Review by skcin7

Reviewed: 06/06/05

Ice Hockey: Proving Simplicity is Superior to Complexity.

In modern day, when a game developer is developing a hockey game, they focus on graphics, realism, season mode, instant replay option, create-a-team, create-a-player, and many other things that make their games so complex. They'll give their game a fancy name, such as "Quarterback Club" instead of "Football", or "Mike Piazza Baseball" instead of "Baseball". Well the case is completely different for this game I'm reviewing. The only special feature that "Ice Hockey" has is a 2 Player Game mode. Everything about Ice Hockey is kept to simplicity. Most people would consider this a bad thing, but try playing this game and you will quickly notice that the simplicity of this game is what makes it gold.

At A Glance: This game was released in America in mid 1988 by Nintendo. It was released as part of an "NES Sports" series. Other NES Sports titles included Tennis, Volleyball, Soccer, Baseball, & Football. All of the NES sports games were simply named the sport in which the game simulates. All of the NES Sports games were kept to simplicity, and extra unnecessary features were never included into an NES Sports game. It was straight up fun. The success of each NES Sports game is determined by weather or not the gameplay is good, not weather or not it contains a "Create-A-Player" mode or was endorsed by some superstar athlete. This is the way gaming is supposed to be.

Game Plot: There is not a game plot. Like I already stated, Nintendo kept their NES Sports games to simplicity, and a plot would ruin the simplicity of the game. Besides, who needs a plot for a Hockey game?

Gameplay: The gameplay is simply phenomenal. I can play this game for hours by myself, and even longer if I'm playing against a friend. Each game is close and full of suspense. When playing against a friend, I often find myself jumping up and down when I score, and screaming profanities when a goal is scored against me. I'll never get tired of playing this game against a friend. However, the fun of 1 Player Game mode is limited. I'll usually only play one or two games against a computer each time I pop this game into my NES.

When you start out each game, you pick which team you want to be. There are six teams: USA, Sweden, Poland, Canada, Russia, and the Czech Republic. All of the teams are exactly the same, just have different colored uniforms. You can also alter the speed of the game (1, 2, 3, 4, or 5), and the time of each Period (7, 10, or 15 minutes). After choosing your team, speed, and period length, you can change one other very important thing: The weight of each of your players. There are only 4 players on your team (5 including the goalie), and you can change the weight of all of them to Fat, Medium, or Skinny. Fat guys are very slow, but can shoot very well. Skinny guys are very fast, but get hit easily and cannot shoot well, while Medium guys are in between. Usually I prefer one Fat guy, two Medium guys, and a Skinny guy, but that's just me.

As for gameplay when you actually get onto the ice rink, the gameplay has been done very well, but still kept to extreme simplicity. The A and B buttons pass and shoot respectfully, the D pad controls your guy, and you control the goalie at all times with the D Pad. Start pauses the game. The gameplay has been kept very simple, but very addicting. You will find that you'll want to come back for more, even after playing for many hours.

Graphics: Compared to other games from 1988, the graphics are not good. They are not horrible, but they surely aren't anything to hail over. Thankfully, everything moves smooth and flawlessly, yet blocky as per NES standards. But then again, if poor graphics are a problem to you, then stop playing NES games. The gameplay and replay value is what really matters.

Sound: The sound is the only thing about this game that I do not like. The sound is relatively boring. Thankfully, the sound gives the game a "happy" feel, but the poorly made music bothers me. As for sound effects, there is a beep for the referee's whistle, and a poorly done cheering sound to represent a crowd's reaction after a goal. The sound effects haven't been done well, but they aren't horrible. Thankfully the fantastic gameplay and huge replay value has redeemed this factor.

Replay Value: This is one of the simplest games I've ever played in my life. Everything is plain and simple, yet for some reason, I continue to play this game over and over again for hours and hours years after I first discovered this gem of a game. 1 Player Game mode is fun, but gets old quickly, but I can sit with a friend and play 2-Player Game mode for hours and hours. I've known about this game since 1999, and I've been playing it frequently ever since.

Graphics: 5
Gameplay: 10
Sound: 3
Story: None
Fun: 11
Replay Value: Extremely High
Overall: 9/10

Final Thought: The reason why I'm giving this game a score of 9 instead of 10 is because 1-Player Game mode can get old sometimes, and partially because I am not completely fond of the sound. I honestly don't know how anybody cannot appreciate a good game of Ice Hockey if they're playing against a friend. Games nowadays are designed to be complex and realistic, with up to date rosters, but the secret ingredient to a successful Hockey game is simplicity, which is something that has been long forgotten. This was the last great hockey game and the flow of time is slowly leaving it behind and forgotten. This was the last great hockey game, so let's not ever forget it.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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