Ice Hockey Review

Developer: Activision Publisher: Activision
Release Date: N/A Also On: None

Third parties are common today. Indeed, anymore a console maker is not going to amount to much without their support. However, there was a time when that was not the case, a time when the leader in the “console warâ€? saw third parties, not as an asset, but as competition. It’s true. In 1980, when a few of Atari’s game designers broke away and formed Activision because they wanted to be credited for the games they programmed Atari didn’t see them as an asset. But either way, it was Activision that began the concept of third party developers, and they used their knowledge of the Atari 2600 to make some decent additions to the Atari 2600’s library, including Ice Hockey.

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Ice Hockey is exactly what it sounds like. Two teams of two players each try to get a puck into their goal as many times as possible within a time limit. Ice Hockey has something not possessed by many sports games in 1981, an AI opponent. It has two-player capability as well. The AI opponent may not be the world’s most intelligent, but that it had one at all was an asset to the game in this time period.

The graphics as a whole are quite good, with the players being done exceptionally well with many colors to them. They even look somewhat like people, which is quite a feat for a 1981 Atari 2600 game. There are two different color schemes for the two teams which means that there are more colors on screen at once than in many Atari 2600 games of the time. The sound effects also sound pretty good for the time period.

You may be wondering how the game knows whether to pass to the other player or take a shot since there are two players and only one button on an Atari 2600 joystick. The truth is, I don’t think it does. When you hit the button, the puck will launch at some vector toward either the top or the bottom of the screen, depending on where the goal is of the guy who had it. It doesn’t necessarily go toward the other player or the goal as you would intend though, just as often bouncing off a wall and quite often being closer to the opponent’s player than yours.

However, if you can get your offensive player the ball, it is quite easy to get right on top of the goal with him, particularly against the computer AI. However, the computer can sometimes do the same, so the games will often be high scoring. Stealing the puck is a matter of luck at best, as you seem to have to be in exactly the right position in order to do so.

The game always keeps track of which of your players is nearer the puck as that player is the one that you control. However, the other player will just stand wherever he was when you lost control of him, meaning that your defensive player can be left too far away from the goal to stop a shot. You know which player you’re controlling because only he will have a stick in his hand, so at least you’re never in doubt of which player you’re controlling.

Sports games aren’t for everybody, even today. If you’re not a fan of hockey, this game isn’t going to change your mind, but if you are a fan of hockey and you want to see how hockey video games got their start, this game is quite fun despite its simplicity. It is proof that Activision certainly knew what they were doing when they went into business for themselves.

Graphics: 8
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 7
Final: 7.8
Written by Martin Review Guide

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