We know that NHL intends to return to play and what format it will be. We don’t know if and when it will happen. In connection with New Jersey Devil, the next most important date is June 26, when the NHL 2020 Draft Lottery phase will take place. Throughout the SB Nation hockey blog collection, there are theme weeks to help pass the time because our sports keep on pausing. This week’s theme is something I want to say: video games.
Game is one of my past. I have played many of them as children, as teenagers, as young adults, and to this day. Anyway, I play Eastside Hockey Manager for this site. For this week’s theme, I want to discuss past hockey games that may have passed the historical gap. The thing about nostalgia is that it is usually represented by the prominent game (or music or film or whatever) of that era. If I bring up hockey games from the 1980s, then Blades of Steel or Ice Hockey for NES will likely appear. As it should be; they were great games for their time and Blades of Steel survived very well even today. However, there was a game in the late 1980s that stood out to me even though it wasn’t as popular or well remembered as the game was. This game is FaceOff! for PC.
Face up!, don’t be confused with Face Off (a 1988 arcade game by Namco, and also 1989 game for Amiga and Atari published by Anco) or Face-Off (a 1991 game for Amiga and Atari by Krisalis Software and also 1976 pong style game for TV) initially came out in 1987 for Commodore 64 and 1989 for DOS. I don’t have Commodore 64, so I play this game on DOS. Developed by MindSpan Technology Corp and published by Gamestar, this is a game that seems to be all about fighting. The cover has two players in flashy jerseys that are throwing hands at each other. The title screen has the player removing an old-style goalkeeper mask to reveal bruised eyes, a mouth missing two upper front teeth, and a grimacing face. The advertisement for the game has a distinctive line about going fighting and breaking hockey games. The game itself is much more than that.
The easiest way I can describe is the more realistic Blades of Steel. Which is a bit strange since the first version of FaceOff! came out in 1987 and The arcade version of Blades of Steel came out in October 1987. This game is played from a side view. Similar to Blades of Steel, fights will often occur in their own settings with music and two throwing dudes with different controls to block, throw high blows, or throw body blows. The loser will go to the penalty box. However, that’s where the similarities really end.
With the battle itself, FaceOff! has a little more going on in it. The game will tell you the names of players who fight with one of those who have a generic line about it. In some fights, you can jump on fallen opponents to give him more business. And the game will arbitrarily summon penalties for those who lose the fight, such as charging or hooking not just. This will lead to a strength game, which will be adjusted according to length based on how long you set the period to last.
Yes, you do have control over how long the game will play. DOS version of FaceOff! has more options for adjustment compared to other hockey games at the time. (Commodore 64 versions have some but not all of these options.) If you want to have a one minute or three minute period, then you can do it. If you want a full 20 minutes, you can do that too. If you want to play with one skater and goalkeeper, three skaters and goalkeepers or five traditional skaters and goalkeepers, then you can do it. There are a number of adjustments you can make to game speed. You can change the rules slightly if you are interrupted by mistakes and icing or play without rules at all. By the way, this game has rules for offside and icing, which certainly adds to the realism that games can offer. If you don’t want to fight, you can turn everything off. Finally, you can decide whether you want Shot-Cam to turn on or not.
Regardless of how the game is marketed, Shot-Cam is a feature that determines FaceOff! A number of games published by GameStar, the Activision branch that focuses on sports in the 1980s, have one or two features that really set it apart. For example, their GFL Championship Football game had a first-person play way quarterback before NFL2K5 was conceived. For FaceOff !, it is Shot-Cam. When you end up with a slap, the game will be cut into only shooters and goalkeepers. Players can use number buttons or joysticks to aim their shots at certain parts of the net if they shoot. If you choose the option to control your team keeper on Shot-Cam, then you can move the goalkeeper to the place you think you will shoot. Instead of moving arrows in the Blades of Steel or just having to guess, players have more control over their shots. That’s an interesting concept.
Unfortunately, this feature also has a problem. This will only happen with a slap. Like Blades of Steel, most of the shots are slaps. But wrists or photos are not included. And sometimes you will take a slap and there will be no Shot-Cam. I don’t know if that’s the way the game states the shot is impossible to score so it’s not worth the effort or anything. But annoying to have features that are not always reliable. A bigger problem in this view. If your PC is not very strong, then this causes a real delay between deciding to shoot and actually shooting. Even worse, the game never stops for this shot. The computer (or your human opponents if they are lucky) can still examine you or pick up pieces when you shoot. You cannot see them coming; they are not in the Shot-Cam display. This view is only shooters and goalkeepers. If there is traffic in front of the goalkeeper, then they are not there when you shoot with Shot-Cam but that’s when the game returns to normal view. You can turn off Shot-Cam if you feel sick. It is said that the developer at MindSpan made an optional Shot-Cam, even though it was a feature intended to make this game stand out from the rest. Of course, if you shoot a chip without Shot-Cam, then I can’t tell you how you will control where it goes. Let’s just say you are able to do it. At least the arrows in Blades of Steel give players direction.
