Punch drunk love.
There is something truly elegant about simplicity, when times were easier and just more straightforward. It feels like developer V7 Entertainment is looking to capture that for the sport of hockey with its latest game. Originally released as ‘Old Time Hockey’ on PC and PS4, Bush League Hockey has finally arrived on Xbox One, bringing with it the patches and fixes its counterparts have received over the past few months. It is a simpler game that hangs its hat on the classic 70’s era of the sport.
The story mode in Bush Hockey League reminds me of an extended tutorial. It teaches the advanced aspects of the game over the course of the season. The downside is that I had to complete all objectives before moving on. So if I failed even one of them, I had to play the entire game over. While I appreciate the addition of a true single player mode, I wish it wasn’t so punishing. I gave up halfway through and focused more on what this game really excels at.
Platforms: XB1 (reviewed), PS4, PC
Price I’d Pay: $9.99
Playing against friends brings back memories of the classic Genesis NHL games. The fast-paced action lends itself well to competitive play. The game supports up to four players locally, and is a blast with friends. Having to unlock the advanced controls sucks, but with most mindless play sessions the standard options were more than sufficient.
There are plenty of control schemes outside advanced. There is the two button mode, which is best for those unfamiliar with how hockey works. Then there are the standard controls. There is also a ‘hold my beer’ scheme which is exactly what it sounds like. The trigger buttons on the opposite side of the controller are mapped to the sticks, meaning I had a free hand to enjoy a nice adult beverage. It is weird, but fits the mood of the game.
Visually the game nails the look. For better or worse it looks like a game in the 70’s era. Player colors bleed into each other and everything has a sort of pastel appearance. The music is absolutely incredible. Cheesy country tunes mixed with rock that feels straight out of a bar. It really sets the mood on so many levels.
Bush Hockey League is a game that seems perfect on the surface. Bring back simplistic hockey games that focused on arcade-style play. The bumbling story mode and lack of online play really hurt it. This game is best enjoyed in small doses with friends on a couch, which is not the ideal form of play anymore. Hitting Xbox One so late after it released on PC and during the busiest time of the year means most people will likely not even notice it came and went. Still, there is fun to be had.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.