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Pro Sport Hockey

Sometimes you forget how things were prior to the advent of the internet. So many videogames came and went without notice. Pro Sport Hockey is one of these games that never brought in supporters clamoring for a sequel, never impacted the competition, and has for better or worse been ignored since its release in 1994. My attempts to research the game turned up some pretty lame results. A 2.5/5 score in Nintendo Power. And…some screenshots. That’s all there was.

For Jaleco Entertainment’s sake, we‘re going to say this wasn‘t exactly the finished product they had in mind. If PSH were thrown out in the mid-eighties, it would’ve been par for the course, but this was an NES remake, and the original only came out one year prior to it’s release. But, what kind of a difference did that timeframe make?

screenshot

It must have been improved for the SNES port, right? Well, they did touch a couple things up (or at least touched them). The players took on the resemblance of monkeys, rather than stick figures. It was a step in the right direction. Rather than leaving the ice solid white, with all the appropriate markings drawn in, the ice instead followed a blue and white pattern of coordinating horizontal lines from one end to the other. The perspective took an angled shift, so the nets appeared to be disproportionate to the goalie – this may have also been what threw the feeling of having some kind of presence on the ice off – it’s rare that the player ever knows exactly where they’re going on the ice or if they’re lining up right for a check.

When hell freezes over, it might look a lot like Pro Sport Hockey. It’s difficult to come to a game’s defense when so little has been done to perpetuate any positive changes. Audio effects still sound as though they’re coming from one of the earliest consoles, aside from slightly satisfying organ music which will probably end up being shut off in options, just because the menu music’s that grating.

Pro Sport Hockey.”An energy system has been implemented in this version, which is probably the best thing the game has going for it. The concept was to wear down the opposition, causing the goalies little positional indicator to turn from blue to flush red. Once sufficiently tired, he’ll apparently be incapable of stopping your shots. It’s unfortunate, because it makes for scoreless games when you turn off the fatigue feature. Passing is also difficult, as computer players quickly scramble inward, collecting the puck. The same doesn’t go for your offensive line, who never makes a feasible attempt to intercept the other team’s passes. Energy is also expended with increased physicality, giving players another drawback for fisticuffs and general roughing beyond the penalty box. Yet there’s no way to steal the puck without unintentionally putting the player in danger for a penalty or loss of energy. It’s also too easy to run into teammates when checking, which can be amusing, but also drains the player.

screenshot

It would seem that for Pro Sport Hockey’s positive attributes, several points have been knocked off of some other category, or the game was manipulated to counter-balance the good changes, making this rendition just as good, if not a little less compelling than the original. When sports games deliver the same thing year after year, fans tend to get upset. When sports games deliver a worse product after what had already been a subpar year in which EA officially launched its killer perennial franchise with NHL 94, you don’t have any fans. Without a following of any kind or any interest garnered since its release a mere decade and a half ago, it’s pretty clear that Jaleco Entertainment was trying to milk whatever was left from their average NES outing, without doing much to really improve any key area.

3 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in July 2007. Get in touch on Twitter @Calvin_Kemph.

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