SNES A Day 152: Hit the Ice


Approximate Release Date: February 2, 1993
Genre: Hockey
Developer: Taito
Publisher: Taito

In what could have been just an interesting failure in the arcade hockey genre, Hit the Ice instead decides to be annoying.

Here, just watch the video. Be sure to turn up your volume extra high!

In what universe do skates on ice make that noise? Does Hit the Ice include samples of the sounds of cats scratching a chalkboard? And why does the only other Super Nintendo hockey game so far – NHLPA Hockey ’93 – have similar issues with poor sound design? I made it about 20 seconds before muting this game and playing in joyous silence.

Hit the Ice tries to give hockey the NBA Jam treatment before NBA Jam even existed. Taito took hockey’s traditional above-the-action view and put it on its side. This allows the fewer number of players on the ice to be more graphically detailed and emotive. The downside is it can be difficult to judge where the puck is on the Y-axis. It’s easy to lose it when it stops in the bottom of the screen where the walls of the rink block your view. I had a hard time aiming my shots, managing to hit the side of the goal just as much as the goalie. The reflections on the ice are rendered by the game as if they’re a separate sprite, so when a big mosh is going on in front of the goal there is a lot of graphical flickering and slowdown. And, as expected, there is no NHL license (though the Blues are in the game! Kinda! In a way!)

Another annoyance is the controls. You have some, but not complete, control over all three characters at once. You directly control the goalie, one player, and the AI teammate’s shooting and passing. That’s a lot to keep straight in your head. I would have preferred to have the ability to switch between players for total control. The biggest problem happens when you’re chasing after the other team as they skate toward your goal. You have the chance to check them and knock the puck away, but doing so will drag your goalie out of position and leave the goal mostly undefended if you fail. And who knows if the AI teammate is doing anything useful.

Overall, I don’t think the side perspective benefits hockey like it does basketball. I love the idea of breaking hockey down to a 3-on-3 fast action arcade game but Hit the Ice goes about it in the wrong way at almost every level.

Tomorrow: Ever wanted to run your own airport? Aerobiz will let you realize your dream!

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