There are plenty of hockey games out there, and despite the title, Sports Head Ice Hockey is not one of them. SHIH is a silly 2D version of video game foosball packed into a nice, easily accessible, and plenty challenging browser game format. The game is easy to pick up and play, the computer AI is relentlessly unforgiving, and despite the game’s comedic looks it actually has enough difficulty and depth of gameplay to make even core gamers work hard for a win. If you like challenging mini games or have a itch to scratch on those digital whack it type games, then this quirky Big Head Ice Hockey is certainly worth a try.
This 2D game is anything but an ice Hockey simulator. Sure, the characters are standing on an ice arena trying to get a puck sent into a net (and they use hockey sticks), but that is pretty much all the similarities that you will get from the two games. Sports Head is actually a lot more like foosball than anything else (and even then, this one is not a top down game, but a side-view title). But there is not much point trying to say what Sports Head Ice Hockey is like, so let us just go straight and tell you what it is.
2 Players, 1 Puck
The game allows players to choose an avatar and then select an opponent to defeat. While the AI is ordered in the level of difficulty (well, sort of anyway), all of them seem pretty skilled and relentless. Do not expect to get off easily on your first match, the enemy AI is hellbent on scoring and preventing you from making goals, so do not hold back one bit.
Anyway, once you are in the game, the mechanics become pretty obvious. You defend your goal while the enemy defends theirs. In the meanwhile, the two of you try to outmaneuver each other to control the puck and score a goal. The puck follows a very chaotic notion of how physics works (and more in the lines of crazy game engine code), so do not expect to be plotting out trajectories as the game is a lot more on adapting to unpredictable circumstance than anything else.
Turning the Tides
The straightforward gameplay mechanics may make it seem like SHIH is an easy game. But there are plenty of factors that count into play. The first is that the entire stage is walled off –from the sides to a relatively low ceiling. It is pretty likely that the puck will be bouncing off these walls a lot and you will be chasing it around the stage along with your opponent.
Adding more to the mayhem is the presence of power ups: from bombs, to bolts of lightning, to freeze abilities, and much more. There is really not much in terms of strategies in getting power ups –to activate them, the puck as to pass through them, your sports head avatar cannot trigger them manually. As if aiming for the goal net was not hard enough, intentionally going for power ups is much more difficult.
Looks Can Be Deceiving
One of the nicest things about Sports Head Ice Hockey is that it loads up pretty fast, thanks mostly to the simple visual style of the in-game graphics. That is not to say that the artwork is bad or lacking, but do not expect to see deep textures and such. Also, the animations are pretty good. While there is a bit of skipping at times, for the most part, the frames load up quite nicely.
Since the game’s visuals are quite basic and cartoony, it would be easy to dismiss it a very casual title. The use of bright contrasting colors, thick lines, and the silly floating heads make it seem like the developers were trying to lull players into a false sense of security. In any case, the first couple of rounds will always be a wake-up call for any player expecting an easy game to play –and that is one welcome surprised for many.
The Verdict: No Body Checks for Floating Heads
We love the game, though there is something to be said about the incredibly difficult AI opponent. Players who are a lot less patient may find the learning curve of this game to be particularly trying, if not outright impossible to deal with. Still, with a little bit of perseverance (or a lot, depending on how skilled you are), Sports Head Ice Hockey is an incredibly playable game with plenty of gameplay hours to offer (repetitiveness feels a lot less noticeable when you have a game that constantly challenges you at every turn. The best part about all this is that if you enjoyed this game, then you should also keep an eye out for other releases of the Sports Head team.