Feels like hockey from 30 years ago in more ways than you would think.
As both a Canadian and a hockey fan, I’ve gotten pretty used to the lack of options when it comes to playing my favorite sport in video game form. I owned Blades of Steel and Ice Hockey on the NES, but since then EA has had a monopoly on the best hockey experience. With no hope in sight for a Switch hockey game from the big companies, it’s up to the indie scene to fill the void. Super Blood Hockey is the first new hockey experience for the Nintendo portable, but unfortunately it feels way too similar to an NES title available in the Nintendo Switch Online service to recommend.
You can’t really describe Super Blood Hockey without referencing its obvious inspiration, Ice Hockey on the NES. Both have three players and a goalie. Players come in small, medium, and large statures. The ice surface, vulcanized rubber, and all of the skating, passing, and shooting physics are identical to Nintendo’s 30-year-old title. Some additional mechanics such as one-timers and improved shooting do freshen up the experience somewhat, but the overall gameplay still feels like it was lifted from Ice Hockey. The AI can easily be manipulated, and it didn’t take very long to figure out how to score automatic goals. With a lead, I could channel my inner Guy Boucher and hang out in my own zone without a sniff of forechecking from the opposing team.
What certainly is not found in the source material is the pure carnage and utter chaos of a no-holds-barred slugfest that results in massive amounts of blood covering the ice. It feels like a scene straight out of Slapshot. Goons skate around the ice looking for any way to injure the opposing team and leave them in a bloody mess, unable to join the play. Line brawls break out several times a game and the losing team will be down a man while he convulses on the ice and leaves a puddle of blood for the zamboni to clean up. Unlike its predecessor, Super Blood Hockey is not a game you would have given to a child to enjoy.
A number of different modes, including a franchise campaign, challenges, and tournaments, provide a variety of play options, but ultimately the gameplay just isn’t all that compelling. As a silly multiplayer game that you’re looking to have some dumb fun with a group of friends, Super Blood Hockey succeeds. For a hockey experience worth sinking countless hours into, the wait continues.