I’m not entirely certain when ice hockey games’ heyday was, but there aren’t many of them around these days. Sure, there’s a few notable examples, but it’s a far cry from the breadth of options available to fans of, say, football. Super Blood Hockey takes an arcade and surprisingly twisted approach to the whole thing. It’s probably not going to scratch your serious hockey itch, but if you want some quick to pick up local multiplayer you could definitely do worse.
The hockey gameplay is simple enough to be accessible, but deep enough to enable some pretty tense games, at least against other humans. You can take quick shots at goal or hold the button to power up your shot but lower its accuracy, and the same goes for passes. On the easy difficulty, the game is actually rather hard, with the AI being pretty unforgiving. It’s likely you’ll spend your first few matches losing, or at least struggling to barely draw. You’ll adjust after a while, but it continues to be an overly difficult game, and this could be a dealbreaker if you just want something a bit mindless. For those who like that kind of thing, you’ll find enough depth to keep you entertained on your own for a few hours.
Your players all have their own attributes which, as well as the usual things like speed and accuracy, also includes their body type. Bigger, heavier players are better at checking players and keeping hold of the puck, but they’re slower and less manoeuvrable. Lighter players are quicker but more fragile, so are better suited to quick attempts at goal or fast passing, because they’re in for a world of hurt otherwise. You’ll want a healthy mix of these types in your team of four or you’ll be at a bit of a disadvantage, unless you choose tactics that are a little outside of the box, anyway.
As the name implies, there is either a super amount of blood in Super Blood Hockey, or a lot of super blood. Either way, there’s some blood spatter when tackling players, and if you check the same player multiple times in a row you’ll start the inevitable fight. This starts a small scale battle between both teams, with the winning team earning a power play, leaving one of the losing team’s players out of action for a while as they bleed all over the ice and convulse horrifically. Inevitably, the team with heavier players has an advantage in a fight, so it’s entirely possible that you could pick more bigger players and keep starting fights to remove enemy players from the match. The only issue with this approach is that combat is just one button to punch whilst skating about, so it can be a little difficult to come out on top consistently.
There are a few modes to contend with as well. The tutorial actually begins by poking fun and saying “new recruits” have been complaining that it’s rigged, that someone quit after only six minutes on the ice, and then going on to explain how the game works in similarly tongue in cheek style. Also available is the exhibition mode for local multiplayer, and with a few modifiers that need to be unlocked from the challenge mode. This has a five extra modes to, well, challenge yourself with, such as a match where you play as a team of four against eight, or win whilst controlling only one player. These each unlock a corresponding modifier that you can use in other modes, such as changing players weights or changing puck elasticity and friction. My favourite was a 12v12 match, which is actually more chaotic than you’re expecting.
A tournament mode allows you to have a tournament against your friends, as long as there’s no more than seven of them, because there are only eight teams in the game. The main and strangest mode is the franchise mode, which has you buying prson inmates to populate your team and, if you lose a power play, replace them when they actually die. I actually had a player die in my first match, leaving me without enough cash to replace him and having to play matches a player short – did I mention this game is hard? It’s an enjoyable mode with a genuinely dark sense of humour. It’s practically hockey slavery.
All this is delivered in a blood-slicked pixel art package. There isn’t much else to say about it really, it’s pixels and you either like it, you don’t, or it doesn’t matter to you. It’s well animated and fits the slightly odd tone of the game quite well. If you’re a little squeamish you can turn the blood off before starting a game, or turn it way up if you’re into that kind of thing, though when I did this the frame rate on my Switch dropped during particularly messy moments.