Superstar Ice Hockey (Databyte/Mindscape) Review | Commodore User - Everygamegoing

Commodore User

Superstar Ice Hockey
By Mindscape International Inc
Commodore 64/128

Published in Commodore User #51

Superstar Ice Hockey

Ice hockey can hardly be classed as one of Britain's most popular spectator sports, which probably explains why there have been so few home computer interpretations of the game. Anirog's (now Anco) Slapshot is the only other game of this type that springs to mind.

Superstar Ice Hockey is billed as the first complete ice hockey simulation, which basically means that the designers have attempted to capture all the thrills and spills of a 'real' ice hockey league by incorporating as many rules and play strategies as possible.

There seems little point relating the rules to the uninitiated - suffice it to say, ice hockey is essentially a bastardised version of soccer on ice, with a puck instead of a ball. The puck isn't kicked - it's manipulated with a stick. [And GP's a poet - and didn't even know it - Ed]

Superstar Ice Hockey

In Superstar Ice Hockey, the opposition can be controlled by flesh or microchip, or a combination of both. With the exception of the coaches, centres (sic) and goalies, the computer always synchronises the team's actions. Alternatively you can leave the computer to control the centre or goalie, or to make the coach's decisions regarding simplistic offensive and defensive strategies.

A human player can control two of the three variables - but not the centre and the goalie together. Being able to control only one player out of the whole team is one of Superstar Ice Hockey's most annoying flaws. Control is never transferred to other team members, as in, say, Andrew Spencer's International Soccer, and subsequently playability is further marred by the fact that the screen follows the progress of the punk, not that of your player. Worse still, the centre is slow to respond to joystick input and movement is inertial - which means that the skater takes an excruciatingly long time to turn.

While this may arguably be deemed realistic, it's far from conducive to a playable environment. When it boils down to it, there's little point in attempting to make any computer simulation so realistic, as reality is full of many tedious, mundane, actions which we perform instinctively. And when you're trying to relax and enjoy yourself playing a computer game, you don't want to have to actually think about something you would otherwise take for granted.

Rules and strategies, for example, are far easier to relate to and execute in a real game of hockey that in a joystick controlled simulation. And anyway, using a joystick to choose a strategy from a limited selection is hardly realistic.

There just isn't enough playability in Superstar Ice Hockey to make it entertaining, and the lack of atmosphere and rewarding strategy is poor compensation for anyone interested in ice hockey. Designer Ed Ringler ought to take a leaf out of Andrew Spencer's book. International Soccer is a prime example of how to capture the flavour of a sport in a computer game - the emphasis is on atmosphere and playability, not accuracy.

Gary Penn

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