I can’t wait to start following the NHL playoffs.  The Penguins haven’t had as good a season as they did last year, but they did make it into the postseason.  Their likely opponents in the first round are the hated cross-state Philadelphia Flyers.

I’m also excited to see what the Columbus Blue Jackets are able to do in their first  ever trip to the playoffs.

More immediately, the Redhawks of Miami University are about to face off against Boston University with a chance to win the first NCAA Championship in school history.

In honor of all this, I’d like to present a few minutes of the greatest hockey video game ever, Ice Hockey for the NES:

Cool things about this game:

  • It lets you play as one of six international hockey powers:  the United States, Sweden, Poland, Canada, the Soviet Union, and Czechoslovakia.  This video lets you watch a game between two countries that no longer exist!
  • This game has some of the happiest music ever.  : )
  • Choosing your team involves a lot of strategy.  Just like in real life, there are three types of hockey players– skinny, medium-sized, and fat.  Skinny hockey players can skate fast but can’t shoot with much power.  Fat hockey players can shoot the puck really hard, but they don’t skate fast.  Medium-sized hockey players are a nice balance of skills.  The skinny guys are better at faceoffs (I think), while the fat guys will always get the best of a collision.
  • It’s simple to pick up how to control your hockey team in just a few minutes of playing.  On offense, you always control the player with the puck.  Use A to pass and B to shoot.  (Hold down B for a few seconds to fire the puck really hard.)  On defense, use A to knock the puck away and B to switch players.
  • The only tricky part is remembering that you also control the goalie, so you need to remember to look at where he is whenever the other team attacks.
  • If the game is still tied after overtime, you have a shootout to decide the winner.  If it’s still tied after that, you play another overtime with no goalies.

You don’t have to watch the whole video, but try not to miss:

  • The fight at 1:07 and a player being sent to the penalty box.
  • The furious end to the second period at 6:40.
  • The Zambonis getting the ice ready for the third period at 7:15.

Definitely a fun game that you can just pick up and play with a friend.  It manages to capture the essence of what makes ice hockey fun without getting complicated.  That’s why it’s my 17th favorite video game.  ; )

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