Review date – 2017
Rarely is there a game that does what it says on the tin quite like Super Blood Hockey, and I couldn’t be more thankful for that. Ice Hockey has always been my favourite sport to watch – the speed and accuracy has always been a draw for me, and the occasional bout of fisticuffs never hurt either. Super Blood Hockey has taken everything that makes ice hockey great and packaged it up for us in one instantly enjoyable, crunchy retro royal rumble.
Take control of any one of 7 national teams including Russia, Canada, Finland, Sweden, USA, Germany and North Korea as you battle it out on the ice across 3 different game modes. Exhibition and Tournament mode are available for your more traditional 5v5 game type with the regular rules and time limits, with a Challenge mode available for those that want to try a few scenarios with an extra twist on the rules.
I’m reminded more than a little of a classic football game I used to play as a kid called Fever Pitch. Not so concerned with the abiding of rules; there was always the opportunity to fight a little dirtier in order to achieve victory. Similarly, Super Blood Hockey allows for you to not only start beating the crap out of the opposing team in order to give you the upper hand, but you can also give the ref a good kicking without retribution as well. The only form of penalty that you may get is for hitting the opposing team too much, causing a team brawl to kick off in which you need to ensure you’re the last man standing. Oddly though, you’re not penalised for this, and it’s in fact the losing team of the brawl that’s without a player for a minute or so as they lay on the ground hemorrhaging – which is pucking brilliant! Yes, I used the puck gag twice, because when else will I get the chance, really?
Your default team is made up of 4 players and a goalie. You can choose any combination of Playmakers, Enforcers and Snipers for your team – each has their own style of play with strengths and weaknesses, and it’s up to you how you approach your game, but at the end of the day they can all hit the puck and beat each other up. It would however have been nice to have a few more distinct options available here in order to really craft a team that you felt you’d designed yourself.
What I noted early on during my play time is that mostly any direct attack on the goal will fail. Even on Easy mode (which is the game’s default and by no means easy), I was 99% of the time unable to fire a shot directly into goal no matter what angle or distance I approached from, which was a little disappointing as it would have been nice to have some variation in attack method. It became obvious that the key was to outwit the goalie rather than try to out-skill him as he was terrifically fast. Fortunately, so is yours. Quick firing to your team mates is key, causing a chain reaction of passes that can out match the goalie’s response time, with a final well placed shot amidst the chaos reaching the back of the net. It’s simple, but it works, and is actually a reasonably fair imitation of the sport for such a rudimentary presentation – as soon as you get a grasp of how the puck needs to move around the rink in order to get past the goalie, you’ll start scoring some incredibly satisfying and lightning fast goals. You’ll also laugh uncontrollably the first time your fully powered shot misses its mark and smashes your friendly player in the face causing him to crumple on the floor like an old tin can.
One recommendation I’d make to anyone that plays this is to unlock the manual goalie option as soon as possible, which is done by winning a challenge map that uses manual goalies. Forget the super speedy AI that you started with in goal. Now when the puck starts getting close to your net, you’ll have to use your controller’s thumb stick to not only control your currently active skater, but also move your goalie up and down the net line as well. It adds an entirely new challenge to the game, and I found it way more satisfying to play.
The graphics are wonderfully retro and the game has a kickass chip tune track to accompany it too. Also, after having a play around in the options, I soon realised I could up the blood graphics to 500%, or millilitres as Loren Lemcke, the Finnish Dev that produced Super Blood Hockey has tastefully labelled it. I recommend you do this immediately. I can think of no reason not to.
“It’s got that unmistakable good old day feel about it; taking me back to a time of sleepovers, 16-bit consoles, miniature sausage rolls and too much Pepsi.”
Play on your own or play with 3 friends in 4 player local. I only had the opportunity to play by myself, but It’s clear that this is a game that would benefit most by being played at the shank of a Friday evening with your best mates. It’s got that unmistakable good old day feel about it; taking me back to a time of sleepovers, 16-bit consoles, miniature sausage rolls and too much Pepsi.
Super Blood Hockey is a superb homage to the golden age of gaming and overstated violence, and I can’t wait to turn it into a drinking game.