Review by Funk
Ahhh, the game of Ice Hockey. Known around the world by billions of people. The trademark of the sport are the checks, the slapshots, and quite simply, the fights. Long long ago, when the gaming business was just a little toddler, the new NES boasting gaming like none had seen before. With new adventurous games like Mario Bros. and Zelda gracing the stand, it was time for Nintendo to try and hit it big with sport games. At this time, the names for the games weren't exactly 'original', seeing as the older sport games had names like 'Baseball' and 'Ice Hockey', but that took nothing away from the strange gameplay involved. Nintendo's current mark for excellence at this time was a simple, 'Press the A Button' to advance, and other things like that. Ice Hockey is no different, it involves a few players on the ice at a time, and you trying to score. None of the players were exactly stars, and none were exactly dead weights. The skill was spread evenly, and the game is nice for it's years.
-A few bleeps from the crowd, and the puck drops-
When you first start at the beginning of the game, you're forced to navigate through one menu. Oh, the horror and simplicity of the 1980's, save me lord! After you get through the dreaded maze, you get to pick which country you feel like having your team come from. It ranges from USA to France, and many others. Each country has a color, true to it's flag. After that, you can pick somewhere around five players to play for you. This is where a strange, unique form of the game comes in. You see, each player has his own special statistic/talent, but they also come with one hilarious downside. For one example, you can pick a fat player. He can knock people around like no other, but when it comes to a foot race, he's better rolling. And you can pick up a small player, they're going to be fast, but if they get touched, they're going to fly down the ice. Is that all? No. All the players have their unique stats except for two people - the one guy that has no specific weakness or strength, and the goalie - The guy that has no specific weakness is simple, and will pretty much be a good idea to even out the balance on your team, as he won't bring your team down, and he most likely won't save your team in a dire situation. Then there's the goalie, absolutely nothing special about him at all, although he can make or break the entire game. The goalies in the game aren't mobile at all, because they can only stay inside the strange square-shaped crease provided for them. After you pick your country/team, and laugh your way through the small horde of characters provided, you're well on your way to playing some Ice Hockey.
When you start the game, you'll notice you can pick which player you want to attempt to get the puck after being dropped. I guess this can give people somewhat of a sense of freedom, but nothing out of the ordinary. When a team wins the puck drop, you'll notice the simplicity of the play of the game, and you actually know how to win right off the bat. There are only two buttons to choose from, which doesn't exactly make the game tough to shoot and pass, as you don't have much of a choice. When you start playing, you can easily flow into the game, seeing as you're not going to get confused by the complexity of the gameplay. When you press the pass button, your player is going to fling the puck at your closest teammate, and when you shoot the puck, the puck will be fired at the opposing net, regardless of your relationship to it; whether you're behind your own net, behind the opposing net, and everything else in between, the puck is going towards the opponent's net. Also, each different character has is own method of mobility, as I said earlier, the fat character isn't going to blast down the ice with a rocket shoved up his ass, unlike the small man. That doesn't take anything away from the big guy, he can gently knock the small man down whenever he pleases. After you blast your way through the opposing team, you're faced with the monotonous task of firing the puck past the goalie. Easy? Not really. The goalie may not be very mobile and quick, but he's quite a large object in your way to glory. You can get it past him with a few twitches of the D-Pad though, no problem whatsoever. When you score, your team does somewhat of a celebration as if they managed to win the local Rib-eating championship, but when the ref closes in on center ice, they quickly settle down, awaiting the puck to be dropped. At the end of each period, each team quietly shuffles off the ice, to the approval/disapproval of the crowd. After each team is safely tucked away in the locker rooms, the Zambonies pay a little visit to the ice, and then play resumes.
-Those splotches? Yeah, those are the players-
Well, you can't exactly be excited about the graphics of more than a decade old NES game, but you can't exactly be disappointed, either. The title screen is simple, with the logo Ice Hockey spread across the screen, and with the trademark Nintendo® symbol somewhere near it. The title screen doesn't make the game any more inviting, and it doesn't scare the person to the point of throwing the cartridge. When it comes time to pick your country, you're given a list of the flags, with the country's name above their respective flag. Not exactly the name of the country, but an abbreviation, so to speak. The colors of the country's flags are distinguishable from eachother, so you won't end up picking Germany when you want Sweden, or any other confusions. After all this, you're faced with the task of picking your players. Each player is easily different from the former, and you won't pick the wrong player, either. The fat player is going to be fat and somewhat tall, and the skinny player is going to be short and, well, skinny. And the normal, average player is going to be somewhat tall, and will have no physical disadvantage to him whatsoever. When you actually begin to play, the rink will be strikingly similar to the rinks of today, so you won't be blown away by any differences. When the puck drops, the ref will shuffle away, in his different striped shirt, and will begin to watch the game. Each country, as I said earlier, has very different colors, and you won't get mixed up or anything of that matter. The players on the ice look like they were in the player selection screen, so you're not getting much of a different look from the earlier portion of the game. The puck is a simple black, somewhat large dot on the ice, and you'll easily see it whistling through the air at your goalie's face, so no arguments whatsoever with the way the puck's appearance was handled. When you get near the end of the rink, where the boards curl around and are sent in the other direction, you're liable to catch a glimpse of the crowd. Like earlier sports games (and some sport games today, mind you), the crowd is a mixture of 2D colors, all with a moving motion similar to the wave. The goalies of the game are easily seen apart from the other players. They can be seen waving the huge, beastly goalie stick they are equipped with, and you can see the Jason-esque mask spread across their face. When it comes to making a save, they're only going to use their stick - As if they were tought otherwise - So there aren't going to be any other motions of the goalie besides him flinging the puck in the other direction, passing, or him making his trademark stick save. No complaints on the graphics, but not exactly any bright spots, either.
-What was that you hear? A cheer.-
Now we move onto the sound of this old sport classic. There's a friendly little tune in the menu and player picking selections of the game, which can be somewhat misleading, I guess. When your players begin their journey towards the ice, there will be quite a few whistles blown, and the ref with slowly dance his way to his area of where he drops the puck. Another whistle will sound, the pull will drop, and the game will start. Then the music of the game starts to pick up, into somewhat of an urgent, rapid pace, like you're in something similar to a race. This most certainly won't distract you, but it won't make the atmosphere around you exactly friendly. If you take your huge character and force him to plow his way through any character, there will be a grunt, and you'll see a person flying. Whether the grunt came from the fat man, or the person flying, is yet to be known. Don't be mislead, the smaller man can attempt to thrust his body into that of the others, but with little or no success. When the puck comes up the your stick, and you choose what you want to do, your player will reel up, and let the puck fly. There will be a sound noting that you successfully hit the puck, and you'll see it whistle down the ice. When it hits the boards, there will be somewhat of a scraping sound, and so on. Amidst all this tension and confusion, the crowd will have their continuous yelling going, how they do that, I have no clue whatsoever. When you actually manage to get the puck into the opposing net, a whistle will sound, and a triumphant tune will play to your pleasure. Your players will let out the little kids inside of them for a moment, and then settle down to play again. When you score, the audience will manage to pick up their already loud voice, and taunt the opposing team even more. At the end of each period, and obnoxious bell will ring, and each player will leave the ice, waiting for their return to the game. During this time, the Zambonies will fly out, and start cleaning the ice. During this time, a fun tune will sound, and give the atmosphere somewhat of a relaxing sense, and will make the game even better for you. So, overall, the sound isn't overly annoying, or a symphony orchestra, so you'll probably have no problem leaving the volume up.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 10/27/02, Updated 02/08/03
Got Your Own Opinion?
You can submit your own review for this game using our Review Submission Form.