Super Blood Hockey has had a resurgence recently and I have opted to see what all the talk was about. I was met with a visceral and brutal re-imagining of a classic sport game.
The game throws the player straight in with you, the coach, talking to the Receptionist about registering a team in the International League of Blood Sports (ILBS). It was an easy register until the Receptionist states that you do not have enough money BUT you do have an incredibly fresh kidney to donate. The screen goes black and you wake up strapped to a table with a guy ripping your kidney out. You then wake up with some money and a fully stocked area for training your enforcer, play maker, sniper and goalie, which you will have to evaluate and purchase.
Players have six traits: Skating, accuracy, power, brawling, robustness and brain damage. Everyday, one of these traits, except for accuracy and robustness, can be decreased or increased through training. Taking showers reduces brain damage, the treadmill increases skating, lifting weights increases power and the punching bag increases brawling. Weight is also a factor. Players need to eat and you can choose how much to feed them, from nothing to utter feasting. This pertains to how fast or how slow the players are, for example: making a sniper or play maker underweight helps them skate faster, but having the enforcer overeat and gain weight allows his to soak up more punches during fights, but it sacrifices his speed. There is a drug dealer that sits behind the dumpster out back that offers you a wide variety of drugs that can aid you in your quest to the best: Cannabis, cutters, bulkers and steroids. All of this may seem like an enormous learning curve but it is in fact quite easy to grasp after a few days.
In between trying to figure out how to treat your players, you have to participate in games that reward you with cash prizes so that you can feed, pay rent, purchase more players and buy drugs for your players. Teams of five enter the rink, the puck drops and it is an actually brilliant free-for-all (for the most part). You control one of the four players (not the goalie) and you essentially just play hockey for four, three minute periods. Pass, skate, pass and take shots until the puck skates by the goalie for one of those sweet, sweet goals. The goals are the most rewarding next to mid-maxing your players that the game can offer. While playing, to many checks can result in some of the bloodiest fights in a game that I have ever been a part of. Fight’s pit each team against each other and whatever comes out losing has a player suffering a debilitating or even a fatal injury. Injuries impact the player after the game has concluded and if it is debilitating enough, that player can be set to the infirmary. Players who enter the infirmary require upkeep and upkeep is expensive when money is tight. You can either hold onto a friend or pull the plug to save money for a replacement. I had a franchised that ended when two of my players got their asses destroyed and entered the infirmary after the game, one died on the ice and I did not have enough money to keep them alive. I was essentially forced to start a new franchise.
Even on easy the opponent’s AI is sometimes difficult, but a lot of the time the AI can be easily duped. Skating around the goals while the dumb asses follow you is an easy way to manipulate the AI. If you are up on goals, you can sit behind your own goal and the AI will RARELY come to get you and if they do, they will run into the goalie, get hit and then retreat. Games can sometimes be a cake-walk which is annoying. The friendly AI can also be incredibly frustrating at times. When ever I wanted to make a cross pass to another player he always gravitated towards me and ended up behind me, essentially ruining the sweetest of passes.
Super Blood Hockey is an oddity. I had fun every time that I sat down to play it, but it always got old quickly. On paper it seems like such a good idea but the execution has always left me wanting way more. The min-maxing is fun. The AI does bring the game down a lot because the AI does not act like they play hockey…In a hockey game. Couch co-op is frantic and fun. The challenge modes stack against you and reward you with fun alternatives to the game. Overall I had fun with the game and I recommend for those who love the arcade hockey genre.