In the wake of the international success of Super Dodgeball, Technos Japan pooped out a bunch more Nekketsu High School brawling-sports hybrid games in short order. We got English localizations of the track and field one (Crash N' The Boyz
) and the soccer one (Nintendo World Cup
), but not the basketball
or hockey games. Reportedly, this game was actually slated to be localized (as another Crash game), and a few game magazines got prototype preview carts of it, but it was eventually scrapped for some reason.
The game here is three-on-three hockey, but don't expect any kind of fidelity to the actual professional sport. In fact, don't even expect a working "pass" button - the best it might do is a weak slow pass in the general direction of a teammate, but more often it just flubs the puck in a random direction.
Though it lacks things like one-timers and even the most rudimentary hockey passing and strategy, it makes up for it with violence. You're free to whack the hell out of anyone on the ice with your stick at any time, even the goalie. Some players also have super atttack moves, like a jumping tornado spin, and each team has a unique "super shot" which you have to hold still and charge up for a few seconds. The super shot usually goes right through a goalie no matter what they do, though there's a chance at stopping it if you pick the right block technique (high or low).
Like the previous Nekketsu games, up to four players can play simultaneously (two per side or four against the computer) using something like the Four Score adapter. If you're rolling solo, however, there's also a story mode that takes you through a series of about a dozen teams, giving you their uniforms (which boost stats and give you different attacks/shots) and the occasional new player when you beat them.
Obviously, like all the Nekketsu games, the emphasis here is on chaotic multiplayer fun. Other games in the series still had great single-player experiences, though, like River City Ransom and Super Dodgeball. Unfortunately, this one's story mode is next to worthless. It's the very definition of jaggy difficulty.
The first two teams you face are a cakewalk because the goalies are incorporeal for some reason and there are no penalties for crashing the crease, so you can literally just walk the puck right through them. They start swatting you most of the time when you get close as of the third team, but there's a lot of other cheesy ways to score, like they really have trouble defending close diagonal shots that come from below them.
Unfortunately, you pretty much are forced to use these cheesy techniques, due to the total lack of viable passing and the fact that your AI teammates play like idiots and are entirely too passive on the puck. Meanwhile, the opponent AI actually moves in tandem and sets up shots, and they get their own cheese like being able to break off a super shot instantly. So basically, it's cheese or be cheesed.
Things stay easy on the whole until the final series of three "super teams", where the programmers seem to have locked down just about all of the cheesy scoring techniques that worked to that point. Not only that, their players move ridiculously fast and easily snatch the puck away from you. Honestly, the only reliable way I found to beat these teams is to use the one uniform that makes you invincible when you're charging a super shot (which you get from the team right before the "super team" gauntlet starts) and just spam the hell out of that, otherwise they seem unbeatable.
I think the game deserves a positive rating as it's well-made and looks like it would be a blast for multiplayer, but the single-player experience is horribly unbalanced and gets old real fast. No seasons, league, franchise or anything of that nature, just the one linear story tournament that's too easy for 75% of the going then suddenly jumps to way too hard.