Having just finishing watching the Olympics a few weeks ago, and (unfortunately) watching Canada loose in hockey, I thought I would try replaying the old NES game Ice Hockey. This was a game my brother and I use to play a lot growing up. We never owned it, but traded games with friends who had it. Back then, I loved how you could customize your player size and have it effect actual gameplay. I have fond memories of it, so thought I would give it a try and see how it holds up today.
This game is obviously a hockey game. The game provides a few options including single player and multiplayer options. After you select your game mode, you select your team (ranging from numerous countries such as Canada, the United States, and Sweden). After this, you get to decide the composition of your team based on the size of each of the four players. Skinny guys are quick but can’t shoot and get destroyed by body checks, medium guys are average in all areas, and fat guys are slow but can take a hit and shoot the puck hard. I really liked this aspect of the game because it actually added some strategy and variety to the game, and made for some fun combinations.
The actual gameplay itself is simple. If you are on offence, the B button shoots, and the A button passes. If you are on defence, the B button changes players, and the A button checks the opposite teams players. The direction pad moves the player you have selected plus the goalie at all times. The controls were easy to pick up, but I was really disappointed with how the game actually played. It felt so much more difficult to control versus Blades of Steel, and I didn’t find myself having a fun time. Even though in both Blades of Steal and Ice Hockey, you control the goalie with the direction pad, it just didn’t feel right here. The net was so huge.
The graphics are clean and simple, but not as good as Blades of Steel. I did like how the graphical representations of characters informed performance, which makes it unique among hockey games on the NES. The music was also very simple and lacked a lot of the polish found in Blades of Steel including voice samples. The game has a few songs and continues to loop them over and over. The sound effects are bare-bone but complement the simple gameplay.
Overall, this is a slightly below average hockey game that while still playable, is not nearly a fun as Blades of Steel on the NES. Yes it has team customization, but the execution and control of the game just didn’t feel as fun as other hockey games I have played. The game is still very inexpensive, so you don’t have much loose to pick it up, but I personally think you would serve yourself better by grabbing a copy of Blades of Steel. I give this game my final score of 6/10
Final Score: 6/10