Reviewed: February 6, 2009
Released: February 5, 2009
3 on 3 NHL Arcade Hockey is EA's first dip into the shallow end of the pool for 2009. Available for download from the PlayStation Store for $9.99, NHL Arcade is a basic hockey game with power-ups and the NHL league and NHLPA players license thrown in for good measure. If you chose to plunk down your $10 for 3 on 3 NHL Arcade Hockey, don't get your expectations too high. Actually it's best that you don't have any expectations at all because this game will fail to meet even the most basic desires of any hockey fan.
When you start up the game you get the usual sequence of credit screens including a nice screen with all the NHL team logos. Enjoy them while they are up there because that's the last you will see of them. Yes folks, NHL Arcade doesn't include a single NHL team and only a few NHL players.
When you go to the Play Now screen you pick between the Red or the Blue teams. You can play up to 6 people at once. You then pick your starting lineups of 3 skaters and 1 goalie. But again, don't get too excited about playing with you favorite NHL player. There are only 36 skaters to chose from rated strong, fast, or all-around. If that wasn't bad enough, there are only 4 goalies to pick. Maybe this game should have been called “Castrated NHL Arcade”. Sadly, there are more EA Canada staff members who worked on this game than NHL players in the game.
Next you get to pick your options. Skill levels are “easy” and “hard”. Camera angles include “action” and “ice”. You can also pick the game speed of “slow”, “medium”, or “fast”. The number of goals you play to ranges from 5 to 20. Lastly, you can turn the power-ups on or off. There are a handful of settings for audio and visual as well.
Once the game gets going a puck drops from the rafters and you go at it 3 on 3. This game is basically about how many power-ups you can get. The power-ups will greatly determine if you have a chance to win. Power-ups include:
Oddly enough, the game actually keeps stats in 10 categories from shots to passing percentage. It also keeps individual player states. Why anyone would be interested in stats in arcade game of this kind is a mystery.
Online mode is fun for a little less predictable opponents. But as in most games, once you figure you the weak points like where the puck will be dropped after a goal and how to knock the goalie down, it's easy to take care of business. There are ranked and unranked matches available.
It's really hard to compare an “arcade” game like this to a “simulation” game like NHL 09. About the only similarity is they are both hockey games. Graphics are very much like an arcade game should be. Players are exaggerated versions of the real thing with big heads and varied skills. There are no fan, referees or zamboni's, just the players on ice.
Sound is pretty much what you would expect from an arcade hockey game with some really annoying additions. For some reason EA chose to put sounds when you move or select menu options. “Blork” and “whooosshhh” will almost instantly have you moving to the setting screen so you can turn off the sound effects.
There are no announcers aside from the stadium guy yelling if you score or get a power-up. He's kind of fun, but again will likely get old all too quickly. There are other sounds when you hit the goalpost and other players.
3 on 3 NHL Arcade Hockey has very little of value or desire to replay. The only reason you might play this again would be to get all the trophies. There are 13 trophies available ranging from simply playing a game online to scoring a goal with a trick move. Most of them are fairly easy, but the most difficult would probably be playing a ranked game with 3 users on your side. It's not that the trophy is that difficult, but finding 3 other people to play with is an issue.
I guess I have my answer to 'what are the mini-games in NHL 09'. This is basically a cheap knockoff of a Wii game. It could have easily been included in EA's NHL 09 game as the “pond hockey” mini-game. That way NHL 09 would have the casual fan and hardcore fan base covered.
My suggestion is to go visit your local video game store. A discounted version of NHL 2K8 will give you 15 mini-game that are more fun but with the real NHL players and teams for about the same price... and it'll be a lot more fun.