When I picked this one up I thought it was going to be some forgotten sequel to Nintendo's Ice Hockey on the NES ... turns out it's by Sunsoft instead, but it does have the same general theme of being arcadey, high-scoring and fast paced rather than realistic. This is actually more like what I thought Tecmo Super Hockey was going to be. Games can only have periods from one to three minutes in length, energetic boppy music plays while you are on the ice, and goalies are generally super soft.

Actually, you're forced to control your goalie manually. Another similarity with Ice Hockey and one that I don't like, because it seems like stops on shots are determined more by some unseen dice roll than actual positioning. Usually the computer sucks too, but at higher difficulties it can suddenly just choose to stop everything you throw at it.

The game perspective is a quasi-3D view, with the screen shifting for each zone you are in. If you are at the bottom, from your own (defensive) zone you can see all the way down the ice to the goalie, then as you move zones the goalie at the far end progressively becomes larger. This puts whoever is playing at the bottom of the screen at a distinct disadvantage with the manual goaltending, because when defending a rush, you can't even see where the goalie is until the attackers are already in your zone and ready to shoot.

The physics are also pretty weird ... it seems like they tried to replicate skating physics by just making movements jerky. There's no real way to loop or glide, once you get going in a direction you basically have to come to a hard stop and then build your momentum again in another direction.

Controls are sometimes equally odd. There's no checking or poke checking - players just sort of run into each other, I guess there's another invisible dice roll, and one or another winds up with the puck on their stick. Seems totally random. You also don't switch players manually as you do in the NHL Hockey games, the computer switches you to the player closest to the puck automatically. Penalties also seem to be totally random and determined by dice roll, but they almost don't matter since there's almost no realism or strategy, the computer basically fails to play defense and almost all scoring is done on a solo rush anyway. Fighting is also just a total button mash fest, whoever can mash the face punch button the fastest wins.

No NHL licenses here - the game uses the ol' fallback of world teams instead, but it does allow you to play an Olympic round robin for medals, or set up your own tourneys.

Though the game has fairly bad physics, it does get some points for being one of the few four-player hockey games available from the 16-bit generation. If you can deal with the peculiarities in the physics and control, the almost total lack of realism and manual goaltending, it's actually an OK game for multiple players. Definitely not recommended for a solo player though.

Videos :

* Gameplay Video