The EA Sports NHL series has dominated the hockey video game market for years and has been the main sim for gamers if they want a puck fix. Old Time Hockey isn’t going to challenge NHL, but it does provide an alternative if you’re looking for something more arcadey and, well, violent.
If you’ve ever wanted to play a video game version of Slap Shot, then the fighting and violence you’ll find in Old Time Hockey will be for you.
Developed by V7 Entertainment, an independent Vancouver-based studio, Old Time Hockey will hit the Playstation Network and Steam on March 28, and Xbox One later this year.
Why did the developers go away from making a standard hockey arcade game and go with a more violent angle?
“Fighting in hockey is such an on-ice vigilantism. It has a true purpose to it in the sense that you’re using that to your advantage to make them not be as sharp on their feet,” V7 director Karthik Venkateshan told Puck Daddy this week. “Then we added the hockey elements to it and over time it just evolved into this nice little arcade experience where we felt this should be accessible to fans outside of NHL because it’s gotten complicated over the years and you don’t have casual fans as excited about it because they have to learn a ton of things before they can even enjoy the experience.”
There are 10 teams in the game from the U.S. and Canada with names that you might find in your nearest beer league or from some vintage minor league. They’re a part of the one- or two-player mode as well as story mode, where you control a team and try and guide them to the championship.
Schuylkill Hinto Brews – Pottsville, PA
Fort Edward Bluenosers – Windsor, NS
Long Island Rumrunners – Commack, NY
Quebec Voyous – Beauce, QC
Charlestown Stonemasons – Charlestown, MA
Warroad Ice Anglers – Warroad, MN
Cascadia Timber Cats – Seattle, WA
Portage Lake Widowmakers – Houghton, MI
Moose Jaw Farmhands – Moose Jaw, SK
Cobalt Silvers – Cobalt, ON
Inspired by classic games like of Mutant League Hockey and Blades of Steel, Old Time Hockey goes heavy with the 1970s feel, from stand-up goalies to old school nets to stick fights.
And the physical nature of play does have an affect on the game. You can injure opponents during stick fights and if they’re hurt enough, they’re gone from the game. In some cases, if you injure enough opponents they’ll be forced to forfeit. By winning fights, you’ll cause your opponent to get fatigued, leading to sloppy play for the rest of the game, something that you can take advantage of to win.
“That was one of the biggest reasons why we started working on a hockey game because we felt like in NHL you have fighting, but that doesn’t really affect or slow down the other team. You don’t really get the same sense of how it was played back then,” Venkateshan said.
We spoke to Venkateshan this week about what to expect from the game, including just what exactly is “Beer Mode.”
Q. What was the idea behind making this type of hockey game now?
VENKATESHAN: “Well, a combination of things. The game originally started out with a hypothesis and then you think ‘well this is what is going to be fun and what fans would like,’ because for the longest time we’ve only had NHL 3-on-3 Arcade, I think was the last one.
“For us it was more like the beginning when we came up with this was really about the fighting aspect of it, in the sense we felt like hockey fighting and aggressive hockey is very underrepresented in the sim world. More not so because EA Sports wants to do it that way, I think it’s just the nature of how the league has cleaned up the rough side of things and has tried to make it more friendly to families.
“For us it was more like ‘I don’t get to feel or play like the Broad Street Bullies from the ‘70s and we were like can we do something where if we can play hockey but you don’t have to play with skill where you can just intimidate your opponent by being extremely aggressive and try to see if you can win hockey games that way.”
What can we expect from the story mode experience?
“There are goals to meet throughout the season in terms of story objectives and real hockey objectives. But in terms of transactions, they’re scripted. There is the GM mode but it’s a scripted GM mode, so that’s the story mode, basically. You start off with the calendar and you take hold of this team, much like how you would see in Slap Shot with the Charlestown Chiefs, except we’ve got the Hinton Blues who are down on their luck. It’s like any familiar sports movie where it’s kind of a rags-to-riches story. You take a humble team in this fictitious Bush Hockey League and they’re just down on their luck because of a number of things and you have to basically follow their story line and how the general manager of this team figures out a way to keep this team surviving and win the championship, which they didn’t really think was possible.”
What kind of sound is in the game? Will there be a play-by-play call or just music during gameplay?
“There is a play-by-play [caller]. We have a local sports commentator here who was happy enough to help out [Matt Baker], so it’s going to be his voice, which would be in all of the game. We’ve got some cool music that’s inspired from organ arena music. … [It’s] all the stuff that you hear in the stadium, except it’s recorded by a popular artist from the ‘70s, ‘80s era.”
Will users find post-launch support?
“We are thinking of doing at least one downloadable pack, like where could do 10 more teams, which would be the farm teams of the Bush League, if you could even imagine that. So we’ve left clues all over the story mode and the trading cards and everything as to where these guys get traded from or how did they get picked up from the farm team. We’ve got 10 teams in mind already that we’re happy with and those will focus on small towns and cities that is otherwise not represented, such as Omaha and Sherbrooke and Lewiston in Maine, as well. We would like to do that, if possible, in a downloadable pack.”
Finally, tell me about “Beer Mode.” This sounds very interesting.
“It’s hard. Because if you’re going to enjoy that with a nice beverage it’s going to really make things difficult for you, but I guess that’s the fun element of it, right? Every time you get scored on you’ve got to take a sip of your favorite beverage.
“So let’s take the PS4 controller. You have the left thumb stick and you have the right thumb stick, so we basically divided the controller into two halves. If you like to play with your left hand and hold your drink in the other hand, then you play on your left hand or you can switch it up, too. The way we do it is we mapped the two-button scheme onto the trigger, so the left button and the left trigger – L1 and L2. You use L2 to pass and L1 to wind and shoot and then thumb stick to move, and that’s all you really need.”
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