NHL Rock the Rink is an arcade-style hockey game developed and published by Electronic Arts for the PlayStation.
The basic concept is a fast-paced game of three on three, with the player free to choose among premade arcade teams or seven-man versions of actual NHL teams. In the former instance, the player can play as one of the premade teams such as the Brigade, Demons or Psycho-delics, or a separate team can be created, albeit with the player able to create only the team name and to choose two of the available shift combinations. The latter instance has the player working through the ranks of the NHL squads, starting with the worst teams from the 1998-1999 season, and eventually facing the Stanley Cup champions from that year, the Dallas Stars.
Gameplay is very simplified compared to actual NHL gameplay, even when compared to the rule changes implemented following the strike that wiped out the 2004-2005 season. There are no penalties, no icing calls, and goalies are fair game when it comes to the in-game violence. The object of each game is to reach a predetermined number of goals (ranging from 3 to 20) before the opponent. There is no game clock, which means that a first-to-20 game could take a considerable amount of time to complete. Fortunately, there are other settings, such as catch-up AI and a ten-second shot clock, which help keep the game moving at a sufficient pace.
The home arenas for the arcade teams (with the exception of the created teams, who play in a nondescript warehouse) are designed with their respective teams in mind. For instance, the Brigade's home ice features a tank shooting wildly in the background, while the Cabbies appear to play in the old stage set for the TV show Taxi, while the Demons play in a red-and-black arena surrounded by fire, and so on. Most of the house announcers are made to go along with the motif, e.g. the Brigade's rink announcer sounds much like a stereotypical Lee Ermey-type drill sergeant, while the Demons have a sinister Bela Lugosi-like voice, the Cabbies a quintessential New York City dispatcher voice (after a visitor's goal, for instance, he'll shout "Dat's okay, we don't stop for red lights anyway!"), the Psycho-delics have a stereotypical stoner dude, and so forth. Some teams (the Mobsters and Demolition, for instance) have a generic rink announcer. The play-by-play consists of a barrage of one-liners, often making reference to older popular songs (i.e. "Much like love, that hit was exciting and new" or "Oh, how deep is your glove!"), and saving the most groan-inducing lines for goal-scoring instances ("And he puts the thingamabob into the whatchamacallit!").
The soundtrack consists of a number of songs by the Hanson Brothers, who, not to be confused for the teen-pop group with the short career, were best-known for their antics in the Paul Newman movie Slap Shot. The game also features the song "Celebrity Skin" by Hole in its opening sequence.
At 8.8 out of 10, it remains Jeff Gerstmann's highest rated hockey game ever.