NFL 97 is a hockey sim and the annual title in EA Sport's NHL franchise for the 1996/97 season. It was the first game in the series to be released on the fifth generation of consoles, specifically the Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation. These versions of the game (along with the PC version) featured 3D graphics and motion-captured models, also a first for the series.
Other features include:
- Play By Play commentary is provided by Vancouver Canuck's announcer Jim Hughson.
- National teams added: USA, Canada, Russia and Europe.
- For the first time, the game includes NHL Skills Competition and players participate in the Hardest Shot, 2 on 0 Goalie Drills, Accuracy Shooting, Fastest Skater and other well known competitions.
- Each team has one player that had a "special skill" (15 different skills), such examples would by Buffalo Sabre Rob Ray being able to "body check anyone while having control of the puck" and Joe Sakic (and Mark Messier) being able to pull off a "wrong footed wrist shot", Mike Modano's "deke", Doug Gilmour's / Sergei Fedorov "drop pass", Jeremy Roenick's "backhand spin", Peter Forsberg's "deke", Mario Lemiuex's "behind the back shot" and Teemu Selanne's "quick stop shot".
- Games start with either the American or Canadian National Anthem, depending on which arena is being played in.
- All Time User Stats are saved to battery (up to 8 different users) to keep track of personal records and "all time records" and can have 4 concurrent Franchise Seasons.
- Over 650 different NHL Players featured.
- All the rosters and teams from the 1996-97 NHL Season.
- "Goalie Mask View" provides a detailed look at 30 different NHL Goalie mask designs.
- Up to eight people can play at once (depending on system, not available on Sega Genesis/SNES versions).
- Players display their name and number on the enhanced versions on PC, Saturn and PlayStation (even the created players).
- Online matching making available using phone modem with local players.
Penalties in NHL 97
- Charging (2 min MINOR) : Applying a body check after taking more then two deliberate strides toward the opponent.
- Cross Check (2 min MINOR): Hitting an opponent with both hands on the stick and no part of the stick on the ice.
- Fighting (5 min MAJOR): A fight is initiated the moment the gloves are dropped.
- High Sticking (2 min MINOR): Carrying the stick above shoulder level when skating towards an opponent.
- Holding (2 min MINOR): Using the hands to grab either an opponent or his stick.
- Interference (2 min MINOR): Any contact with the opponent's goalie while he is in possession of the puck and within the crease.
- Roughing (2 min MINOR): A particularly ruthless Charging infraction.
- Slashing (2 min MINOR): Using the stick to hit, or attempt to hit, an opposing player.
- Tripping (2 min MINOR): Toppling the opponent by means of either the stick, knee, foot, arm, hand, or elbow.
John Vanbiesbrock, Goaltender of the Florida Pantthers
System Requirements for PC Release
- Minimum CPU Type: Pentium
- Minimum CPU Speed: 75 MHz
- Minimum RAM Required: 8 MB
- Minimum Hard Disk Space: 25 MB
- Minimum OS Version 95.0
- Graphics Type: SVGA
- Graphics Resolution: Multiple Resolutions
- Color Depth: 256 Colors
- First NHL game from EA Sports to only feature one athlete on the cover, every cover since has only had one cover athlete.