(Polygon.com) – Everyone’s hair flows freely in Old Time Hockey, an upcoming arcade sports title that is more nostalgia-focused than any modern 16-bit side-scroller. Vancouver-based developer V7 Entertainment’s motto might as well be “they don’t make ’em like they used to” — both for the kind of video game that Old Time Hockey is, and for the take on hockey that it’s aiming to deliver. In Old Time Hockey: nobody wears a helmet; fights break out frequently, and players hack at each other with their hockey sticks; athletes leave these brawls with blood streaming down their faces; it’s possible to injure enough opposing players to force a team to forfeit. This is exactly the kind of stuff you don’t see in the only other hockey video game that’s currently available: EA Sports’ long-running NHL series.
I’ve been a hockey video gamer my entire life. I owned Blades of Steel, Ice Hockey, and still own a copy of EA’s NHL Hockey ’92 (the first of their franchise) along with my Sega it was played on. I’m good at the games and I love them.
Unfortunately, EA’s NHL series has fallen on hard times. You can tune the offline gameplay settings to make it more enjoyable, but it only masks the main problem with EA’s modern day NHL game. It’s clunky.
In an effort to make their game as real as possible, which in many ways EA has, they’ve butchered the basics. Particularly skating. Controlling your skater in NHL 17 is like steering a bus full of screaming kids. You spend most of your time playing the game fighting the mechanics of basic skating in an effort to do simple things like face the puck or change direction. Simply put, EA added fantastic depth and beauty but lost a lot of the basic fun factor the series was originally built on.
Now the plea from hockey gamers world wide is for some one else to give us an alternative hockey game. A game that is just fun. That’s where Old Time Hockey comes into play. This game looks like it is going to be a blast. A beer drinking, high fiving, laugh-a-minute rocket ride into hockey history.
You’ll enjoy line brawls. There will be tomahawk chops and cheap shots. It’ll be simple, arcade fast skating where you can actually control your skater. It’s all packaged with retro “Slap Shot” inspired teams and barns that fill out this beauty. Hell, I even saw a replica Utica War Memorial rink (where I’ve played many times in real life) in the game. And it’s all done in 2 or 3 button mashing glory, or “Beer Mode”, where you can play with just one hand so you can hold a beer with the other. I’m not making that up. It’s a nice change from the “stuck in mud” next gen console skating technology we’ve been dealing with.
I’m pumped for Old Time Hockey to arrive in early 2017. It lifts my spirits for frustrated hockey gamers out there who’ve only had one game option in EA. Especially the 30-somethings like myself that are the original hardcore hockey gamers. And you can expect a full review from me when OTH drops.
Yes, EA sure can make a beautiful game. I do enjoy their product for the most part. But in their strive for next level simulation and greatness they created a chore and headaches. They haven’t been able to execute the basics like a great hockey team does. Old Time Hockey is here to save the day and fill that fun factor void we once enjoyed.