When I finally finish my basement, it will be built around two items: a model railroad with a ’50s nuclear accident theme (complete with radiated zombies and giant spiders terrorizing the seemingly mandated little league baseball game), and a rod hockey table. I’m to rod hockey as some fellows are to pool tables and/or stocked bars, and I’d happily lay down a couple thousand dollars on a quality table if my wife would allow it. Right now, though, I’ll content myself to lay down $0.99 on Team Canada Table Hockey for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.
What is it?
Team Canada Table Hockey comes from Stinger Games, the developers of Stinger Table Hockey. It’s a virtual reproduction of the table (or rod) hockey games you may have been lucky to find at Aladdin’s Castle at the mall or, if you’re even luckier, at a friend’s house.
With rods at the ends of the table, you control hockey players along lanes cut into the table top. Pull the rods to move them, twist them to pass or shoot. Imagine foosball, but with heavier emphasis on strategy and skill and less on pure luck.
How does it work?
Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t include rods in the iPad form factor, so there are two virtual control methods for Team Canada Table Hockey: One Touch automatically gives you control of the player nearest to the puck, which makes for a faster but more random game that’s better for new players, and Dual Touch allows you to control two players at a time, one with each thumb. Tap the player or lane of the player you want to control, then drag up and down to move him, left and right to spin him. This method allows you to set up passes and take better shots, but it slows down the game quite a bit and takes a while to master.
And honestly, pretty much all of my goals came about after random bounces, not carefully planned shots, just like the real thing.
Team Canada Table Hockey includes three “mini games”: Hardest Shot just measures the strength of your shots on goal, Sniper sees how many empty net goals you can score in 60 seconds with the puck being passed to you randomly, and my favorite, Shootout, somewhat replicates an NHL shootout in which you basically take penalty shots one-on-one against the goalie. Once he blocks three shots (or you miss the net), the game ends.
Is it contagious?
It is if you’ve ever spent a quarter on a physical rod hockey table. Although the controls are unwieldy, it’s still quite a bit of fun. The various game modes keep things fresh (while improving your skills), and the multiplayer action is great if you can find someone at your skill level. The speedy puck physics are as random as the real thing, and the computer AI is surprisingly clever.
As you can see, the graphics are fantastic as well, although that sure is a whole lot of red and white out there. I get that the game is licensed by Team Canada, but wouldn’t the Canadians be happier beating down the Americans, Fins or Swedes than just playing each other all day? Hopefully, the next incarnation of Stinger Table Hockey will come with NHL (go Wild!), AHL (go Monsters!) or IIHG (go…uh…Finland, I guess!) licensing. Stinger games are certainly good enough.