It seems that game developer Mousebreaker has its hand in a number of different pies. Games that cover everything from Morris dancing to car parking through to more traditional sports in the hugely popular Sports Heads series of games. You'll find a whole roster of different sports to try out in this particular Sports Heads series, with football being only one of many of the different sports that the series has applied its own unique twist to. This distinctive large-headed format has also made its way to the ice rink in Sports Heads: Ice Hockey, a game that promises to take the sport that is most associated with having strong links to Canada and breaking this geographical restriction so that anyone in any country can enjoy a bit of light-hearted and fast-paced hockey action without having to bother with actually learning the rules of the sport.
If you are a newcomer to the long-running Sports Heads series, they are essentially a group of games that possess an almost identical format, though the particular sporting theme changes according to the game you are playing. In this instance, ice hockey is the sport of choice, reflected in the details of the game such as the players that you will face, and also the fact that instead of having a foot to kick a ball around as is the case in Sports Heads Football, or a basketball like in Sports Heads Basketball Championship, you have a hockey stick and a puck dropped from the middle of the screen. The format of the gameplay itself is typical of the sports heads games, pitting you against a single CPU-controlled player in a small, enclosed arena with a goal on each end and the aim of scoring as many goals whilst conceding as few as you can manage, all within a very short time frame of around 60 seconds.
The short-match format and the general setup make for an extremely fast-paced game, made more frantic by the inclusion of power-ups (which are also typical of the Sports Heads series). In fact, the power-ups here are identical to most of the other Sports Heads games, including items like speed boost, high jumps, gigantic goal (making it easier to score against your opponent), player growth, and opponent stick loss. Conversely, there are negative power-ups that have the opposite effect when collected accidentally, with ones that shrink your player, make you lose your own stick, and freeze you in place for example. This set of power-ups makes the gameplay much faster-paced and more instantly-entertaining than other long-game football titles such as New Star Soccer which are more career-focused than single-match based.
There is a lot of merit to be found in Sports Heads 3 Ice Hockey with light-hearted and mildly humorous take on the sport as well, a quality that is reflected in the naming of some of the hockey players that you will go up against in the game's championship-like progression. You begin against easier players like Guy the Flower and Mark Messiah (a play on the name of the real-life hockey player, Mark Messier) and move on to much more difficult opponents like Geordie Howay and Wayne Great-Ski. As you can see. the names aren't necessarily hockey related, but the humour still carries. The unique giant-head format which plays more like a frantic game of tennis than a hockey match also makes the game somewhat memorable. Though console games like Fifa are obviously better in terms of substance and quality, this kind of fast-paced, casual gaming just isn't found in console-based titles.
In terms of the game's design and graphics, there is a definite sense of professional polish in every section of the game, if a little simplistic and rudimentary in parts. It's a shame that Mousebreaker haven't bothered updating the design of the Sports Heads series in any noticeable way, but this is probably part of the whole "if it isn't broke, don't fix it" mentality. Still, it would be nice to see a bit of a revamp in the design/graphics element of the game, and perhaps some different music in the background as well. The gameplay remains entertaining and frustrating in equal parts however, which is only a good thing in a fast-paced arcade-style game like this. Sports Heads Ice Hockey may be one of the most instantly-gratifying hockey games out there and fits very well into the Sports Heads Games series.