- Hockey games have been popular since the early days of gaming, with the first hockey video game released in 1972.
- These games offer realistic experiences, unique gameplay modes, and a range of features like creating and managing your own team.
- The top PC hockey games include NHL 09, Slapshot: Rebound, Super Blood Hockey, Backyard Hockey, Bush Hockey League, and Eastside Hockey Manager.
- EA has the rights to produce official NHL games, but there are great indie options for PC hockey games.
Hockey is one of the most popular sports in the world, and it also translates well into video game form. Since the early days of gaming, hockey has been a mainstay. In fact, the first hockey video game came out on the Magnavox Odyssey in 1972. Thanks to its simplicity, anyone can pick up a hockey game and quickly learn how to play.
Hockey games have remained popular over the years, but there are relatively few options on PC. EA has the rights to produce official NHL games; however, they have not released a PC version in many years. Fortunately, there are some great titles from a range of indie developers.
Let’s look at the six best PC hockey games you can play today!
|#1||NHL 09||A league-approved game that uses official rules and actual players in the game|
|#2||Slapshot: Rebound||Features true-to-life physics that makes the game challenging yet realistic|
|#3||Super Blood Hockey||A pixelated masterpiece that features several game modes|
|#4||Backyard Hockey||A great game for kids to learn the basics of hockey|
|#5||Bush Hockey||Delivers a retro experience while adding some unique twists, like brawls during matches|
|#6||Eastside Hockey Manager||You get to take the controls and run your own hockey team as you see fit.|
#1: NHL 09
- Compatible with Windows Vista, Windows XP
- Builds on the title that won seven Sports Game of the Year awards
- Brings Be A Pro to the ice so you can step on the ice through a dynamic camera angle as you play your way through an NHL career
- Full dynasty modes for several European countries
Despite its age, our favorite Hockey game for PC is NHL 09 thanks to its authenticity and high-quality simulation.
EA is the king of sports games, and its hockey ones are no exception. Unfortunately, they have not released a new hockey game on PC in over a decade, but NHL 09 does hold up really well. Otherwise, you can consider purchasing the current version for the PlayStation or Xbox.
NHL 09 takes the top spot because it offers a realistic experience with a wide range of gameplay modes. You can play with friends or manage your team. There is even an option to create your own player who you can train and watch rise through the ranks to become a pro. NHL 09 is not available digitally from EA, so you will have to purchase a disc version, which is surprisingly expensive.
|One of the few officially licensed hockey games||Parts of the game do feel outdated.|
|You can create and train your own hockey star.||You may have trouble playing it on modern computers.|
#2: Slapshot: Rebound
Slapshot: Rebound offers a unique spin by using realistic physics to create one of the most challenging hockey games.
Hockey is a difficult sport, and it is still pretty difficult to play it on a computer. Most developers use tricks, such as sticky pucks, to make the game easier. However, the team at Offshoot Games made one of the most fun yet difficult sports games ever. When you first look at Slapshot: Rebound, it looks like a simple sports game you would find on the Nintendo Wii.
You can even customize your player and choose different rinks to play on. But within a few minutes of playing, you quickly discover just how realistic the game is. The game also features a great multiplayer mode where you can play with people from around the world. Slapshot: Rebound is still in development, but you can get early access in the Steam Store.
|Excellent physics, which is rarely found in sports games||Realistic physics makes it very difficult to play|
|Has a great online multiplayer mode||A remake of the original Slapshot game|
#3: Super Blood Hockey
- Paint the ice with the blood of your friends in 4-player local multiplayer
- Enjoy the retro beats of an original soundtrack by chiptunist Shawn Daley
- Take on the world in a global tournament, where failure results in execution
- Varied challenges and scenarios, including Turbo Mode and 12 vs. 12 Mega Rumble
- Franchise Mode: Create, recruit, and manage your own custom team of inmates in a futuristic world of dystopic blood sports.
Super Blood Hockey delivers the best arcade hockey experience on the PC by combining crazy action with a vintage flair.
At first glance, the game looks retro, but it uses modern mechanics. The pixelated art style is reminiscent of the SNES era, and many indie developers have adopted it. Despite the basic look, the game has several modes: Exhibitionist, Challenge, and Franchise.
Super Blood Hockey‘s title is very spot-on — it includes some unique brawls and players can even die on the rink. As for the actual gameplay, the controls work very well, and even people who aren’t fans of hockey will have a blast. But the best part is Franchise Mode where you can manage your own team.
|A unique art style rarely found in sports games||Rated M due to violence|
|Several different modes to keep players entertained||Takes a little time to master|
#4: Backyard Hockey
The best hockey game for kids is Backyard Hockey from the well-known edutainment developer, Humongous Entertainment.
The game came out back in 2000 but the graphics still look pretty good. What makes this a great choice is the easy-to-understand interface. All of the available teammates have different backstories and abilities, and you can also choose a team and a rink to play at. Another factor that makes this a great game for kids is the cutscenes and commentary, which are all age-appropriate.
Plus, the game explains the basic rules of hockey, which is good for those unfamiliar with the sport. Backyard Hockey also features a number of different modes, including practice, multiplayer, and season play. The game is unavailable digitally, so you must purchase the disc version. However, there are reports of compatibility issues with some modern hardware.
|A great game for kids||It may be difficult to find.|
|Plenty of unique characters from the Backyard Sports series||You might experience compatibility issues.|
#5: Bush Hockey League
The best way to relive the video game hockey experience from the early 2000s is with Bush Hockey League.
Despite there being a number of retro hockey games, Bush League manages to stand out. The graphics look really good, and the styling is reminiscent of the PlayStation 2 era. Fortunately, the gameplay and controls are very modern. Bush Hockey is an arcade-style game, but there is still a lot of realism.
With that in mind, playing is easy even if you are new to hockey games. But things can get a little strange as fights break out and you must battle the other players. Bush Hockey has a couple of modes, including local multiplayer and story mode.
|The game closely resembles hockey games from two decades ago.||Fighting and combat distract from the hockey match.|
|Has some of the best controls in a modern hockey game||Some users report experience lagging, bugs, and glitches.|
#6: Eastside Hockey Manager
- Compatible with Mac, Windows XP, Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows Me
- Database of 200 teams and 15,000+ players and staff members
- In-depth hockey-management game with current NHL teams and rosters
- Play as the owner, president, and manager of a hockey franchise
- Detailed and realistic in-game engine that simulates a realistic hockey match
- Trade players, sign free agents, and draft promising youngsters
If you’ve ever dreamed of running your own hockey team, then Eastside Hockey Manager is just for you.
This game differs from all of the others on our list because it focuses on team management rather than actually playing the game of hockey. Eastside Hockey Manager is part of a long-running series, but there hasn’t been a new release in many years. However, the gameplay still holds up well, with many ways to customize your experience.
Instead of controlling players, you oversee a team’s operations and training, plus serve as a coach during games. The one downside is that the game uses actual player rosters, which are outdated, with no way to upload current rosters. Nonetheless, Eastside Hockey Manager is still a lot of fun if you don’t want a fast-paced hockey experience.
|Very in-depth gameplay that lets players control every aspect of hockey management||Not a conventional hockey game|
|Unique system to oversee and control hockey matches||It is starting to show its age.|
There haven’t been many hockey games from big-name developers in recent years. Fortunately, indie developers jumped in and began filling this niche. We now have a slate of great hockey games on PC, despite a lack of support from major companies. Hopefully, these games prove hockey is popular on PC, so developers will pay more attention to the genre in the future.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©iStock.com/gorodenkoff.