The Nintendo Switch is a great console, there’s no doubt about that. Personally, one of the best features Nintendo has brought to Switch is the ability to play old NES titles such as The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros. 3, and Kirby through the Nintendo Switch Online service. Some of these games hold such a special place in my heart, as they were some of the first ones I ever laid my hands on.
When I saw this particular game in the Switch NES library, I knew I had to try it. I don’t have fond memories of this one, since most of them involve frustrated screaming at my brother for always beating me. Still, the strangely shaped dudes swooping around on the digital hockey rink awakened such a sense of nostalgia in me that I had to see if the game was still as horrible as I remembered.
Long story short, yes, yes it was.
Immediately as my simulated hockey match started, I remembered why I was never a match for my brother. I could never figure out which button did what! Luckily, I’m not five anymore, so now I figured it out within a few minutes. Still, even with my adulthood-brought skills, I was no match at all against the CPU player and got my hindquarters kicked in a rather spectacular manner. My second match went slightly better, as this time I even managed to score a few goals myself, though I still lost in the end.
The good thing about old NES games such as Nintendo Ice Hockey is that in the end, the controls are very simple. The old NES controller only had the D-pad and the A and B buttons, so there’s not much room for difficult button combinations. Fortunately, ice hockey doesn’t need much more than that (players of newer NHL titles may disagree on this), so I learned the basics of the game quite fast: one button for passing the puck and the other for shooting.
After three games, I had finally had enough. My final result against the slowest CPU was 3–6 in a 21 minute game. By now I had reached my conclusion on this old legend: it’s just not for me. The nostalgia of the NES aesthetics might tickle someone’s fancy, but for me this was a good reminder of why I’ve always steered clear of sports games. Nevertheless, even if I can’t say I enjoyed playing, I would recommend giving it a go if you have the Nintendo Switch Online subscription.
Developer: Nintendo (R&D2 and R&D4)
Platforms: NES, Famicom, Wii, Wii U, Switch
Original release date: January 21, 1988