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Article #45 (79 is last):
From: ap803@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Robert Jung)
Subject: LYNX: Hockey
Posted-By: xx004 (aa399 - Len Stys)
Reply-To: ap803@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Robert Jung)
Date: Sat Jun 27 10:07:21 1992

  So there I am, almost done with the HOCKEY review, and _another_ two games
come in! Three games in two days? This is wild! Not that I'm complaining,
mind you...

1-2 players, horizontal & vertical game
Atari Corp., for the Atari Lynx
Stereo? No

    It's a cold fact that the current Lynx library is short in sports titles.
This trend is fading, however, first with AWESOME GOLF and CHECKERED FLAG, and
now with HOCKEY for the Lynx. As the title indicates, this is a portable
version of the winter sport, and an unofficial translation of MARIO LEMIEUX
HOCKEY on the Sega Genesis. The action is seen from a mid-court arena seat, as
one or two players lead a team of five skaters and a goalie, trying to score
as many points as possible over three periods. All of the familliar elements
of hockey are here: face-offs, tiebreaker shootouts, two-minute penalties, and
the obligatory fistfights.

    Lynx HOCKEY contains enough statistics and options to satisfy most
players. Periods can be 5 or 10 minutes long, the computer opponent can be set
to easy or normal play, and rules, penalties, and fights can be toggled on or
off. There's a league of 22 teams, with each team rated in abilities like
skating speed, defense, and goalie skills. The default settings are modelled
after the 1991 NHL, but you can rearrange or randomize the league, and an
eight-letter password keeps track of the new ratings. If you're not in the
mood for a long game, you can practice the fighting and shoot-out sequences.

    The actual hockey contest is a one-game bout, with no provisions for
season play or a tournament. While you control one player, the computer
handles the rest of the team reasonably well. Player selection (with OPTION 1)
and puck-passing (with button B) are managable, but shooting for the goal is
quirky. To shoot, button A is tapped once or twice and aimed with the control
pad, a system that's more complicated than it sounds. Scoring is possible, but
you'll need some time to get the hang of the system.

    Gameplay is brisk, though you might briefly lose track of the puck in a
crowd. The computer opposition plays very well even on the easy setting, and
tends to rush your goalie for a quick score. When enabled, fights can occur
fairly often, but you can choose not to enter them. Common hockey penalties
are supported, such as offsides and the two-line pass, but the loser of a
fight is punished, which is inaccurate. Several screens of game stats are
available any time, covering trivia like "number of successful checks" and "%
of time on offense". The shoot-out sequence at the end of a tied game is worth
mentioning: the Lynx is held vertically as each team takes four shots at the
opponent's goal.

    The graphics of HOCKEY are reasonable. The best scenes are before the game
starts, with player poses and digitized scenes shown while selecting teams and
options. The rink holds small but recognizable players, a referee, and an even
smaller but workable puck, along with game scores and clocks. The scrolling is
a little jumpy and could have been better, and the near-digitized fights are
detracted with cartoon-like special effects.

    In contrast, sounds offer little worth mentioning. Aside from a stirring
title theme, music consists of short, simplish renditions of the American and
Canadian National Anthems, and assorted rally tunes. The game is often quiet,
with bland effects, simple sirens and whistles, and an unnatural silence from
the crowd.

    HOCKEY on the Lynx is a good, but not great, video version of the sport.
A few minor flaws, like the quirky shooting controls and the lackluster sound
effects, keep it from doing better. Still, for Lynx sports fans who can bear
its weak points, this card is a good buy.

                GAMEPLAY:        7
                GRAPHICS:        7
                SOUND:           5.5
                OVERALL:         7

  Rating values  10 - 8   Great! This game can't get much better.
                  7 - 5   Good. Average game, could be improved.
                  4 - 2   Poor. For devotees only.
                      1   Ick. Shoot it.


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