Super Blood Hockey [Review]

Oh yeah baby time to let that indie flag fly.

With a goal of making and posting regular reviews, I make a point of checking the indie radar from time to time. So here’s what we turned up today: Super Blood Hockey.

SBH is a pretty transparent, it is a hockey game. The hockey game contains copious amounts of pixelly blood. All that’s left is whether or not it is really that super. So it’s gameplay focused style doesn’t really give room for a story. Unless you count the thrilling love story of your fist making sweet love to someone else’s face of course.

Now if I know one thing about indies, its that there is a real sector for the pixelly graphics market. So SBH feels a bit retro in that sense, and I imagine, in the gameplay also.

The mechanics are actually pretty simple here, but also effective. Standard controls apply, move, shoot, pass, that sort of thing. But, of course, comes the sweet, sweet violence. When you don’t have the puck, you can check anybody, and yes that includes both the ref and your teammates. In fact, through certain conditions (which the game doesn’t really make clear), the hockey game can devolve into a full blown 4 V 4 punch on; Losers being down a player temporarily at the conclusion. A nice little bloody interlude in the game.

It’s good I won all those fights actually, because if you’re trying to win at hockey good freaking luck. Let’s be blunt, I love games, but I ain’t a pro. But even so, even this game seems a bit overboard. I have not been much of a retro gamer, but it definitely feels like that sort of retro difficulty. Starting off the game is fairly simple, but challenging. When shooting, for example, the aiming is controlled by the left stick, same as the movement. This can make aiming tricky as you’re negotiating where you want to take the shot from, and the specific angle you’re after. It’s worth noting that this is surface level, and guides on this game 1) Further reiterate my point that this game is hard if you don’t really know what you’re doing; and 2) Imply some depth to this game I hadn’t seen before. In my time I did feel around some of this stuff. Players of different size, I realised through trial and error, have different constitutions, so to speak. As such some characters can KO some with one shot, whereas others take a few swings. Conversely, smaller characters often have an agility advantage. So even there, we can see a bit of customisation and strategic wiggle room to add to proceedings.

Also, the AI can just stop already. I spent 6 minutes getting that one goal, I don’t appreciate it when you respond with 4 goals in the next minute. It doesn’t ruin the game, but suffice to say it makes me appreciate you can from in-game to main menu to quitting the desktop, because I ain’t standing for those shenanigans. No one thinks you’re cute, we just think you’re being a prick.

Finally let’s just chat about challenge mode. So the challenge mode is basically an exhibition match, but with x. But with 12 V 12, but with you controlling a single player, that sort of thing. Furthermore, victory in a challenge, opens up added customisation to exhibition games. Simply put, for an arcade style game as this, it feels like a good fit. It pushes you try out the game tweaks, and rewards you for your trouble, with new ways to tailor your preferred experience of the game. All in all good work guys.

One thing I tend to respect about good indie games is that there’s never a feeling of a certain need to go big or go home. In between the appetiser of a flash game, and the 25 course AAA game, is the space for a lovely little indie meal. Super Blood Hockey has a solid base, limited as it may or may not be, but it truly fills it. It’s fun, it’s retro, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s bloody good hockey.

4 out of 5

+ Simple to learn, Difficult to master gameplay
+ Enough game modes to keep you sticking around
- Computer is pretty difficult, even on easy mode