REVIEW: ‘Super Blood Hockey’ Takes You Back to NES-era Sports (Switch)

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Super Blood Hockey

When I was growing up, sports video games were complete packages, wrapped around great gameplay and presentation. It was a Golden Age, long before sports games became as they are today: Corporate, annual, monetized titles that perform the bare minimum. Among the many great sports games that were played during this Golden Era was Konami’s Blades of Steel, a game that  took the sport of ice hockey, greatly streamlined it, and turned it into a fast, enjoyable, action arcade game, filled with slapshots and rink fights. As I played Super Blood Hockey, from Loren Lemcke, these memories returned.

Super Blood Hockey is a game that certainly embraces the nostalgic enjoyment, and challenge, to become a fantastic sports game for all players. It plugs into the artery of NES-era sports games and runs with what made these games enjoyable. Easy controls, great presentation, and incredibly polished gameplay.

In Super Blood Hockey, players can choose one of several modes, from the quick match Exhibition mode to a full-fledged tournament and challenge mode. Players can then select their favorite team to play as, which includes the United States, Russia, and others, all vying for victory on the ice. A quick tutorial shows the ropes of the game and what is to be expected. From there, players are free to take to the ice.

Super Blood Hockey is a wonderfully enjoyable pixelated presentation, with an atmosphere that is reminiscent of great sports movies. From the moment players boot the game up, they are presented a menu, displayed on an old-fashioned tube-powered console TV, complete with knobs. This is accompanied by music from composer and chiptunist, Shawn Daley, who weaves in an energetic and epic chiptunes soundtrack into the game, greatly accompanying the game’s action and intensity.

Super Blood Hockey features incredible gameplay, but of course, as this game is plugging into old-fashioned design, expect the game to be quite a challenge against the AI. Players can choose between several different players on the ice, with their unique attributes. Some are tougher than others but not as good in passing. Others are faster, but can easily be knocked around. Players can also adjust the physics of the hockey puck, and the overall intensity of the difficulty. After choosing, players to take to the ice. All the rules of hockey are stripped away, leaving the only objective to score and to win.

You pass, shoot, and punch your way to victory in brutal but satisfying action. Playing the game is equal parts challenging and wildly enjoyable, with easy-to-learn controls but difficult-to-master shooting. As you are on the ice, the controls will, naturally, have a floaty feel to them to match the unpredictability of skating on ice. Fortunately, it doesn’t compromise the overall control mechanics of the game. Moving across the rink still feels tight and responsive, giving the right sensation of flow and speed.

Shooting and scoring is what will require some time of getting used to for players, as simply shooting a puck into a goal is not as easy as it sounds. Even on easy difficulty, Super Blood Hockey holds a firm challenge. Players will need to pass, shoot close, and shoot far in order to successfully make goals.

Later on, players will learn that they can charge their pass shots and goal shots to pass through opposing team members and maybe knock them down. When first playing, it may be terribly frustrating for new players, especially as the AI scores successful goals, usually bouncing off the goalposts, or making a very close shot. However, your own AI is responsive, and a combination of teamwork and aggression will ultimately yield results.

Super Blood Hockey

It is recommended that new players complete the tutorial, as well as play a few exhibition matches or challenges to gain a better feel of the game. After some times I was able to score successful goals, hold a defense, and actually win rounds, making the overall experience very fulfilling. Fighting also becomes incredibly important for the gameplay as well. Players can easily check players, knocking them off their feet, but repeatedly hitting the same player will unleash a brutal battle royale. Both teams will fight each other, and whoever wins will cause a power play, which can be advantageous in your match.

Super Blood Hockey becomes an absolutely thrilling hockey experience when everything comes together. Chunky red pixels splatter the ice with every check and knockdown, and the energetic music keeps the game feeling epic and charged as if every goal is putting the championship on the line. This is a sharp sensation experienced throughout the game, whether engaged in a tournament, an exhibition, or one of the game’s several challenge matches. Super Blood Hockey is great for solo players but becomes infinitely enjoyable when played with another player. 

While Super Bloody Hockey is a joy to play, I feel that the shooting could have been a bit more refined, and perhaps tapped into the absurdity of the game. The goalies are seemingly invincible, despite being hit with charged shots. I feel there could have been a means to defeat the goalies, either with the charged shots or some other means. This could also help those looking for a more accessible experience.

The game is challenging and rightfully so, though it would have been satisfying to have a small exploit in taking down goalies. Perhaps using special abilities inspired by hockey movies, like the infamous “Flying- V” from the first Mighty Ducks movie.   A story mode would have been a nice addition as well, as the team clearly have a style and passion for 90’s sports classics. However, what is presented is sharp and immeasurably enjoyable, especially with other players.

Super Blood Hockey is one of the best, if not the best, original sports game out on the scene today. The passionate enthusiasm for sports games can be found throughout the experience, from the tight and polished gameplay to the nostalgic presentation and chiptune soundtrack. Whether you are watching the Stanley Cup Finals or know hockey by the movies, Super Blood Hockey is big win. Super Blood Hockey is on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

Super Blood Hockey
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

Super Blood Hockey is one of the best, if not the best, original sports game out on the scene today. The passionate enthusiasm for sports games can be found throughout the experience, from the tight and polished gameplay to the nostalgic presentation and chiptune soundtrack.