Nintendo Ice Hockey
An extremely belated review by Kris Hartrum

Out in the sticks, in the quiet suburbs of Tokyo (among the mikan and
plums), you (the searcher) can find it all-- a magical smorgasbord of vintage treasures of which you cannot imagine. Sometimes you find it and sometimes you don’t, but you power through the nonsense to reach the dynamic world of video game antiquing: a winding path of forgotten mystery and classicism from 20th century electronics!

Recently, a dear friend, having purchased an old Famicom Disk System (a floppy disk using peripheral to the original FAMICOM) with a large assortment of
games, had been incessantly reminding me make the trek from the big, bad
city in order to test his newly discovered cove of re-writable games on
floppy disk. Plenty of wicked-good titles including the usual standbys:
Mario Bros, Nintendo Soccer, Pro Wrestling, Zelda, Double Dragon, and Doki Doki Panic (Original FDS game that later became Mario Bros 2, or in Japan; Mario Bros. USA).

Searching among them, I was immediately struck by the metaphorical diamond that was and remains the perfect illustration of simplicity and playability:

in 1988, Nintendo ICE HOCKEY is one of the original mutliplayer aces
from the Famicom Disk System. It was then later released onto the
western NES, and then again on Nintendo Wii.

2 people, each using four hockey players, go head to head for 3 periods
until one is crowned master of the ice. Teams include countries, which
(as far as I can tell) are exactly the same. ICE HOCKEY’S greatest
attribute lies in it’s approachability. You control your players and
your goalie at the same time. It can get confusing when your playing
serious defense, but it’s part of the fun. I suggest keeping a close eye
on your goal tender when the opposing side has pressure on your net. If
you focus too heavily on defense past center ice, then they’re sure to

Each player has the ability to customize their team, with a choice of a fat guy, a skinny guy and a normal guy. Traditional video game physics apply: Fat guy is powerful and slow, the skinny guy is fast and weak, and the normal guy’s abilities lie somewhere in between.

1988 was the same year another hockey game was released: BLADES OF STEEL
(port form the 1987 arcade). Now some people try and boast BOS’s
slightly more complex system as superior to Nintendo’s ICE HOCKEY. Do
not listen. They whisper secret lies to you. ICE HOCKEY is far more
addictive and is the gospel truth, forever and ever.

In truth, ICE HOCKEY is easily one of the top VS multi-player games for the Nintendo Entertainment System.
Come to think of it, I can’t think of another sports game, outside of
PUNCH-OUT, that remains so damn playable after 23 years.

The music will boil your blood hot as your glide through the cool, digital ice.
Your skinny guy, juggling the puck with ease, passes over to your
Normal, who then fakes and shoots it to the much feared heavy-hitter.
His stick raises, holding it there for an artificial eternity... SMACK!
The puck is smashed into a blur, the black thing breaking through the
forces of opposition and into the pixel-ed net! Sweetness! Glory!



Kris uses team Japan on the Famicom Disk System and the U.S.A on the NES. His favorite mix is the default of two normals, a skinny and a fat guy.


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