While I haven’t really played any hockey games in probably at least 20 years, back in the day I had a great time with some classics including the old-school EA Sports NHL series and going back even further to the terrific Blades of Steel. At first glance, Bush Hockey League captures a bit of that spirit while throwing in some humor that I can appreciate as some of the towns that have teams are in my neck of the woods in the boonies. You’re playing on some rundown small venue teams, and if you choose to play the Story Mode you’ll be pretty well starting from scratch where your goal in any given game early on isn’t even to win, just to meet a variety of objectives that will help you gain opportunities to shape your squad up in specific areas. What I found odd is that neither the simplified retro controls nor the more advanced ones felt very good to me, I was stuck wishing there was something down the middle. The retro controls were simply too stripped down and left you missing a load of capabilities, but the advanced and generally very stick-based controls I couldn’t quite get the hang of to be effective. Then throw in the fact that your team’s movements off the puck can be baffling at times, that the goalies seem streaky both good and bad in odd ways, and that honestly the games “feel” too long in general and it’s kind of a bummer. The pieces are mostly there in some form, it just doesn’t quite seem to come together in a way that helps it be memorable.
Justin Nation, Score: