Do you like hockey but wish there weren’t so many pesky rules? Do you like the idea of watching a player seize and hemorrhage on the ice? Have you ever been watching a game and found yourself wishing everything was pixelated? Do you wish you were a hockey GM but know deep down in your heart that you would surrender yourself to shady business practices and would like to avoid any real-world consequences? Well then you’re in luck, friend, because Super Blood Hockey offers all this and more!
Like any good Canadian, I love hockey. I cried when my team (The Ottawa Senators) made it to the Stanley Cup finals in 2007. I cried when they lost. I cried again when they made it to the conference finals 10 years later. I cried when they lost there too. And if you know anything about the franchise itself, you’ll know I basically haven’t stopped crying since then.
I grew up watching the height of the Battle of Ontario between my beloved Sens, and the ragtag bunch of villainous miscreant meatheads known as the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Suck it, Leafs fans. I said what I said). Does the name Tie Domi sound familiar to any of you? If so, imagine icing a team that is nothing but Tie Domi types, and you’ll understand what SBH is all about. Despite how much I hated Domi back in the day, and despite talks around the league in recent years about concussion protocols and scaling back on violence, I must admit that I’m a gal that enjoys a good ‘ol fashioned hockey fight. Sorry not sorry. It’s precisely why I enjoyed this game so much.
In case the name of the game didn’t tip you off, Super Blood Hockey isn’t here to be taken seriously. It delivers exactly what is promised; Super, Bloody, Hockey. You can bloody up your opponents in exhibition, tournament, challenge, or franchise modes, all of which are quite frankly hilarious. My boyfriend, who is a bad Canadian, graciously accepted to play alongside me for the purposes of this review despite the fact that his eyes glaze over like someone on the receiving end of a Ryan Reaves punch every time I so much as mention anything hockey related.
We immediately entered into a tournament, stupidly skipping the tutorial mode available in the main menu, and while what followed may not have been hockey, it was an absolute barrel of laughs and herein lies Super Blood Hockey’s biggest asset. If you’re hanging out with some friends, cracking open a beer, and looking for something that will challenge and entertain, you’re going to be hard-pressed to find something that does that better than SBH at a similar price point. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I subsequently purchased it on PS4, despite having received the code to review it on the Switch.
While the multiplayer is insanely fun and sure to provide hours of entertainment for hockey fans and arcade style game fans alike, it is unfortunately a game that is harder to enjoy for long periods of time when you’re flying solo.
SBH offers a franchise mode, where you control the aforementioned shady GM as he attempts to fill, train, manage, and keep alive a roster full of convicted felons you select from a prisoner catalogue (Did I mention this game is not for children?). Looking through the catalogue, it’s difficult to argue that the price of admission for this game isn’t damn near worth it just for the player names alone. I, of course, elected to represent team Canada and received a prisoner catalogue full of names that would look incredible on an Olympic roster such as Philippe Toboggan, Etienne Cornichons, Mathias Beavertail, Enzo Toonie, Laurent Sorry, and Caleb Garburator (For you non-Canadians out there, a garburator is what you likely call a garbage disposal). We spent quite a bit of time just going through the list and pointing out the ridiculously Canadian names.
Unfortunately, my players also needed to be fed and trained and assessed, and it was time to get back to business. The Franchise Mode is fun when it’s game day and you’re back in action, otherwise it sadly starts to get tedious and repetitive rather quickly. It’s like taking care of a Tamagotchi except your Tamagotchi is a bunch of convicted criminals who apparently need to be told when to hit the treadmill.
The game also offers a Challenge Mode, which gives you the opportunity to unlock new content as you win more challenges. While trying your hand at different challenges is a nice change of pace from both Franchise Mode or just the 4-on-4 hockey offered in Tournament mode, it too could only hold my attention for a short time.
Mechanically, the game handled very smoothly for me on both consoles, and the controls were simple enough for anyone to pick up rather quickly; Skate, pass, check, shoot, switch players. It’s all fairly straightforward, as you’d expect an arcade style game to be.
Prior to each game, you’re prompted to select your players and this might be the only thing SBH has in common with, you know, ACTUAL hockey. The players you have on the ice each play an important role in the overall structure, strengths, and weaknesses of your team. A team full of enforcers? Don’t expect to be able to match your opponent’s speed. A team full of snipers? Sure, sounds great until a brawl breaks out and your snipers are brutalized by your opponent’s enforcers. A team full of playmakers? Who do you think you are, the 2013 Chicago Blackhawks? My personal recommendation (a team is 4 players) is a sniper, two playmakers, and an enforcer, although it should be noted that my win/lose ratio is shockingly bad so what the hell do I know?
It is worth noting that while this title has been out for some time, it is receiving a special packaged edition from Premium Edition Games in December. However, it can be pre-ordered here for those who want the full-color manual, collectable, trading card and more.
Invite some friends over, choose your geographical allegiance, create a bracket system and make an evening of it. I promise you’ll laugh so hard, you won’t even care when one of your players dies mid-game of a ruptured spleen right on the ice. Or, you can appreciate the single player modes for what they are, but this is definitely something you’re going to want to play with others to really enjoy to its fullest.