Wednesday, May 6, 2015

GameFAQS Review - Hat Trick (Arcade)

Fun for a while... but not much else.

This is sort of an odd thing because my first exposure to Hat Trick was not the original arcade game, but rather the odiously flawed conversion on the Atari 7800. To make a long story short, the game boasted choppy animation, flawed controls, and was basically outclassed by other hockey games available in 1987.

The original Hat Trick arcade game, which I did play once or twice during a road trip several years ago, is a far cry from that 7800 conversion by a considerable margin... which should come as no surprise considering an arcade board should be more capable than a home video game system.

GRAPHICS: The best aspect of this are the visuals of Hat Trick. Typically simple, yes, but the players and puck move about and animate rather smoothly, the red team is clearly colored red and not some strange shade of magenta, as a bit of an additional touch, you leave behind skate trails on the ice rink, as indicated by thin blue-white streaks.

And of course, there's the zamboni that pops up after each game to smooth out the ice. A nice touch. 6/10

SOUND: Sound wise, there's constant static noise that's supposed to be the cheering crowd. The sound effects are really nothing to cheer for; they're merely there, what musical cues are in the game are decent if brief... and... that's it. Not much else I could say in that department. It's all pretty average stuff. 4/10

GAMEPLAY: So for those who aren't familiar with Hat Trick, it's a pretty-straightforward game of one-on-one ice hockey... or two-on-two if you count the goaltenders. Hat Trick is just a quick round of hockey where the goal is to score more points than your opponent. Whoever has the most points at the end of a round wins and in the event of a tie, an overtime period of 20 seconds will take place for the game-winning goal to be scored. In any case, all games end the same way; with a nice little zamboni roaming around to resurface the ice rink for the next game... whenever that may be.

Controlling your player is a bit of a chore at times; more than trying to score a goal on your opponents net or trying to prevent him from scoring on you, you actually have to fight momentum as your player careens from one side of the rink to the other. Understandable, since this is ice hockey. And somehow the control feels less like a struggle here than the home port - and make no mistake, it's still a struggle, but not by much - that could also be due to the fact that the game moves about somewhat smoother than the 7800 offering. It's a bit more faster-paced in a way, but not necessarily speedy either.

Goaltending is somewhat of a tricky affair because he moves faster than the player and sometimes you forget that YOU have to control both at the same time. This was obviously long before the days of leaving the goaltending to the AI while you did the dirty work in the rink. Back in the early days of ice hockey video games, you had to pull double duty. 5/10

CHALLENGE: The computer AI isn't that terribly impressive, though; comprising simple tactics such as trying to steal the puck, getting to the loose puck before you do, and attempting to score a goal against you. That isn't to say it won't pose a challenge, because it can get difficult at first to get a groove going - mostly as a result of the less than slick controls - but once you master certain looping tactics, you'll trounce the computer in high-scoring games. This is one of those games where a human opponent is much preferable, but at the end of the day, it's only a couple minutes of a ice hockey game per coin and not much else to go by, so it's not going to kill much time unless you're really dying for a few more rounds. 4/10

OVERALL: Ultimately, if there was one word I can use to describe Hat Trick in any way, it would be "MEH." Mind you, given the choice between this arcade original and the Atari 7800 conversion, I would save my money up for a working arcade machine and the warehouse space to store it in because it's naturally superior to that Atari port, which apparently was done by monkeys... however, even with a smoother, colorful, slightly quicker version of Hat Trick that actually played a bit better than what I was used to before, it didn't take long for me to get bored with the game. It hasn't really aged all that well and the only real reason you'd want to revisit Hat Trick is purely out of nostalgia more than anything else.

And nostalgia can only get you so far... really, if I wanted an old game that emphasized player skill and reflexes in its purest form, I would go with PONG. And the sad thing is that PONG is still a fun game to play after all these decades. I can't say the same for Hat Trick. 5/10

No comments:

Post a Comment

Keep it real and keep it clean.