Review by KasketDarkfyre
"Simplicity is bliss..."
Ice Hockey. A fun winter time sport that is played with six players on each team facing off against each other and trying to slap a small disc around on the ice to score points. While the sport in real life doesn’t interest me very much, the Nintendo Entertainment System game of Ice Hockey did, and still does to this day! Facing off against the computer as one of several world teams, you take your players on the ice and try to out skate, out fight and out score the opponents so that you may move on to win the game. The game itself really isn’t set up with anything more in mind than just making a game for people to play when they are bored and don't have any ice to actually skate on. The game is simple in the way that is designed, with no extensive rosters and no famous players, no super trick shots and no incredible cinematics that would make you think that the game is complex. No, you have a simple game with the goal of being simple, fun and playable by all ages!
The game play pretty much works like a real hockey game, in which you have a certain amount of players on the ice and you try to score points whenever and where ever you can. You’ll have a goalie that can either help or hinder you, but really nothing that you need to worry about considering that the computer is extremely easy to beat once you know where the sweet spot on the ice is! In some situations, you’ll end up fighting against the computer in a brawl that will end up with either you or your opponent going to the penalty box and leaving the team at a one man disadvantage. This is generally where most people will find the game to be challenging, in which you’ll be two on three in a Power Play situation and you’ll have to have some pretty good defensive skills in order to keep yourself ahead! The game allows you to switch in between team members once you’ve passed the puck, so there is no worry of having no control over what happens in the game.
The two-player option really brings out the competitive nature of the game and of hockey itself. With the ability to pass the puck between your team members at a rather fast rate, you can confuse your friend and cause them to give up an easy goal and put you in the lead! What really comes in handy, is the fact that the periods can be set from the beginning, in which all you have to do is score a goal, have the timer set on a low time and then skate around without having to do much else but pass the puck. Some of the rules that you would find in the game are featured here in Ice Hockey, with the most prominent being the Icing rule, in which you hit the puck past the mid point line from your side of the rink and then collect it. It’s a stupid rule and doesn’t make much sense to me, but it does add a little bit of realism to the game!
The control set up is easy enough to do and easy enough to learn that anyone of any skill level can learn how to play the game. Most of the game revolves around passing the puck to your teammates and then shooting it with a directional pad press and the action button. NES games that offer pick up and go control like this are common to find and a blast to play once you’ve gotten a good feel for how the game handles and what it is that you have to do! With no special shots or advanced moves that you have to know and learn, you’ll find that the simplicity of playing the game is what makes it so much fun.
The visuals that the game has to offer are pretty limited and match the norm for NES games of this age. With only different colors that separate the different teams and the small black puck that is passed between the different players, you’ll find that the game doesn’t have much in terms of special effects! The only real thing that will stick out in anyone’s mind is the victory wiggle that a team will do when they’ve scored a goal and when they skate the ice after winning the game. If you’re looking for something more spectacular then that, then you really are looking at the wrong game and definitely on the wrong system! Simplicity is best for the Nintendo, and this is a good example of it.
The audio of the game is very light, leaving you more with a faint tune to listen to while you’re playing on the ice. The game focuses more on the sound effects that include skates cutting through the ice and the mechanical cheer of the crowd when you score a goal! Other than that, you really don’t have much here that you can listen to, with no announcer, no voices and really no modern music. You may want to find the latest copy of Sports Jams on CD and press play if you’re looking for some music that would fit a sporting game, cause you won’t find it here either!
Ice Hockey is one of those early NES games that kept millions of gamers busy at all points of the year. With the simple control and rather easy computer opponents, you’ll have to remember that simplicity was best with all early NES games! The visuals and the audio are nowhere near the quality of what we have today, and in fact are in a different category altogether. However, the game is fun to play and can be rather fun to play with a friend just to get some competitive game play out of your old NES. Collectors would do well to remember that this was one of the first games and at the time, it was cutting edge in all of its glory. While not as pretty as Blades of Steel, Ice Hockey will forever have a place in my heart for being a game that I could pick up and play without having to learn too much about it!
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 12/02/01, Updated 12/02/01
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