Review by NonSubwayJared

"You can't not like this game. You just can't. If I ever catch you not liking it, I'll run you over with a Zamboni."

Okay, so I was at a youth retreat, eating breakfast with a bunch of other guys, when the subject of NES games came up. And what do you know, everyone but me (who has never even heard of it) was raving about this one. Fast forward a couple of months or so, to when I play it for the first time. I love it. So now I'm writing a review for it while simultaneously hoping that my friend never asks for his copy back. Bwahaha, I'm so evil.

One of the reasons I like it so much is that it honestly doesn't feel like a sports game as much as it does an arcade game. I mean, sure, it's hockey. But, being an old-school NES title, it lacks all that stuff like player names and stats, individualized teams (well, okay, when you play the CPU each opposing country has its own setup), and, well, any sense of hockey realism. For Pete's sake, you can adjust the physical body types of your players before a match! Licensed NHL titles don't let you slap 80 pounds on a player (or suck out the same amount, for that matter) before the game. Yes, you have a total of five players on your team, including one goalie, and you can separately alter the sizes of the four non-goalie players to suit your style. Want a really slow but powerful team? Go ahead! Want a really weak team that is fast enough to leave your opponents in the dust (or ice shavings, as it were)? Be my guest! Want a team of evil lizardmen with fiery breath and +6 hockey sticks? Grea-- whoops, sorry, you're on your own there.

Anyways, each game consists of three periods (and a possible tie-breaking period, and possible goalie-free overtime if the tie-breaking period doesn't break the tie). You can control one player (who blinks, how realistic is that?) and your goalie with the D-pad while the CPU controls your other players, and if you don't have possession of the puck you can hit B to change control to the player nearest it. And you can attack the guy with possession of the puck by maneuvering your blinky one over and hitting the A button repeatedly. Occasionally a fight breaks out in which everyone from both teams piles on, and then the player who hits the A button less times before the referree breaks it up gets a player sent to the box for two "minutes" or until their opponents score on them, whichever comes first. And that's basically it.

The graphics are NES graphics, and they look like it. Not much to say here, other than they get their job, which is to distinguish different things apart, done. The puck is not difficult to see and the four types of players (skinny, average, fat, and goalie) all look different.

Sound effects are simple. How many do you need in a hockey game? There are hitting-various-things sounds, falling-over sounds, crowd-cheering sounds, and referree-whistle sounds. Music is bouncy, light-hearted NES stuff. If someone were to play this music at a hockey game today, it would make no sense. (Of course, the best and most un-hockey-like tune in the game is when the three (count 'em, 3!) Zambonis come onto the field after the second period.)

The options for this game are few, unless you count the secret ones (there's one that lets you remove the goalies, and another that removes the effects of friction on the puck so it careens all over the place). You can choose one of six teams to play as, all of whom differ only in the palletes used to color them. You can choose the speed of the players. You can choose to set the length of each period to either 7, 10, or 15 "minutes" (bear in mind that a "second" of game time is about equal to 0.3 seconds in real time). The game really focuses on the makeup of your team, on the "just plain fun" factor, and on the replay value, which it has in huge amounts (you can, after all, duke it out with a friend, using lots of different team and rule setups).

Plus it is one of the few NES games, if not the only one, to feature Zambonis. As in, plural of Zamboni. Read my lips: Zambonis. Zam. Bo. Nis. ZAMBONIS. They are Zambonis, worship them with reverence, for they have chosen to bless the lowly 8-bit NES with their chilling, all-powerful presence.

...Wow, did I really just type that? Man.

Anyways, Ice Hockey is a fantastic game and a valuable addition to any NES collection. Now if they would only release it in that Classic NES series...


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 09/20/04


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