Fanfare
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Fanfare

The Super Days of NES: “Ice Hockey” (1988)

(Credit: Nintendo Entertainment)

In the early days of home consoles sports games could be pretty isolating. When I played Nintendo Golf and shot 22 under par (which wasn’t easy) there was no one there to see it cause I almost always played by myself.

Ice Hockey was the first game to really change that dynamic. Even kids who weren’t “into sports” would be willing to forego something like Mario Bros. and lace up the skates.

This game was not only fun, it was hilarious. First you had to chose your line up of four goofy looking skaters (one less than you’d see in a normal game but so be it). You could chose from what we called “skinny, medium and fat guys”.

Choose your lineup. But choose wisely. (Credit: Nintendo Entertainment)

We played around with different combinations, but in the end if you didn’t choose one “skinny” guy and three “fat” guys you were just hurting yourself. The skinny dude could win face offs and chase down loose pucks. You needed him for that, but otherwise he was useless. And the three fat dudes, well they had powerhouse shots which you needed to score. They were also hard to knock down even though they were really really slow. So three chunky one skinny was the way to go.

Is that other team on an elevator? Cause it looks like they’re going down. (Credit: Nintendo Entertainment)

Ice Hockey wasn’t sanctioned by the NHL and probably for good reason. One of the most memorable and enjoyable aspects of the game was your ability to spark a bench clearing brawl pretty much any time you wanted. If you were pissed about losing, just tangle up your player with an opponent and chop their legs until both teams vaulted on the ice and gathered in a tornado of combat.

This idyllic scene could erupt into chaos anytime you wanted. (Credit: Nintendo Entertainment)

Nothing really happened as a result of this, but it was fun to watch. And it harkened back to the days of Eddie Shore and memories of the Hanson Brothers “foiling up for the game”.

If you never discovered the Easter Egg in this game I feel really bad for you. Here’s how it worked. If you were able to isolate one of your “fat guys” you could hit the button to shoot, but you didn’t release it. If you could manage to keep the other team from knocking you down for about ten seconds you could release the shoot button and the puck would fire out at a speed that was insanely fast.

The monster slapshot in real life. (Credit: Bleacher Report)

The puck could even fly down the whole length of the rink and hit the upper corner of the opposing net without the goalie even seeing it. Boom, goal. “How’d you do that?!” my friend might cry. And I’d tell him. Or maybe I wouldn’t, depending on what the score was.

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Billy Hartong

Billy Hartong

Founder of the kid’s music group The Jolly Pops. Unofficial expert on all things that happened in the 1990s. Father of 3 daughters. Proud Minnesotan.