Game Name: Superstar Ice Hockey
Developer: SportTime (DesignStar)
Platforms: Amiga, Atari ST, Apple IIGS, Commodore 64, MS-DOS
Release Date: 1987-1988
If you follow my posts, you will probably know that when I was a kid, I had a Tandy 2000 SX. Back in the day, this was the Rolls Royce of computers. I would rely on my brother to buy games or copy them from friends. Back then, it was a lot easier to copy games as there was no copy protection (CRM). One of my first experiences of playing a video hockey game was, Hockey on Atari. The second game was this one, Superstar Ice Hockey. Let us see if this game holds up after all of these years.
This was my first introduction to hockey videogames, that actually looked like I was playing a real hockey game. There was an actual ice surface with boards. The players looked more polished. The version that I played the most was the MS-DOS version.
This game could be played with a joystick or with a keyboard. For this review, I played on a keyboard with the directional keys. The shoot button was the spacebar. So as you would expect the controls are quite simple. However, for its time, this game was quite complex.
You have 2 modes to choose from. You have Practice and League play. Let us start with the Practice mode. This mode is very basic. There are no known teams. It is a scrimmage game Red vs. Blue. In this mode, the players move a little quicker than in League play.
In League play, there is a lot more depth. First of all, this is not a NHL licensed and branded game. However, back then,there were 21 teams in the NHL and they are all pretty much here.
As you can see above, the CORPGAMER is the name of my team. When you create your own league, you can choose the name of your teams. Once you create your team, you can customize your team and setup new lines.
The amazing thing is that you can manage your lines depending on their strengths and their weaknesses. Again, these are not real NHL players but it is still fun to act like a General Manager or a Coach.
You can also improve your team by recruiting new talent. You can also trade some players. You can improve by sending your team to training. Not sure how much this works, but it is there nonetheless. My team was not dramatically improved after I sent them to hockey boot camp. :)
As you can see, that for an 80's hockey video game, it had a lot of depth which was rare at the time. You can also view points from each player on your team.
You can see the history of your team as you play many seasons. If I remember correctly, that was only seen in the EA NHL Sports games in the early 90's. This was definitely innovative at the time.
When setting up your league, you can play a season of 4, 7 or 11 games. For the playoffs, you have a choice of the Best of 1, Best of 5 or Best of 7.
How does the game actually play?
The controls are a little clunky. There is no passing and shooting button. It is one button that does it all. Controlling the players can be frustrating at times as they do not always react the way that you would like.
The AI in this game is very primitive. They just randomly skate around and once in a while they shoot on the net. If you want to shoot more, you will have to do it yourself.
Although this game has the above negatives, there is a sense of accomplishment when you win a game. It feels very rewarding.
There is very little sound in this game. Other than the whistle and end of period, you barely hear anything. Once in a while there is a ting from the goal posts. See some sample Gameplay below.
Has this game aged well? Not really. However I do appreciate the game for its innovation back in the day. It also gives me a sense of nostalgia as I played this when I was a kid. When comparing it to games that came out during the same period, I would still vote for Blades of Steel on NES. Although it was not as deep of a game, the gameplay was amazing. Superstars Ice Hockey really tried to be a great game with all the features mentioned above, but it seems that it fell short. The games themselves are not that exciting and the penalties seem so random. It is not a game of skill but of luck.
I may pick it up from time to time, but I do not think that this is a classic by any means. It was very innovative for the time and I hope that people remember it for what it did bring to the table.
Rating: 6 pucks out of 10
Did you play this game? What did you think? Am I aligned with your thoughts or am I out in left field somewhere? Let me know below.
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