introduction' Thread" thread!

Genesis vs SNES
This has been a hot debate since the 90s.  Which console is better?  Which plays NHL'94 better?  Which looks better?  Which has sold more, or has a bigger following?  Most people prefer one over the other, and some weirdoes even like both!  But this community is for -- you guessed it! -- everyone!

At this moment, it is safe to say that there is more online activity on the Genesis side of things.  There are more online leagues, and more forum posts, and more modifactions ("mods") and hacks related to Genesis ("GENs") ROMs.  But!  When it comes to live tournaments, the SNES is represented equally well; maybe better?  And who knows what is going on out in the real world?  Enough guys come out for live tournaments that are masters on SNES that indicates there is a huge offline community out there.  Maybe offline SNES is played even more these days than GENs?  Plus, when it comes to playing this game on your home computer -- yes it can be done!  -- the SNES software is rock solid, eating the  GENs equivalent for breakfast and spitting it out.

Whether you are a GENs guy, or an SNES, we are happy you found this site. :)

Playing the ROMs
This applies to both playing online, and playing on your own computer.  Originally, the ROM was the cartridge that you plugged into your system, be it Genesis or SNES.  And if plugging in, "old school" style is what you want to do, that is fine.  BUT!  If you only play on a real console, know that you are missing out on a whole universe of opportunity.  

You see, you can use software on your computer, called an "emulator", that is the software equivalent of a real console.  There are different emulators, of different quality, for both GENs and SNES.  The beauty is, if you use an emulator, not only can you play on your regular, modern computer, which is super-convenient, but you can play all of the amazing ROMs that exist, including modified ones made by members of this community!  And you can even play online against other people, which is not possible with the original consoles.  Obviously the ROMs used by emulators are not cartridges, but rather files that represent the code that made the cartridges run.  So an emulator is just a piece of software (like Microsoft Word) and a ROM is a single data file (like any document used by Microsoft Word, previously written, that you load into Word).  They go together to make this all possible.

There are soooo many ROMs here. As mentioned earlier, the Mod community is much busier on the GENs side.  But there are some for SNES, too.  You can play with modern NHL rosters, you can play with fixes and enhancements to the original ROM, and you can even play a ball hockey ROM.  Two of my favorite ROMs are a 2v2 Rom (located in Master List link below), that eliminates 1 forward and both d-men, for non-stop action, and the just released "NHL 2018", which has 32 teams.  This last mod has for some time been the holy grail of ROM hacks, and it just happened, after 25 years!  The imagination and genius of our Mod community knows no bounds.  And there are many people that are only interested in modding these ROMs and hardly playing them, and that is fine and cool.  (I think so, anyway.)

Click here to see the "Master List of GENS '94 ROMS".


Computer Requirements
While you may want to buy a controller to play this game (see below), you definitely do not need a new computer.  In fact, many think older computers running Window 7 or even XP work best.  However, you can use a Mac or Linux, too.  Though the methods are different for GENs versus SNES.  We have a whole subforum devoted to Mac Users:

Check out: "Mac Users".

Anyway, the bottom line is the hardware requirements to run the programs needed are low. Any computer that is less than 10 years old should work fine.  And your operating system is not a deal breaker, although running Windows gives more options.

If you are going to play online, there are some recommendations regarding your internet connection in the "Playing Online" section below. (Spoiler alert: Your internet connection is probably fine!)


Gamepads and Controllers
Here is an interesting thing: some of the most talented players to ever play online use the keyboard!  And if you are brand new, and don't already have a compatible controller, you may have to try your hand with a keyboard, at least initially.  But in my opinion, the learning curve is very steep.  Many of us much prefer to get a proper controller.  You can buy one that is USB compatible, and plug it right into your computer, for as cheap as $15 from Amazon.  Or you can use an original controller, with a USB adapter.  

