Review by Psycho Penguin

Reviewed: 12/14/00 | Updated: 07/16/01

If Blades of Steel was good, then this is awesome!

I have never really been a huge fan of hockey, although I have always been a fan of sports in general. I have never been a huge fan of hockey, but to say I have never been a fan of hockey at all would be a huge blatant lie. The fact of the matter is, I like hockey. I used to be a hockey player myself, in fact. And while I do consider the game to be rather boring to watch on television, I am still a pretty big fan of it. My favorite team is the Pittsburgh Penguins, and they have been for many years. So, I have been a pretty big follower of the sport.

I remember my friend Charles and I went to a video store about six months ago and found a whole slew of NES games. One of our favorite pastimes was playing the old NES, so we figured we should get some old NES games. The store manager came up to us and said we could buy all those games for 50 bucks. Now, there must have been 100 games there, so we agreed and paid him the money. We went back to his house and discovered that not only did we get Blades of Steel, but also Ice Hockey, as well.

I did not really know what to expect from Ice Hockey. It did seem like a fun game on paper, but I did not know if I was really going to end up enjoying it. After all, I had not really enjoyed the other games in the early Nintendo sports series at all (as a matter of fact, Baseball is still one of my most hated games of all time). So, I did not know if I would find this game to be fun or not. After an hour of playing it, I discovered that I really enjoyed playing this game. It was a really fun game with a lot of depth. The times they were changing, as I did not really like any of the others sports games in the Nintendo series (besides Soccer), but I absolutely loved this game, even more than Blades of Steel, in fact.

There is not many story line aspects to this game, but what do you expect? It is a hockey game after all, and sports games usually do not feature any main story lines besides ''take your team to the championship!''. So, basically, the story line of this game is to take your team to the Stanley Cup finals and win it. It is simple enough, and I certainly did not expect anything more from the story line of the game.

The graphics in the game were fairly simple and rather cartoonish, but I still enjoyed them nevertheless. The character designs are some of the funniest I have ever seen in a video game, as they have either really big or really small heads and look rather funny. I really liked the character designs in the game, and liked how there were a variety of them. Of course, each team had the same design of players, but you could tell them apart by looking at the color of the uniform, each team had a different colored uniform of course. USA had blue, and Russia had red, etc.

I liked the overall design of the game more than I liked the overall design of Blades of Steel. Now, that is not to say that I loved the graphics in this game more than the graphics of Blades of Steel, because that is a lie and simply not the case. Instead, I liked how simple and effective the design of the game was. The ice was a simple shade of white and never really got that distracting, despite the fact that the puck sometimes got lost in all of the mayhem. I was really impressed by the graphics in this game, despite the fact that they were fairly simple, to say the absolute least, in my opinion.

The crowd looks fairly simple, as you may expect. After all, a lot of the other sports games released at the time features crowds that looked like stick figures or paper backdrops. So, I was not really expecting amazing crowd designs. Therefore, I was impressed by the crowd designs in the game. I expected there to be some slowdown or other graphical problems, but fortunately there was hardly any graphical problems featured in this game, at all. I was definitely amazed and very pleased by this fact, because slowdown sucks, especially in hockey games. I know this because I have played some hockey games before which featured slowdown (mumbles something about a certain Stanley Cup game for the Super Nintendo).

The music in the game was funny and set the tone for the overall feeling of the game fairly well. Despite the fact it may sound at first that the music will soon prove to be annoying as well as distracting, it never really became an issue. I especially liked how the music was varied, there was different music in each period, and every time you scored a goal the music would change to this celebratory beat. It was really well done. I liked the music on the title screen and options screens, as well, even though that music did prove to get to be kind of annoying after a while. It is no big deal though, because overall I was really impressed by the music in this game.

The sound effects in the game are simply awesome, and some of the best I have heard in a hockey game. There was no commentary or anything featured, unlike Blades of Steel, but I do not really care because this game is so old anyways I don’t think it was possible for Nintendo to include commentary in this game to begin with. So, I am not going to complain too much. Let me instead talk about the sound effects that were included in the game. The rest of the sound effects in the game are your basic hockey game fare, although they do sound pretty good. The sound of the referee blowing his whistle was pretty neat, although it did not sound terribly innovative (''Oh wow! A whistle, being blown by the referee! How cool is that?''), but overall I was impressed by the sound effects of the game.

The control in the game was fairly simple, as it was easy enough to pass and shoot the puck around. I especially like how simple it was to score goals. Unlike Blades of Steel, which moved at a lightning fast pace and forced you to shoot the puck by aiming it via an arrow, all you needed to do in Ice Hockey was shoot and hope it goes in. Now, this does not leave a lot of room open for player interaction, because you were actually helping yourself score a goal by using the aiming arrows to score goals in Blades of Steel. However, I did not particularly miss the aiming arrows, so it is really no big deal that they were not included, no matter how bad of a hit the player interaction takes.

