Reviewers bash EA Sports' ‘NBA Jam'-like hockey game

In December, we told you about EA Sports' "3 on 3 NHL Arcade," a downloadable title for Xbox Live and PlayStation Network that features grotesque caricatures of about 40 NHL players competing in a game with few rules but many "power-ups." (If this means Brian Gionta becomes Zdeno Chara after eating a mushroom, we're there. Before he stomps on Claude Lemieux, of course.)

The game has finally been released for the PlayStation, with Xbox coming later this week, and the reviews are starting to come in -- much to the chagrin of EA Sports, we imagine, if this Game Focus assessment is any indication:

3 on 3 NHL Arcade is a game that should not be a 10 dollar purchase, rather a bonus mode available in the regular NHL release. It seems as though this was simply released as quick cash cow or EA is finally planning on releasing an NHL game on the Wii and they wanted to use the HD consoles for testing. It is nice that you can create your own teams but it still doesn't detract from the fact that there isn't much else to do. If EA plans on releasing a similar game in the future, it would be better suited to either bring back the under-appreciated NHL Rock the Rink from the original PlayStation or putting in some sort of ladder option or tournament mode similar to arcade sports titles from the 90s. I can't recommend this game to anyone, including hockey fans.

Ouch. IGN isn't exactly kind in its review, either:

Much more could have been done with 3 on 3 NHL Arcade. A tournament mode would have helped a great deal, as would unlockables and the inclusion of NHL teams. All-Star NHL players are a great thing to have, but in the end, people care about their favorite team more than a collection of unaffiliated players. The over-the-top gameplay is a good fit, but it is a bit unimaginative. Shrinking goalies and massive body checks aren't exactly stretching the boundaries for an arcade game. Why not have fun with on-ice intros or the end-game announcement of the 3 Stars? Where is my Zamboni race between periods?

Perhaps the expectations and demands from gaming sites are higher than those of the general public who just want a fun, silly hockey game where the players look like bobblehead dolls. But this title doesn't sound like it's hockey's answer to "NBA Jam"; hell, it doesn't even sound as fun as Skeets' NBA Jam 2-on-2 tournament on Ball Don't Lie, either. If you want goofy hockey video game fun, we've got four words for you: "skinny, medium, fat, fat." And if you get that, then you're probably reading Puck Daddy.

Check out this trailer from EA Sports on the game:

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