TV Sports Hockey


Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 6

Sound: 6

Gameplay: 6

Overall: 6

A good portion of the game playing population still swears by EA's "NHL 94" on the Genesis, claiming it to be the greatest hockey game ever created. That says something considering this genre generally leaves its past behind. While there's almost no question that "TV Sports Hockey" gave that title some inspiration, it just doesn't play as well.

Eight teams are in contention for a chance to become International League champions. The tournament mode allows for password backup and its length is more than reasonable. Each game here is played with full international rules and 20-minute periods. Those just looking to pick up and play a quick game can play an exhibition, a mode where the rules are thrown out and fights occur with higher frequency.

That's pretty much the extent of this title. There's not a whole lot to do and you can't do anything with the rosters. You can't even change the time of the periods. It's always 20. Of course the game IS hosted by gap-toothed Smiley McGill, former hockey star who did, well, absolutely nothing because the developers made him up.

Played from the same view that made EA's juggernaut such a success, "TV Sports Hockey" suffers from one major flaw. It's way too slow. It doesn't even come close to matching the speed of the real sport. Worse, when things do pick up (after a long slap shot especially), it slows down. Passing can also be a challenge, but that's just because of game design. It has nothing to do with the speed.

Face offs occur from an overhead view, featuring large sprites and quite a bit of animation. These occasionally can cause problems not only with the AI, but with the player too. You can sit there jabbing at the "I" button, obviously making contact, but the puck just sits there. You can never swat the puck away with any consistency even though there are a lot of options.

Two other close-ups, fighting and breakaways, work a little better. The fighting system is better than most hockey games today even if the animation is a bit stiff. Breakaways are an obvious selling point (since a picture of one takes up massive real estate on the back of the box) and it's for a reason. Not only do they look good, but also it puts both players in a tense situation. The shooter can take aim and the goalie must make the proper move to stop the puck from catching the net. It doesn't really jar the gameplay that much either.

Of course the standard view is where most of the action is. The sprites are a little under whelming, but they get the point across. Animation is sufficient, but it won't surprise you. Only the close-ups show off the hardware and those never slow down.

There's a lot of organ music here, but the short tune leading into a face off gets extremely annoying, especially when playing with the full rule set. Crowd noise is absent for most of the game unless something major happens (goal, penalty, etc.). A few voice samples add to the impact of big hits and shots come off the stick with a nice "thwack." It's enough to keep things above average, but not by much.

This is easily the best game out of this series, which started with the absolutely awful "Football." Each subsequent entry was better than the last, so who knows how the unreleased "Baseball" would have turned out? As it stands, this is really the only choice for Turbo hockey. "Hit the Ice" is dull, boring, slower, and it's just not a lot of fun.


Go to Digital Press HQ
Return to Digital Press Home

Last updated: Sunday, October 31, 2004 08:49 AM