The basic game play to this game is extremely fun. If you have played Blades of Steel, you know nothing about this game. Just kidding. There are some basic aspects to that game included in this game. For instance, this game still has the same side view. The game has a side view to it, which means that you see the players ahead of you, and they move left and right. It does not take much time to get used to at all, even if you are accustomed to the up and down perspective of some of the hockey games on the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo. (I know this because I was in that situation, as well.) The game was definitely fun to play, even with the side view. The side view may have made the game even more fun to play through, in fact.

You do not get to choose the same modes in this game, as you have exhibition mode and that is about it. I wish there was a season mode to this game but it is not that big of a deal. There are eight teams to choose from, and you can choose one team then one team to go against. The teams range from USA to China, so this is like an Olympics-type game. Of course there is little difference in the eight teams other than the colors of their uniforms, but that was the case in most early sports games. It would have been cool had there been differences between the teams, but if there were, there would be no reason to choose a bad team, I guess.

The game does not move as fast as Blades of Steel, of course, but it still has a pretty fast aspect to it. The feeling of the game is that it is pretty fun and fast to play through, and I definitely enjoyed it. There are not too many goals scored in the game, but there are enough to keep the pace of the game fresh and exciting. I really liked how there were no penalties unless you were fighting. Let me talk about the fighting since it was so disappointing. Basically two players just start beating each other up then they both go to the penalty box. Huh? I liked the camera view/style of the fighting in Blades of Steel better, but maybe it is just me.

The replay value of this game is solid, as I could not stop playing this game once I got it. My friend and I played the game that night for two hours straight, and we kept on challenging each other to rematches and stuff. I have always preferred the multi player aspects of hockey games more than the single player stuff, and I think this game has the best multi player sports action on the NES, barely beating out another one of my favorites, Tecmo Super Bowl. Yes, I really did think the game was that fun, and I am sure you will want to play this game just as much as I did once you find out how much fun the game really is.

This is not the most challenging hockey game ever, but it is somewhat of a challenge. Blades of Steel is definitely a more challenging game, however. Not that it really matters, of course, since I am getting sick and tired of comparing the two games anyway. The challenge level of this game is solid, and I was impressed by how challenging it was to score goals. Do not expect 12-11 shootouts unless you are playing two player. Because the computer AI plays smart defense, and the goaltending is pretty solid on the computer’s side. I was really impressed by the challenge level of this game, to say the absolute least.

Overall, I plain old love this game! I was not expecting too much out of this game, after all I had not really liked the other games in the early Nintendo sports series, so I did not know what to expect from this game, at all. However, after playing this game for a while I realized just how much fun it is. There is not much of a story line to the game, but what do you expect? It is a hockey game, after all! The graphics are solid, and I like how there was little slowdown or other graphical problems featured. The music and sound effects were pretty solid, as was the control. And I really felt the game was a lot of fun to play. You should definitely buy this game because it is simply one of the best!

How does it compare to Blades of Steel?
I really liked both of the games, but I think that Blades of Steel is narrowly beaten by this game. The reason for this is because I think this game is so much fun to play, and very addictive. Sure, Blades of Steel is too, but there is one thing that separates the two games apart: the two-player mode. Ice Hockey is one of the most fun games ever to be played with two players, and you can just imagine all the rematches and stuff you will want in the two-player mode! So, both games are great, but I think Ice Hockey is a little better in the end. Regardless, I loved both games and think they are both well worthy of a purchase, and I guarantee you will find a lot to like in both games, because they are both fantastic!

Good Points
-The graphics are solid, and I like how there was little slowdown or other graphical problems featured.
-The music and sound effects were pretty solid.
-I really liked the control in the game and how simple it was to do everything in the game.
-The two player mode of the game is one of the most addicting ever!
-The replay value of the game is simply outstanding.
-The challenge level of the game is perfect.

Not So Good Points
-There is not much of a story line to the game, but what do you expect? It is a hockey game, after all!
-The music and sound effects could have been a little better.
-I wish there was a nice variety of teams and a reason to choose a different team other than what country they represent (which is a pretty big reason to begin with, I am just saying, that’s all).
-A lot of people think Blades of Steel is better. I do not think so. It’s close but I think Ice Hockey comes out on top!

I Run Down the Ratings... DaLadiesMan Style!
Story Line – Not Available
Graphics - 8.7/10
Music - 8.4/10
Sound Effects - 8.1/10
Control - 9.7/10
Game Play - 9.8/10
Replay Value - Above Average (Mike Sanders)
Challenge - Above Average (Mike Sanders)
Is this game worth a purchase? - Definitely.
Overall - 9.7/10

The Last Line
I really enjoyed playing this game, as I feel it is one of the all time great video games in general, as well as being one of the premiere sports games out there. I was impressed with Blades of Steel, and I still enjoyed that game a lot, but I think that Ice Hockey overall is still a tad better. Regardless, they are both outstanding games, and I think they are both well worthy of a purchase, especially considering that you can get them at fairly decent prices nowadays. Just make sure to give this game its proper credit and go out and buy it, because I really enjoyed playing it despite some of its flaws, and think it is one of the greatest NES games ever!

And that's a Ladies Man guarantee!

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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