Breakaway 99 snagged the NHL and NHLPA licenses, so even the bench monkeys are present and accounted for. All 27 NHL teams are on the ice, including the expansion Nashville Predators and eight international squads. The Pak is stuffed to the brim with options and the usual statistical information, including full control over team management and a create-a -player feature. Acclaim lets you sit in the plush, over-stuffed leather chair of an NHL team owner to make all of the executive decisions that go on behind the scenes. One savvy trade can mean the difference between a winning season and the type of year that makes season ticket holders go into convulsions.
You make your own coaching decisions, setting up offensive and defensive strategies that complement the strengths and weaknesses of your team. As your team scores goals and wins games, you earn points that can be traded for improved coaching, player development options, and even injury therapies. Since you control the players too, you hold your entire fate precariously in your hands. If you eat ice, there's no one to blame but yourself.
Iguana must have logged serious hours in the luxury boxes of the NHL, because it has made an admirable effort to include every possible detail related to the game of hockey. Steve Yzerman actually wrote the team scouting reports, so teams play according to their real-world game style. The height and weight of each player is accurately represented and these statistics are used to determine the force of each player's checking ability. The bigger the player, the bigger the bruise.
The graphics in Breakaway 99 are about the same as last year's offering, so while you shouldn't expect jaw-dropping visuals, the players are crisp and the action is easy to see. The modes include Exhibition, Season, Playoffs, International Playoffs and a puck-slapping Shoot Out competition.
Whether you enjoy realistic hockey simulations or fast-paced arcade style game play, Breakaway 99 delivers. With the push of a button you can switch between Arcade Mode and Sim Mode, or make minor adjustments to end up somewhere in between. The Sim Mode employs realistic physics, so it will take your players a few steps to gain enough momentum to travel quickly. In Arcade Mode, you instantly reach top speed the moment you begin to move, and there is an unlimited supply of Turbo power.
Play control is adequate, but the Pak's shining feature is the precise symbol-based passing system. When the Z button is squeezed, your teammates are each assigned a different C Button. Simply press the correct C Button to send the puck in the proper direction. This is a major improvement over the standard "closest-player-gets-the-puck" system, and allows you to easily make passes in any direction, including backwards.
Sports fans appreciate detail, and it's usually the little things that win players over. Breakaway 99 pays attention to these details, allowing players to knock helmets off of weaker competitors and to shock the crowd with a glass-shattering check. When tempers flare the game turns into a tournament fighter, complete with a close-up camera angle and energy bars.
NHL Breakaway 99 is not radically different than Breakaway 98, but it's a solid choice for hockey fans who don't own the previous version.
Developer: Iguana Ent.
Publisher: Acclaim Sports
Release Date: 11/27/1998
Nintendo 64 exclusive
Full NHL, NHLPA licenses.
Lots of options settings
Scouting reports from Steve Yzerman
One to four players
Rumble Pak compatible (not included)