Bush Hockey League, formerly known as Old School Hockey is an Ice Hockey game developed and published by V7 Entertainment and is set in the 1970s that takes heavy inspiration from the movie “Slap Shot” and ice hockey games of the past. Ice hockey in general has always interested me because of the very nature of the game. Ice Hockey games have interested me more-so. Not to mention the Mighty Ducks cartoon which really got me interested in the sport. After that it was NHL games that came into my life and cemented themselves as one of my favourite sports game ever. NHL Hitz being one of the more played ones.
With all of this said, I was quite excited to get my hands on Bush Hockey League to maybe have an experience similar to the ones that I had with the arcade ice hockey games of the past. That was sadly not the case.
Bush Hockey League is set in the 70s and features 10 different teams with players that are all made up. There’s a lot of references to the characters and teams of the movie Slap Shot though. The game has a story mode which has you play as an underperforming team in the titular Bush Hockey League and is your journey of making the rise to the top. You start off as a team with no motivation and even without certain moves like hitting a slap shot or checking your opponent. You gather these slowly and steadily as your team progresses in the story. It was quite difficult in the start since I felt like I was being handicapped but once you get all the moves and abilities, it does get much easier. Once you finish the story mode you unlock new season plus which allows you to choose from whichever team you want to play the mode as.
Visually, I found the game quite unappealing. It goes for this cel-shaded effect that when done right tends to look great but in this case doesn’t really do the overall look a favour. The game ends up looking like a game from the PS2/PS3 era and just feels really bland. That’s not to mention the bugs and glitches in the game that still plague the game even after the updates. From players getting stick in the wall, players not hitting each other during fights to a goal actually being counted when the puck clipped through the back of the goal.
The goalkeeper AI is also frustrating as you have no control over it, so when the keeper does get the ball he just passes it to one side or the other. The commentary is alright but gets stale once you play a couple of matches, so much so that you’ll have the lines memorized by the time you’re done playing the story mode. After one point it just gets annoying to listen to.
Bush Hockey League is an average arcade ice-hockey game which can provide a few moments of fun but otherwise was a let down to due to its shortcomings. I really wouldn’t recommend this unless you have a specific itch to scratch, otherwise you could just go play any of the fantastic older ice-hockey titles.