Every week, I like to look into the “Newly discovered games” thread in our forums to discover new Windows Phone games to play. Our dedicated readers seek out new game releases and share their Store links. Often the games are great - such as Magic Realms, which also has its own forum thread. But other times somebody will share a game that’s not so hot; those are the breaks.
One such game I discovered there is Hockey Fight (available in Pro and Lite versions) from Ratrod Studio. Ratrod has released some very impressive games on Windows Phone like the Drift Mania series and the Skateboard Party series. They have also released Hockey Fight. The idea of a game dedicated to hockey fights is fairly promising, but Hockey Fight lacks some of the polish and features we’ve come to expect from Ratrod games (including Moga controller support, sadly). Read on for our full review.
Hockey Fight’s menus play a lyrical song (from someone named Avery Watts) that sounds similar to the music of Linkin Park. It’s loud and really obnoxious though, especially after more than five seconds. You’ll probably want to turn it off in the options screen. From there you can also toggle blood and the display of hitboxes.
The actual game offers two modes of play: Tournament and Quick Play. Hockey Fight has no multiplayer mode, unfortunately. Quick Play simply allows you to engage in one-off fights against the computer opponent of your choosing. Only characters that have been unlocked in Tournament mode are available in Quick Play, however.
Boxing on ice
Tournament is the meat of the game, then. It consists of a series of fights against AI opponents. After winning a fight, you’ll receive points to spend on upgrades for your brawler. There are four stats to boost: attack, defense, speed, and stamina.
You start out with one character to choose from: The Prodigy. Everyone else unlocks after you beat them. All of the characters have these goofy, generic names. The Magnet, The Storm, The Brawler – they’re as uncreative as possible. I’m guessing the developers used the names as placeholders and then forgot to change them before releasing the game. Also, several of the characters are racial stereotypes. Classy!
After selecting your character and toggling between a scant two jersey colors, it’s off to the ice. Battles begin with a decent fly-in towards the ice. The background is 3D with a 2D crowd, as with many older sports games. The game would look pretty good if not for the hideous character models. All of the fighters are extremely boxy looking, looking like late-nineties 3D models instead of modern ones.
Fists of fury
As for the fighting itself, it’s casual but not bad. You don’t control your boxyman’s movement, just his attacks and blocking. Four buttons sit at the four corners of the screen, each representing a left or right fist and a high or low punch. By alternating between the different punches, you can string together basic 3-5 hit combos. Tapping both of the bottom buttons at the same time makes you block.
Just flailing at the attack buttons will get you through a lot of fights. But flail too much without blocking and you’ll deplete your fighter’s stamina meter. Stamina refills over time, and you can beef up your fighter’s stamina stat to give yourself more to work with.
Besides life and stamina meters, the player also has a short special punch meter that fills as combo hits are landed. Get the special meter filled up and you can perform a couple of different uppercut punches. Swipe down on the left side for one, and swipe up on the right side for the other. The uppercuts do little to address the fighting’s lack of flair. A game like this needs a sense of humor and some over-the-top moves in order to maintain player interest.
As you pound on your opponent, an announcer provides play-by-play narration for the fight. The announcer is just as bad as the rest of the game, though. He speaks slowly, has too few unique phrases to say, and just calls everybody “this guy” or “this fighter.” At least you can turn him off if you find him annoying… I prefer to play Hockey Fight in silence, really.
Hockey Fight seems to be an older title that Ratrod just got around to porting over to Windows Phone. Their newer games certainly look a lot better and tend to offer more robust experiences. This particular game would have been fine visually on Windows Phone 7, but it’s downright ugly for a modern-era smartphone game.
Not that visuals are everything! But a game at least needs a strong core mechanic and some personality. Hockey Fight has neither. The boxing is boring and lacking in style. Considering the inherent silliness of the game concept, some exaggerated moves and a sense of humor would have really picked things up. There just isn’t enough game here to keep players interested for long.
- Hockey Fight Pro – Windows Phone 8 – 29 MB – $0.99 – Store Link
- Hockey Fight Lite – Windows Phone 8 – 29 MB – Free – Store Link