Family Glide Hockey Review
Posted by Corbie Dillard
Does Family Glide Hockey capture the fun and excitement of a real air hockey game?
Let's face it, there are some recreational games that lend themselves perfectly to the Wii Remote's motion controls. We've already seen such games as billiards, miniature golf, and even a table tennis release make use of these motion sensing capabilities with varying degrees of success. So how is it possible to take a game like air hockey -- which could be replicated so well using the Wii Remote -- and throw together a game that not only makes very little use of the Wii Remote's advanced control capabilities, but also fails to provide a decent control alternative in the process?
The Single and Versus modes are obviously the heart of the game. The gameplay is basically standard air hockey, with a few unique hindrances, depending on which area you're currently playing in. You'll also have access to two Super Shots, although they're not what you'd call terribly "super." As the puck bounces off the various walls of the table it will begin to glow. If you hit the puck with your paddle while pressing the "A" or "B" buttons you'll perform one of two Super Shots. The "A" button performs the "Fire Shot", which will award you more points for scoring, and the "B" button performs the "Trick Shot", which has a slight curve to it thus making it more difficult to hit. If you choose to play the Versus game the screen is split into two separate tables and each player has their own table to keep track of, thus giving both players the same vantage point. You can even add an additional player to each side to help each other out in a cooperative style of play. The same rules used in the single-player game apply to this multiplayer mode.
Aside from the main air hockey game modes, Family Glide Hockey also features three mini games. While these are entertaining enough at first, they just don't feature a whole lot of depth and become tiring and repetitive rather quickly, especially given that all three basically feature the same control method.
Glide Hockey Brawl basically lines up a set of coloured pucks at the top of the table in a bowling pin-like layout and lets you rocket off your puck into these coloured pucks in an effort to cause as many collisions as possible. You're awarded a certain number of points for each collision depending on which colour pucks make contact with each other. You have three chances to rack up as many points as possible.
Glide Hockey Drill presents you with math problems that you'll have to quickly calculate in your head in order to find the answer. The game places three blocks at the top of the table with three different answers. You have to hit the block with the correct answer on it with your puck to score points. You have a certain time limit with which to make it through as many problems as you can. A wrong answer will strip five seconds off the clock so you have to be careful with your answers.
Glide Hockey Tracer is probably the best mini game of the bunch, but having said that it's unlikely that it will keep your attention for more than a few minutes. You basically have to hit your puck as hard as you can to cause it to roll over the giant grid of coloured blocks. As it rolls over these blocks it will change their colour. You goal is to change all of the squares to a different colour as many times as you can in the five puck hits. As with all of the other mini games, the game keeps track of the best overall scores.
For some strange reason, instead of allowing the player to control the paddles using the Wii Remote's motion sensing technology, they instead mapped the control of the paddle to the Wii Remote's D-pad or the Nunchuk's analogue stick. You can still shake the Wii Remote to swing the paddle forward, but that's the only motion sensing function the Wii Remote uses in the game. In fact, this is really the only control function you'll use during the mini games, which is basically what makes them such shallow experiences overall. At every turn you'll find yourself wishing that the developers had put more control into the player's hands instead of trying to use a traditional control method that could have just as easily been executed on any of the other game consoles. The lack of online play or leader boards further adds to mounting list of features missing from the game.
It's not all bad, though. The cel-shaded visuals are nicely done and there is quite a bit of variety in the backdrops. The menus are a bit bland and this is one of those annoying Wii titles that doesn't span the entire 16x9 screen, but it's clear that the developers at least put in some significant time and effort into the visuals. Of course that might explain why other areas of the game come up a bit short.
The music ranges from good to utterly annoying. While you'll come across a decent track every now and then, for the most part the musical score just feels very uninspired and a bit too sticky sweet for its own good. The sound effects, while quite realistic, aren't varied enough to really add anything to the vanilla soundtrack and the character voices aren't much better. The game does give you the option of turning off the voices if you find them too annoying which is a welcome feature. Sadly, in the end the entire audio presentation never really creeps above the mediocre level.
Family Glide Hockey is basically one giant missed opportunity that makes you wonder exactly what the developers were thinking when they put it together. When you have a unique controller such as the Wii Remote, not to mention a game that seems to fit its control methods to a tee, it's difficult to understand why the developers chose to ignore it. Sure a case can be made that the game costs a mere 500 Wii Points and the mini games can be entertaining for those who can overlook their lack of depth and substance, but when it's all said and done, Family Glide Hockey comes off as nothing more than a feeble attempt to cash in on the WiiWare service and a game that could have been so much more.