Saturday, 01 April 2006
A perennial favourite ever since we first rented it oh so long ago, Hit the Ice is one of those rare gems that shines through the vail of mediocrity and becomes more than just a mere game -- it becomes a legendary classic in its own right. While it's a given that a SNES hockey game that allows you to kick opposing players square in the 'nads was destined for greatness, for some peculiar reason, it has gone largely forgotten by most of the gaming public. I thought a nice, heartfelt tribute to one of the best hockey games of the 16-bit era was long overdue, so here we are, hockey fans. Instead of simply going on and on about the greatness of this buried treasure, I thought we'd mix it up a bit and try something a little different. (Just be patient for the pics to load...Unless you have a high-speed Internet connection, that is. In that case, you can go play soccer barefoot with a bowling ball, you spoiled little ****er.)
Now pardon my saying, but I've never been a huge fan of most hockey games, given that sports has never been one of my big interests. Sure, I like to watch hockey during the playoffs, and I occasionally tune in to a NASCAR race, but that's about it. I guess my dislike of simulation sports games stems from my impressionable youth, when my brother and cousin would play hockey games and I would always be taken aback by the need to go through static, overloaded menu screens overflowing with endless options before you could actually start to play the damn game. To this day, I find it very difficult to stomach playing any game that's too sim-y. (You understood that, right?) For me, at least, arcade-style has always been the way to go. Incidentally, there are three hockey games that stand out in my mind as perfect examples of what a hockey game should be at the core, a fast-action party game: Hit the Ice is one of them, and was certainly the first to make any real impression on me. The second is Wayne Gretzky's 3D Hockey for the N64, and the last one is NHL Hitz 2003 for the PS2.
It has always been an inkling of mine that a hockey game needs to be two things; user-friendly and playable even to those who don't particularly like the sport. Granted, any game will have a slight learning curve, but it is not necessary to bombard the players with superfluous features and controls and stats. From what I've seen over the years, people in general only want to do two things in a hockey game: score a goal and beat the shit out of everyone else on the ice. In this respect, Hit the Ice is certainly the grand-daddy of all modern arcade hockey games, and in many ways, it has yet to be surpassed. So, here's a first for Retro-Playback...Let's take you directly to the ice for all the highlights of a heated matchup between two rival teams; one controlled by me, and the other controlled by the game's CPU. As Mills Lane would so adequately put it, "Let's get it on!"
Alright, let's see...Yep, that's what we're looking for. Ahh, isn't it nice how menu screens back then could be easily understood by even the most dim-witted of individuals? I'm liking this already...
Hmm...Which two teams should we pit against each other? I guess I'll pick the Oranges, since I've always had a thing for citrus...And their opponent will be -- what the hell? -- the N.Y. Blues.
Oh yeah, now it's all coming back to me; I definitely remember "Bo" Cleveland. It wouldn't surprise me at all if this guy were responsible for more groin injuries than break dancing and tennis balls put together. But more on that a little later...
Uhh, I'm thinking the designers managed to overlook one key detail...I've never heard of a Canadian city named "Torontone." Is it near Moosejaw?
Alright...This is it. The players look at each other with complete disgust...Or is that the look of indigestion? Hmm, I dunno. The teams have already begun to taunt each other, though, so this could get real ugly, real fast.
Well the game is certainly off to a good start. Within thirty seconds of the opening whistle, two players have already found each other for a brawl, though I'm saddened to say "Bo" got his ass handed to him this time around. Revenge will be swift and just...
Within seconds of getting knocked flat on his ass, "Bo" skates up to the Blues' netminder and makes the ever-important first goal. GOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL!
"Bo" finds it irresistable to gloat, and begins wiggling his ass around in an attempt to rile the other team. I'm not sure if it's working...But the referee sure did seem to notice.
After Bo's shameful display of ass-wiggling, the Blues waste no time in delivering a punishing Super Shot that sends the goalie flying into the boards. That's one spicy meat-a-ball!
The Oranges were obviously not expecting that goal and are pretty pissed. While the goalie shoves a Blues player off his skates, Bo gives another player a swift kick in the pants.
And the Blues score another two goals. The situation is definitely looking grim for the Oranges...Might it be that the tarty, juicy fruit after which they're named is Mother Nature's natural born loser?
Finally, after a few tense seconds, the Oranges put one past the Blues goaltender and bring the score a little closer. The ghost in the upper right corner of the stands sure seems happy about it.
And on to the third period...Wait, is this scene even physically possible? Well, whatever's going on down there, you can be sure it's causing someone severe brain trauma.
At this point in the game, it's beginning to look pretty grim for the Oranges. While the goalie dives for a puck that isn't anywhere near him, Bo begins whaling on a defenseless opposing player. Long live senseless brutality!
After one of Bo's kicks, a Blues player sees fit to roll over and play dead. I've got to hand it to 'em: they are pretty crafty.
And another devastating goal with only fifteen seconds left on the clock...This is just rubbing it in, folks. A comeback at this point seems highly unlikely.
Well, it's officially over, folks. Bo's repeated blows to the crotch and Bob Dover's miserable attempts at saves couldn't halt their defeat at the hands of the Blues.
This truly is a devastating loss. Certainly, Player 1 would have had a better chance at winning had he taken the time to learn the controls before jumping ass-first into the game.
(Sigh!) Well, that's life...You win some, you lose some, and you kick some square in the 'nads. The moral of this story, I suppose, is...Uhh, I can't think of one. But the point is -- err, I can't think of that either. Let's just say that Hit the Ice is a unique game and call it a night, shall we?