Fact is, many experts here prefer to use the original controllers that came with the game, or the small 6-button official controller.  This is possible because these controllers were such high quality, they are still going strong.  When these nearly indestructible controllers finally do wear down, it is usually the rubber molding inside the controller, between the buttons and the sensors, that goes first.  Luckily you can buy little replacer pads cheaply online, too.  With the replacer pads, these original controllers could last forever!  Finally, another great thing about using original equipment is if you play in live tournaments, you will be good-to-go.  Not the case with keyboarders or people using Logitech or other 3rd party controllers.

Click here for a "$15 iBuffalo controller" from Amazon.
Click here to go to "www.retrousb.com and see available adapters".
Click here for a gamepad comparison:  "6-button Controller Round-up".
Click here to see "GENs Contollers Used Here" from a small sampling of players.
Click here for 3 button GENs replacer pads: https://www.mortoffgames.com/controller-repair-parts215/sega-genesis-3-button-controller-conductive-pad-set
Click here for 6 button GENs replacer pads: https://www.mortoffgames.com/controller-repair-parts215/sega-genesis-6-button-controller-conductive-pad-set


Playing Online
If you want to see what leagues are currently running, jump to the "Upcoming Events" thread. There is usually something going on, or about to go on, online and in person.

I am not going to lie, playing this game online is not like playing Xbox online.  It is not plug-and-play.  But!  It is very doable.  I am confident I could show my 75 year old mom how to do it, though I am also confident she is not interested presently.  But here is the thing: Once you figure out any snags and get up and running, you will be playing NHL'94 against other people over the internet in 2018!!!! -- how cool is that?  And whether you want to just play the odd pickup game here and there, or you want to play in a competitive league, we are here to help you.  We *want* to help you!  There are two links below that have step-by-step instructions on getting up and running, so look at this section of this article as just an overview.

To communicate, we use a chat app called Discord.  This applies to both GENs and SNES.  It has a lot of bells and whistles, but for our purposes we just have a bunch of "channels" and use it to chat, like MSN Messenger or any other old school chat application.  Channels are just categories, like "classic-genesis", "classic-snes", or "nhl", among others.  You start Discord, choose a channel and start chatting.

Click here to see "How to Get Up and Running with Discord".
Click here to see the "Online Ettiquette Guide".

Besides Discord, things are a little different playing GENs online versus SNES.  The emulators are different and the ROMs are not compatible.  As mentioned above, the SNES emulator is less buggy and in general more solid that the GENs one.  And also requires less steps to get up and running.  

Similar to not needing modern hardware to play this game, you also do not need cutting edge internet connections.  In a nuthshell, anything faster than dialup should work.  Once that low threshold is met, the most important things are: Ping rate, latency and proximity.  Being in close proximity to others helps, and you will feel it if someone from Europe plays someone in the USA -- lag is inevitable -- but almost any internet package will give you similar results, as long as you are not on dialup.  A wired connection definitely helps, but some people play on wifi and seem to get by ok.  (But if you have the option, plug that sucker in! Check out Best Connections for Online Play for the nitty gritty.)  When you are playing, ideally your wife won't be steaming Netflix, and you will have the connection to yourself.  If you are plugged in, turning wifi off, even though you are plugged in,  can also help for a laggy connection.

Click here to "Get up and Running Online with GENs and SNES". (link to external site)


Playing in Leagues and nhl94online.com
When I first got involved, this caused a lot of confusion for me.  First of all, I was blown away that I could even play online against other people, but I didn't know where to begin.  This is also an area where the GENs presence outshines the SNES.  There are more online leagues, and more online participants on the GENs side of things.  But for both systems, there are online leagues, and of course, pickup games outside of the leagues.

The mainstay of online play is the "Classic" league.  There is usually a "Fall Classic" (starting in October or November) and a "Spring Classic" (starting in February or March).  Anyone of any level can join.  But to participate, you have to have had successfully played a game or two online, to make sure you have things sorted out.

