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Hockey! / Soccer! (Odyssey^2, 1979)



Hockey! / Soccer! (Odyssey^2, 1979) :) / :| 7160


Okay, I made a mistake. I think I said that I was going to talk about Hockey! / Soccer! after my first Odyssey1979 entry and I didn't and then I forgot about it. Sorry about that.


Let's start with Soccer! This title isn't deserving of its exclaimation point. The action is a little slow and a little awkward. The soccer ball doesn't go very far when we kick it, even when using the action button. You can only control the keeper plus one soccer player at the same time. While you're controlling the one player, the other players stumble around like the robots in War of Nerves!. The way to play this game is close to how one might play real soccer in that it's better to pass the ball than to try to run it down the field with a single player. Regardless of the control management scheme, however, Soccer! just plain feels slow. Now, I know I was just complaining about Thunderball! being too fast but there's a happy medium on this system and I'm certain I'll find it.


Hockey! is a lot closer to that happy medium. Maybe the players on the ice move faster, or maybe passing seems to be handled a little better, but whatever the reason, both my son and I had a much better time playing Hockey! than Soccer!.


Soccer! consists of two five-minute halves, while Hockey! consists of three five-minute periods. Amazingly, Soccer! feels like it takes longer to play than Hockey! does.


It is nice to play these games with participants in the shape of human beings instead of paddles. Off the top of my head, I can only come up with previous versions of Hockey on the Magnavox Odyssey and the Fairchild Channel F. I can't come up with any previous iterations of Soccer released in the US. So, what we have here are the best versions Hockey or Soccer to be found on any home system in 1979.


Next entry will be Sky Diver for the Atari VCS. I mean it this time.

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Played this one tonight. Soccer seems truly dreadful, clunky and perpetually gridlocked, with very little rhyme or reason to the control. The following quote from the manual is very telling:


"Players can block each other if they make body contact and will become immobilized. If several players jam and are unable to move, use both joysticks to separate them. If this does not unlock the jam, press RESET and start a new game."


Worse yet, you can score from the side of the goal -- quite a nasty bug! We quit Hockey after a minute fearing it was more of the same, but perhaps we'll give it another chance now. At least the above warning doesn't fully apply -- the Hockey section of the manual has a similar quote to the above, but without the third line. :)

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The jamming issue happens in both games. It's really annoying. Even playing single-player, leaving the 2nd team with its controller untouched, it was a pain to score goals. That shows just how much the player jamming is an issue in these two games.


One cool thing though is that when you shoot, the ball/puck wont stop until you release the action button. I had more fun once I started doing long shots instead of running with the ball. In hockey this feature is taken to the extreme that the puck will *never* stop as it's never out of play, ricocheting on the sides ad eternum.

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