|Wayne Gretzky Hockey|
This hockey title is another example of a video game company trying to get people's attention by simply having a famous name attached to the game. In this case T*HQ got the endorsement of hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, which seemed like a good idea at the time. After all Gretzky is widely regarded as the greatest hockey player ever, setting numerous records, leading the Edmonton Oilers to four Stanley Cup titles, and making the once-lowly Los Angeles Kings into a competitive team. However, while some licensed titles do their namesake proud, such as Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!, this one drags the Great One's name through the mud as T*HQ once again puts out a dud of a NES game.
One or two players can choose from 10 teams, and two players can choose whether to play on the same team or on opposite teams. There are three types of modes, all of which just have a single game: practice, normal, or playoff which, despite the name, is just a normal game that has an unlimited overtime won't end in a tie. Other options include setting the period length and skill level. Once the options are set, its out ot the ice to drop the puck and start the three periods of action. The action on the ice is seen from overhead and features pretty standard hockey fare, with passing, shooting, and body checking as well as penalties, such as offsides and icing, which can force put one of your teammates in the penalty box and leave you a man down. You also get to see the arena scoreboard showing who scored a goal or showing the referee laying down a penalty. The winner is the team with the mast goals at the end of three periods, but if the score is tied at the end of three, a sudden death overtime will be played. In Normal mode if neither team scores in the extra period the game is declared a draw, but in Playoff mode you have unlimited time to decide a winner.
The graphics and sounds are both below average. The players are very tiny and their movements are choppy. It's like you're looking down at the game from the ceiling. Plus there's a LOT of blue. Even the referee's faces on the arena scoreboard are blue. The sounds are worse, with VERY annoying music on the title screen and blah sound effects throughout the game. There's no in-game music except for the face-offs; you're mainly left with barely audible crowd noise and a horrible horn that blares when you make a goal. At least the two voice clips saying "He shoots!" and "Scores!" are decent.
As you might imagine, the overall execution of this game is ice cold. First of all with the controls are terrible. It's hard to move your guy where you want him to. You have to aim your shot by pressing the control pad in the direction where you want to pass and shoot, and it can be a task and a half. Plus the control doesn't automatically switch over to whoever has the puck; you have to press SELECT to cycle through your teammates and it doesn't always pick the man you want, especially the guy with the puck. Basically you often have to depend on your teammates to carry the puck. Trouble is your teammates seem to aimlessly wander around in circles most of the time without a clue what to do and they seem to pass the puck in random directions. The computer-controlled opponent is much of the same way. In addition there's only the single game no matter which mode you choose; this game does not have a tournament or season mode. Finally Gretzky himself only appears on the box. Greanted there's a guy in a Los Angeles colors uniform shooting a puck on the intro screen and the name Gretzky does appear in the L.A. team's lineup, but since there's no real difference in any of the players, you can't be sure it's him.
It seems ironic that the greatest hockey player of all time would lend his name to the worst hockey game ever but that's exactly what happens here. Wayne Gretzky Hockey is just a terrible game all around. The audio, visuals, and gameplay are all bad and there's not one redeeming thing about this cartridge. Even fans of The Great One wouldn't have the patience to sit through this. Better stick with Blades of Steel for your NES hockey fix; this cart should just be used as a hockey puck.
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