To join "Classic", you have to register at nhl94online.com.  Some leagues you just say "I am in" on the forum, but for Classic, there is this extra step.  The site -- nhl94online.com -- is sort of a sister site to nhl94.com, but it serves a totally different purpose.  For most leagues, you use nhl94online.com to see your schedule, to upload the results of your games, and to keep track of stats.  When I first saw this, I was completely amazed.  It keeps all the running stats of you as a player, as well as each team you play, as well as the players on your team, and where you are in the standings for each league!  It is really cool to take Chicago in "Fall Classic" say, and to track how Jeremy Roenick is doing as your season progresses.  (Hint: If JR has less than 3 PPG you better change something up! :P) It is a phenomenal site that makes playing that much more fun, especially if you are a stats guy.

Anyway, the "Classic" league has been around from the beginning of this forum, and just uses the unmodified ROM.  Pretty simple.  But historically there have been other leagues, and in fact anyone who wants to start a league can do so, although to get hosted on nhl94online.com it usually has to be mid-sized or bigger, and run by a well known forum member.

Online Play Tips (for GENs)
When I first played online, I was surprised how good people were.  For GENs there are two tiers: A and B (and sometimes C).  The A tier is the highest skill.  It is very rare for someone who just joins up to already be at the A level.  Usually you have to work your way up, playing against better guys.

Some guys go quite a few games before they notch their first win.  My first season I joined Fall Classic and was en route to 3 or 4 wins in 40 games.  Frustrated, I started a thread asking people how to improve.  It got some great responses.  Check out "Tip for Genesis Rookies".

Two big things that separate the As and the Bs are: pass shots and countering the Weight Bug.  If you don't know about the Weight Bug, do a search on the forum and get ready to have an "Aha!" moment.  Countering the Weight Bug amounts to "CB Checking", which is a real skill usually reserved for the pros in A.  The pass shots are just that, shooting -- and often scoring! -- through a pass instead of a shot.  25 years ago I had the occasional accidental pass goal, and that is not what I mean.  There are many ways to score intentionally from pass shooting, and most A guys can do so.

Click here for an  "Explanation of the Weight Bug and CB Checking".
Click here to see the "Idea Behind CB Checking Revealed for the First Time".


Still to come...

This guide is a living, growing document.  I have a lot of ideas of what else to write.  If you want to give me feedback, that may help the shape of what is to come.

On my radar is: The many small utility programs out there (like ROM extractor); short history of the game (starting with first version, NHL '92 or whatever it was); some comments on other related ROMs ('92, '93, '95); some links to sister sites (Raph's guide, nhl94rocks); small write-up about Mikey's documentary; more commentary of different ROMs and leagues; explanation of weight bug and CB checking and advances in game play; perhaps a "Best Of" for amazing articles/threads here...

Most of all, I just see this as  a Guide, that *points* to the meatier articles.  I don't want to re-invent the wheel, and I know there is great stuff out there.  I just want to shine a light on it.



Edited by aqualizard
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oh, word.  I was wondering why I couldn't see the ROMs list.  good stuff.  I would suggest a revision that trims excess words at some point.  thanks for taking this on.

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15 minutes ago, tru said:

oh, word.  I was wondering why I couldn't see the ROMs list.  good stuff.  I would suggest a revision that trims excess words at some point.  thanks for taking this on.

Ok I fixed some links... I don't want to drive people crazy... taking a break for now...

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  • aqualizard pinned, unpinned, pinned, featured and unfeatured this topic
13 hours ago, scamy89 said:

Thanks! This was a great write-up! I feel caught up.

Thanks, man!  That is the aim.

If you have any feedback or suggestions, I am open to hearing them (though recognize cuz you are new, you might not yet know what you would want to know -- Doh!)

Edited by aqualizard
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I think one of the things that this community under-utilizes, is the vast number of previously hacked roms. I'd love to see a Classic style league run using an old Blitz rom, where players draft the teams. 

If you are looking for unique roms - check out clockwise NHL91 rom, a real masterpiece. http://www.nhl91.com/thegame/download.asp

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