☆ Review: Super Blood Hockey - "a strong focus on hitting people in the face" ☆ #GameDev

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Super Blood Hockey - PC

Let’s get it out of the way, Super Blood Hockey is a pure blast of arcade action.

Loren Lemcke has managed to capture the arcade feel of some classic games and distill it into a modern formula. Super Blood Hockey is pretty much summed up in its title; this is an arcade style ice hockey game with a strong focus on hitting people in the face, bereft of any repercussions.

In the game you get to choose from several different teams (Russia, Canada etc.) and after choosing your team you then select the types of player which form up your squad. Sniper (great at shooting but can get knocked down easily) enforcers (which can take a few hits but are slow on the ice) and a couple of others which add a level of simplistic tactics to the game that are fun to mess around with to see what suits your style of play.

The graphics in the game are pleasantly chunky and hark back to the 16-bit era with the added bonus of being extremely smooth. One of Super Blood Hockey’s strong points is how it takes a solid formula and irons out the limitations placed upon previous iterations by the technology available at the time. The gameplay is fluid and the weight of the players and movement of the puck feels ‘right’, which can be a deal-breaker in these types of games, if not handled correctly.

A lot of people will remember Ice Hockey on the NES, which is a game to which Super Blood Hockey owes a pint or two (of type ‘O’ negative) in the aesthetics department. The music, which is very much rooted in the NES-era, is incredibly catchy and the title screen of a city at night reminded me of the Streets of Rage intro (good).

The controls in the game are just pure pick up and play. The shoulder buttons flick between players on the ice, X controls the power of your shot, A is the same for your pass and B is the attack button (you’ll use this A LOT). When the match starts, you’ll be battering your opponents in no time, spraying geysers of blood all over the shop (all the while unlocking Steam achievements like ‘ruptured lung and ‘brain damage’). However much pain you unleash on the ice, there aren’t any lasting effects so the pace of the action stays high all the way through the match with nothing slowing down the constant pixelated gushing of blood.

Super Blood Hockey has a few different game modes, exhibition, tournament and also a challenge mode which, when completed unlocks greyed-out options in the settings that add extra touches to the game such as adjusting the weight of the puck etc. The challenges are TOUGH and consist of situations such as winning a match with a manually-controlled goalie, succeeding in a match where you are outnumbered by 8-4 players etc. (one of the options which I immediately ramped RIGHT up was raising the level of blood spilled in-game to preposterous amounts. Any vampires in the arena were loosening their ties, let me tell you!).

Whilst these optional alterations are nice additions to have, I feel that this is really a multiplayer game at heart. From what I can see, all of the teams are identical beyond their colours; the only differential comes into play with the previously mentioned player types.

This is an arcade style game with a heavy focus on dip in and out local multiplayer gameplay, which to me is timeless. The game supports up to four-player local play which is absolutely perfect for the kind of game this is. Vibes I got from Super Blood Hockey were Brutal Sports Football on the Amiga for its approach to comical violence over deep strategic gameplay (Brutal Sports Football is one of my favourite Amiga games) Speedball 2 for the fluidity and Instantly accessible gameplay and also the hugely underrated Wrecked on the PlayStation 3 for its 4-player fun factor timelessness.

Beyond its arcade-action charms, if I had to pick up any negatives, it would be the lack of variety in the game. The single-player mode I can imagine isn’t as much fun as multiplayer but to me that’s not a drawback as it’s not the main pull of the game. All the best multi-player games can be a bit lonely or dull in single-player modes. In fact, I recall reading a 43% review of the aforementioned ‘Wrecked’ when to me, it’s clearly one of the best and most addictive 4-player games on the PlayStation 3. In that review, the sole focus was on the lack of modes for single-player which I didn’t pick up on at all. Another thing I’ve noticed is the difficulty in one player matches due to the AI in the game which, at the time of writing this is being addressed in a patch.

Super Blood Hockey does its thing well, it has neat touches of humour with a bonkers Zamboni driver, matches that sometimes break into all out brawls and a referee that clearly doesn’t need to be there but I’m glad he is…so that I can punch him in the face.

The developer seems to be adding extra patches and changes on a daily basis which is promising as they seem to be responding positively to user feedback and acting on suggestions decisively.

As I’ve mentioned, maybe there isn’t enough depth here for some people and would that be solved by the Brutal Sports-like addition of weapons & energy bars?

Perhaps if different arenas, a dash button or special moves were available it would add to the longevity?

But at under a fiver, if you have a few friends who come around for some drinks and gaming this is definitely an essential purchase.

A quick shout out to my local ice hockey team the Cardiff Demons whose star player is the drummer from my band Old Samuel!

Rest assured we will be playing this game together very soon…..and If I win, I’ll never let him forget it.

Rating: ICE COOL

Game Link: Steam
Dev Link: Super Blood Hockey

Reviewed By Britt
(from @kingdomofcarts)

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