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NHL Hitz 2003 – Xbox

NHL Hitz 2003 – Xbox

HITZ1Platform: Xbox

Developer: Black Box Games

Publisher: Midway

Release Date: September 14th, 2002 (NA)

Genre: Sports, Hockey

Nerd Rating: 10 out of 10

As an admitted, closet sports fan, I will admit that I love a good sports game experience from time to time. I generally appreciate management areas more than I do the actual gameplay of a sports game, though nice gameplay can definitely help. Great sports gameplay assists in enriching the experience, usually making the sport more believable to the player of the game. Believability clearly was not the goal of our subject for today, howevever, as NHL Hitz 2003 really thrives off of its NBA Jam style of fun. Developed by Skate designers, Black Box, this game came as a sequel to the well received NHL HIiz 2002, and retains all of the positive features its predecessor has, and adds many more.

From the beginning, the player is received with a badass soundtrack, a beautiful looking menu, and features that will have them entertained on end. The first instinct, of course, is to play a regular match first, and if you do that, you will notice a rich roster of NHL players from the time period, crisp graphics, and a whole hell of a lot of fun. Thriving off of a 3 on 3 format for fast paced action, you’ll find yourself checking, punching, and firing ridiculous shots for the entirety of the match, and laughing manicly the whole time.


Mr. Dragonhead here just knocked that hockey player on his ass!

The game reads as hockey, but there’s something very different about it, with this version of the game representing more of a Street sports type of experience, or one resembling that of NFL Blitz or NBA Jam. (You can even go ON FIRE like you can in NBA Jam!) It really is unbelievable how fun simply playing the game is, and no other sports game ever quite captured me like the gameplay here. The hits (rightfully) feel brutal, sharp, and fun to perform. The fast paced gameplay makes for a beautiful multiplayer experience, and the entire look of the game has aged amazingly well given its 2002 release date. Even if the game was just this exhibition mode and nothing else, it would still get a positive score from me!  But alas, Black Box knew how to make a richer experience and thus blessed us with a ton of features.

Ever wanted to be a hockey player or make a hockey team based off your friends or something else? This game gives you the perfect opportunity to do that with its Franchise mode. The mode that impressed me the most, you as the player can create a team of unique athletes designed by you to compete in a franchise dynasty where your team evolves and eventually gets good enough to play actual NHL teams. There are goals you must achieve, games to win, and plenty of fun to be had in basically leveling up your team and destroying the minor league hockey teams. As you progress, you’ll be awarded more players to your team to customize and add, and you will have an insane amount of fun playing this mode.

The customization options themselves are also impressively endless, many of them humorous. Would you like someone with a giant clown head on your team? How about a guy with a giant shark mask? How about a zombie? A cow? Good news for you! These are all options in addition to the more ordinary customization options. You can edit the players’ playing styles, edit what the announcers call them when they take a shot or get passed to, and even customize your team’s logo and jerseys from an insane amount of options. It is unbelievable how ahead of its time this game was, as no other sports game then, and even most of the time now has ever inspired this rich and deep amount of an experience that this game has. Best of all, you can take these teams out of franchise mode and play them in exhibition mode to destroy your friends as well. How cool is that?

About to make my created character, Douchebag McClownnuts

About to make my created character, Douchebag McClownnuts

The game resembles the 2k hockey titles in one respect, and thats in the surprising addition of a standard sports game season mode. And…I was actually impressed with this as well. Feeling surprisingly more complete and rich than the Season style mode in NHL 2K3, players will have fun controlling a team, and leading them to seasons of victory, taking part in all the usual festivities along the way. Trading, free agency, drafting, all these things are addressed in the season mode and can actually convince you that you are playing one of the typical, ordinary sports game, but with much more fun gameplay and personality.

You will enjoy the season mode if you have enjoyed any others in other hockey titles, if not much more. Other than these modes, there is also a tournament mode that can be fun when you have people over, a Hockey School mode that serves as a great tutorial for players who aren’t sure how to play, and even a mini games mode. The mini games are this assortment of random hockey related games such as hitting out windows by shooting a puck, or even something like playing keep away with the puck. These modes give the player even more to do, and I highly anticipate you spending hours on these mini games alone. They were a blast, and added towards the game’s strong, casual personality. All of these different game modes should keep the player on the ice for hours! Careful that you don’t get hypothermia, guy, because this game is as cool as ice! BWAHAHAHAHAA! Get it?

Hey guys, wanna go play some hockey at the DISCO THEMED HOCKEY RINK?

Hey guys, wanna go play some hockey at the DISCO THEMED HOCKEY RINK?

From the “CRASH BAM BOOM!” of Tim Kitzrow, to the wonderful fast paced gameplay, everything about this title feels right. All the features are incredibly melded together, feeling satisfying with seemingly not a pickle out of place. Hours and hours of fun can be had here, and a sports lover and gamer like myself can only wish for more experiences like the one I had with this game. With Rob Zombie and Drowning Pool droning on in the background, this game stick checks you with a perfect ten out of ten. This is literally the first ten that I have ever given a game, and realistically, it makes sense. The game is a paragon of its kind, and stands out more than any sports game I have ever played, blending elements for gamers and sports fans alike! Wonderful job, Black Box! We miss you guys!

Written by JMSutherland

J.M. is a traditionalistic writer with a love of video games and storytelling. Born and bred in the heart of Southern Arizona, J.M. grew up on stories around campfires and old cowboy tales. He was also brought up on PlayStation and Nintendo and has high regard for video games as not only gameplay driven experiences, but as the most effective storytelling medium to boot. A study in all things gaming, J.M. considers himself a “video game historian,” knowing everything there is to know about the industry and the history of said industry as well.

When he’s not writing reviews and gaming, J.M. enjoys comics, classic movies, pro wrestling, and generally being a cynical, critical mind. He is also a published poet and lover of fiction writing, so you may find him crafting novels, short stories, and poetry as well.

If any readers have any questions for J.M. please direct them at:


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