It’s a shame because FaceOff! have more things happening than that. It may not be as visually impressive as the Blades of Steel or Shot-Cam style battle system, but other aspects can be promoted. It was one of the first hockey games to change lines. (I am not sure if Mind Before the game, you can set three lines and you can make changes quickly in the game. More than that, you can make, save, and load the game. This gives players the choice to better control what the computer can do Inside and outside pieces. The DOS version of FaceOff! also has season and playoff modes besides exhibits. (C64 version only has exhibits and playoffs). Season modes, which I think are only for one season, give you access to trade, call players from minor league teams, retired players (!!), and even editing their names.While the players don’t seem to have their own attributes, they do have goals and assists listed so you can at least see who is the top scorer and who No. You can simulate the game and play it yourself.The playoff mode is similar, although only for a tournament to win
Stanley Cup GHL Title. All of these menus come with memorable music. At least I remember it well. Even so, this game is ahead of time in the hockey game genre where several games still come out where you can play only one game at a time or with a set of rules with several options for changing it.
There are still limits to the game. All games take place in the generic arena. Apart from the team, one side will wear red with blue pants and helmets and the other will wear neon green with blue pants and helmets. There is no way to adjust the uniform colors to make a different look. Face up! do not have an NHL or NHLPA license, so cities and countries are generally used for twenty teams (sorry Isles fans, no Long Island). You can be sure I played as a little New Jersey. While all players have names, there isn’t always an indication of who it is. There are no numbers on players in the game, let alone nameplates. Once again, I don’t remember any player who had the attributes that it would be cosmetic, but still, it stands out as something that would not really fly with gamers today who are looking for hockey games.
The biggest problem is the speed. Even if you increase the speed of the game, it doesn’t have the same frenetic energy from Blades of Steel or Ice Hockey at NES. The games are fast paced and the running control with it makes it perfect for picking them up and playing. Not so with FaceOff! Although you can speed up options by simply choosing “Look OK to me” quickly, the game itself isn’t fast enough. Shot-Cam slows things down. The game must be loaded before and after the fight. The celebration after the goals scored are not so fast. Control is not always responsive. And if your PC is not so powerful in the DOS days, this loading screen will need enough time to break the actual action in the game. If you want an arcade style hockey game to play with your friends, then FaceOff! only works if no one has a NES and they are willing to deal with a PC. Even then, Blades of Steel was transported to DOS in 1990. If you want a more similar experience, then Wayne Gretzky Hockey is probably your choice. (The series will get their own post this weekend.) If you want the game to straddle both ends of the sports-game spectrum, then this will be appropriate. It was lost when Electronic Arts changed the game in the 1990s.
It all states, I remember FaceOff! pretty good. That was one of the first hockey games I have ever played. While it doesn’t run fast and there are problems with and without Shot-Cam, it does a number of things that hockey games often don’t do at the time. Being able to create guidebooks, play through seasons or playoff tournaments with series lengths, change lines in the game, and adjust the game in various ways are all the features that we just took for granted in hockey games from the early 1990s onwards. If you still want the fighting features like arcade or Shot-Cam, then the game does provide it. Does that give me the younger version of a couple of hours of fun? Yes
Would I recommend going back there today? Not really. The NHL games by EA really do this hybrid-arcade style simulation perfectly. If you want an arcade style game from the 1980s, then again, Blades of Steel and Ice Hockey at NES is your best choice. It might be worth a try just to see what it feels like, but you can get the same experience by watching someone play it. Like in this YouTube video (Aside: There are scenes of people just playing games without comments. Respect them for playing the game as it is.)
What happened to MindSpan and Gamestar? Per MobyGamesThis is the first game released by MindSpan. It was also their only hockey match. They did many different things before becoming developers of the Hardball series in the 1990s. I don’t think they are active anymore; Their latest release was Hardball 6: 2000 Edition in 1999. Gamestar, again, was a branch of Activision which focused on sports in the 1980s. per MobyGames. Literally in a decade; Their first game that was published was Steel Buggies in 1982 and the last release published was Motocross in 1989. Gamestar did a lot of different sports, but FaceOff! is their only hockey release.
Do you play FaceOff! back in the day? If so, what do you remember from him? Did you achieve anything in it? Did you miss a copyright protection test that requires you to read from a manual? (Answer: No.) Please leave your comments in the comments. Thank you for reading.
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