To hear V7 tell it, Old Time Hockey is meant to evoke a personal connection to the past, whether from playing classic arcade sports games or from following hockey in its violent bygone days.
“We wanted to try to capture that experience of, you know, playing on the couch, having a few drinks with your buddies, that whole old-school nostalgic experience,” said executive producer Mike Torillo in an interview with Polygon last week.
Torillo name-dropped sports touchstones like NBA Jam, Tecmo Bowl and Blades of Steel, explaining that V7 is designing Old Time Hockey to be the kind of simple sports game that anyone can pick up and enjoy — even with one hand. (More on that later.) But there’s a deeper level of nostalgia at play, too.
“We wanted to also have a good emphasis on all the stuff that you usually don’t get to see, you know — the dirtier side of hockey, let’s say,” Torillo continued. “We do appreciate how it used to be. You hear these stories of back then, with Gordie Howe, how tough he was; all these ridiculous situations.”
Here’s a sampling of the ridiculous situations on display in Old Time Hockey: nobody wears a helmet; fights break out frequently, and players hack at each other with their hockey sticks; athletes leave these brawls with blood streaming down their faces; it’s possible to injure enough opposing players to force a team to forfeit. This is exactly the kind of stuff you don’t see in the only other hockey video game that’s currently available: EA Sports’ long-running NHL series.