Is NHL Rock The Rink for PS1 a Good Game?

Though NHL Rock the Rink for PlayStation is not exactly good, the game is quite entertaining in short spurts.

As a long-time player of sports video games, Circa 98 contends that while Rock the Rink falls short in several areas, it’s a worthwhile addition to your collection of retro games.

Why NHL Rock the Rink is a Worth Playing

  • The cartoonish fighting is absurd yet entertaining
  • Provides hockey fans with NFL Blitz-like physicality
  • Multiplayer games foster nostalgia and replayability

Condensed Review of NHL Rock the Rink

Don’t let anyone mislead you; NHL Rock the Rink is a game ripe with flaws and missteps, including subpar graphics.

Yet, despite its shortcomings, the game’s unique genre, over-the-top humor, and replayable multiplayer mode make it a decent bargain bin addition to your retro PlayStation collection.

Circa 98 Rating: 71/100

NHL Rock the Rink Overview (PlayStation)

Developed by EA Canada, NHL Rock the Rink amplifies and embellishes hockey’s reputation for physical confrontations. Released on March 22, 2000, this 3-on-3 arcade-style hockey game aims to inject the adrenaline of a real-life hockey game.

The game emphasizes fighting, body checks, and rapid-pace gameplay, contrasting EA’s traditional, simulation-style “NHL” game series. While the concept tracks on paper, the execution falls short in various areas. 


The game is designed around the concept of 3-on-3 hockey contests (plus a goalie) featuring unlockable NHL teams and players. The sales pitch of the game is its highly physical gameplay, much like Midway’s NFL Blitz.

Think about stick slashes, right-hand punches, and fierce body checks as some of the animations you’ll experience while playing Rock the Rink. Remember that there are no penalties, creating a WWF-style hardcore rules environment.

Where the gameplay falls short is its incoherence, with the game’s exaggerated speed preventing basic hockey fundamentals like tracking the puck. That might be forgivable if the fights were appealing enough to serve as a standalone game feature.

Unfortunately, the game’s fighting system is minimal, with players only having basic punches and dodges at their disposal. As you can imagine, the fighting element gets old quickly and fails to compensate for the lack of coherent hockey.

With that in mind, you might conclude that purchasing this game is a waste of your time and money. Still, it’s worth noting that the game possesses a few redeemable qualities that make it worth further examination.

In multiplayer mode, you’ll enjoy most of your value with this game, as the contests can become entertaining once you get used to the pace. The multiplayer dynamic adds unpredictability not present in CPU games. 

Furthermore, the game’s commentary is somewhat hilarious (up to a point). You might find yourself laughing at some of the announcer’s lines, but it becomes repetitive afterward. 

Gameplay Summary


  • The physicality concept contrasts standard hockey simulations
  • Earn superior equipment as you play
  • Fun multiplayer mode that feels nostalgic


  • The game’s pace is excessive and fosters incoherence
  • The fighting is basic and limited
  • The commentary, though funny, also becomes repetitive


The graphics are subpar, even for this era of PlayStation games. Textures, details, and nuanced characters are all non-existent in Rock the Rink. Sometimes the players even blur together as an unrecognizable blob.

The hockey rinks are equally as unimpressive, creating a backdrop of poor graphics for a foreground of occasional blobs and blurs. On a positive note, the goalies are graphically superior to other players and showcase solid animations.

Graphics Summary


  • Goalies look pretty good and showcase solid animations


  • Non-goalies lack texture and realistic detail
  • Generally inferior to other PlayStation games of the era
  • Occasional blurs and blobs for multiple players

Multiplayer Mode

Retro gamers who enjoy NHL Rock the Rink are most likely to do so when playing Multiplayer. Playing against another human adds variance and unpredictability, causing the game to start feeling nostalgic and replayable.

After competing in several multiplayer contests, gamers may begin to overlook the mundane nature of CPU games. Like many sports games of its era, the multiplayer gives NHL Rock the Rink some appeal.

Gamers should also be aware that real NHL players and teams are unlockable. Before unlocking them, you are limited to playing with fake teams and players.

Multiplayer Summary


  • Multiplayer games are more unpredictable


  • The game obviously predates online multiplayer
  • NHL teams and players are locked initially

Final Verdict

NHL Rock the Rink is unlikely to be confused for a great sports game. However, the game’s unique take on professional hockey and multiplayer replayability makes it worth consideration for retro sports gamers.

While the graphics are objectively subpar, even for its era, the NHL and NHLPA licensing, hard-hitting play style, and nostalgic gameplay feel may be worth the eight bucks it’ll cost you on eBay.

Leave a Comment