All in all, Powerplay '96 is just another average hockey game.
Every year another batch of hockey games attempts to steal the hockey throne from EA Sports. NHL Powerplay '96 is a competent hockey title, but it lacks the punch that EA's hockey games have on the Genesis... Powerplay '96 feels like a cold, soulless game, and players will derive little of the satisfaction that comes from a well-executed play or a bone-crushing check into the boards.
Graphically, Powerplay is fine but not spectacular. The polygon players look a little jagged, especially during the after-goal close-ups. The camera scrolls erratically, which could cause a touch of nausea after a few games. The sound is standard hockey fare, though the "thwack" of the puck hitting the glass is included. Music is used only during the set-up screens.
The game is very license-friendly. Not only are real NHL teams with real NHL players available, but several Olympic teams also make an appearance. Of course, having all of the these teams doesn't mean a thing if it's not possible to control them. While Powerplay '96 includes several moves and actions not found in other hockey games, the control simply isn't precise enough for crisp play. So, while it's possible to perform many different types of checks and shots, gamers will need to spend some serious time getting used to the way the hockey players skate. Until then, be prepared to miss checks, blow past the puck, and skate backwards for a long, long time. The artificial intelligence is listed as one of the game's selling points, but it isn't smart enough to learn from its mistakes - it fell into the same traps over and over again, making the computer a fairly beatable opponent.
All in all, Powerplay '96 is just another average hockey game. It gets the job done, and masks its shortcomings with a lot of bells and whistles. But players who want serious hockey action should either look elsewhere in the 32-bit market or hook up their Genesis and break out one of EA's many hockey games.