I’ve been meaning to review this game for quite some time, but for some reason I keep putting it off. Maybe it’s because I don’t really know what to say about it. Maybe it’s because I don’t want people to laugh at me for saying that it’s one of the greatest of all time hockey video games. Maybe it’s because I’ve been busy playing all the fancy-schmancy current-gen titles that I own. Or maybe it’s just that I’m sexually attracted to its cover art and I’m afraid of letting that affect my judgment of the game. In any case, I’m gonna try to review Ice Hockey now, so bear with me.
I’m sure you noticed that I called Ice Hockey “one of the greatest of all time hockey video games.” For the record, the title of “the greatest of all time hockey game” belongs to NHL ’94 for the Super Nintendo, but that’s not entirely relevant to this review. What’s relevant now is why this game is so awesome…
There are five players on each team (including the goalie), and the teams range from “United States” and “Canada” all the way to “Soviet Union.” Maybe the game’s datedness adds to its charm. Could that be? Do you think? I’m not really sure.
What I do know is, though, that a big part of the game’s charm is in how you get to put together your own teams. I’m not talking fleshing out a player all the way to his left eyebrow here; this, too, is extremely basic.
For each of the four players on your team, you get to choose a weight class: fat, normal, or skinny. Fat people are slow, but can crush you with little effort. Normal people are boring, and have no outstanding skills. Skinny people are speedy, but get their asses kicked rather easily. Me, I prefer a team made up of four fat people. I don’t know why. Maybe it has to do with my sexual infatuation with this game. Hah!!
The controls, just like everything else in this game, are simple. When you have the puck, one button passes and one button shoots. When you lack the puck, one button changes players and the other button hits. That’s all you really need, isn’t it? What use do you have for all those new-fangled buttons on your giant Xbox controller, anyway? Huh? WHAT DO YOU DO WITH ALL THE CONSARNED BUTTONS??!
The graphics for Ice Hockey are absolutely divine in their simplicity, as are the sounds effects and music. I swear, I could listen to the zamboni theme all day without pause; and that’s not something I can say for too many modern-day game songs. Except for maybe the song that plays during the Final Fantasy X-2 commercial.
In writing this review, I think that I’ve discovered that which makes this game so gosh-darn charming: its simplicity. Most of your sports game today have so many buttons to use and so many choices to make that it’s overwhelming; it’s nice to be able to just pick up a controller and play a game of virtual hockey without having to memorize 500 different button combinations to merely make it past the title screen.
It’s nice to have choices, but in a world of ultimately customizable hockey games, it’s refreshing to have a game like Ice Hockey for the NES in your collection. It isn’t the best hockey game out there, but it’s probably more fun than most of those games ending in ’04. Check it out if you can.