Ice Hockey (アイスホッケー Aisu Hokkē?) is a 1988 video game published and developed by Nintendo for the Nintendo Entertainment System video game console, based on the sport of the same name. It was released in Japan, and was later released in North America and in some PAL regions.
Game Designer - Hideki Konno
The six teams available were only differentiated by color, USA (Blue), Sweden (White), Poland (Brown), Canada (Green), The Soviet Union (Red), and Czechoslovakia (Grey). These teams were for the PAL release and the United States version.
In Japan for the Famicom and Famicom Disk System version, the lineup is Japan (JPN), United States (USA), Czechoslovakia (TCH), Canada (CAN), Poland (POL), and the Soviet Union (URS).
There are also differences in the music. In the Japanese version, the music for the in-game play, and for scoring a goal, is completely different than the US version.
It was before the days of NHL licensing, real life player endorsements, and individual stats. There was no career mode, no salary cap, no stat tracking, and roster management came down to that crucial choice of skinny, fat, or middle. Skinny guys were fast and nimble, but they could be knocked off the puck by a light breeze. Fat guys were slow and carried a lot of momentum, but most opposing players simply bounced off of them like a blob of bouncy… blobby stuff. Last, the middleweights were the middle point you would expect, but had a slap shot that put all others to shame. This simple dynamic is what became the core of the game. Selecting different combinations demanded that you change the way you played. A team full of fatties was not going to win by pure offense and a team full of stick-men was not going to win any awards in the defensive department.
Gameplay was pretty simple. On offense, ‘A’ was pass and ‘B’ was shoot. While on defense, ‘A’ was change players and ‘B’ was used to swing your stick at opposing players in an attempt to knock them off their feet and take the puck. The game got a little more complicated when it came to your goalie. These days we are pretty used to the goaltender being controlled by the game itself (unless you forcefully take control) and most of your defense comes down to trying to take the puck away from the other team before they have a chance to shoot. In Ice Hockey, the goalie is always in your hands. ALWAYS. Even when controlling a player on the ice , your goalie is constantly mirroring his movements. It can be a very difficult dynamic for modern players to get used to.
There was only one more aspect to the gameplay, fighting. Fighting in Hockey games past and present has always been a bit of a conundrum. In real Hockey, fighting becomes a psychological tool used to rally your own team, protect your goal scorers, and possibly intimidate the opposition. Modern Hockey games have tried to capture this dynamic, but still have yet to truly translate it into a gameplay mechanic. Ice Hockey took a different approach. A fight could be initiated as two players rapidly fought for the puck while hammering away at the ‘B’ button. If the two man scuffle endured long enough, every skater on the ice would mob together to form an all out brawl. The animation for this was reminiscent of old cartoon, much of the action taking place inside of a dust bubble of sorts with the occasional player spilling out of the fight and diving back in when he gets back on his feet. The whole time, you were still frantically trying to mash the ‘B’ button faster than the other player. Once the game decided who had won, a referee would pop in and drag the loser to the penalty box, his team playing a player short for a little while. This was far from the reality of the sport, but it was a very solid gameplay mechanic.