Why the Original NES Ice Hockey Needs a WiiWare Update

3d ice hockey nesMaybe it’s because I’m turning into an old man, or maybe it’s because I’m Canadian, but one of my favorite sports games is still the original NES Ice Hockey. Like so many of Nintendo’s other games, Ice Hockey relies on accessible, yet addictive gameplay with a level of depth that keeps the game fun even more than twenty years later. Oh, and the fat players are adorable.

I propose that it is time to give this cherished classic the WiiWare update treatment that has been granted to other old-school games like Dr. Mario, Contra and Excitebike. There seem to be a lot of these updates these days, so someone besides me must be buying them.

Here’s my case:

  • Ice Hockey lends itself well to online play, perhaps with 4 or more players at a time. Mario Strikers style online play would be great, where you can mix local and online play to keep your team on your couch, and challenge a team on a couch on the other side of the continent.
  • The accessibility of the title will appeal to a wide audience. The game has an arcadey feel to it, so you can just jump in an play at any time. The controls were extremely simple 20 years ago, and should remain such. Perhaps you could shake the Wii Remote to body check, which felt great in Strikers Charged.
  • The WiiWare service currently has no hockey games, or even a lot of sports games for that matter. Such games could have online tournaments or other features to draw in new players and keep people interested.
  • The nostalgia factor for Ice Hockey may not be up there with Mario or Excitebike, but is pretty high. If you owned an NES in the 80s, you probably played Ice Hockey. A big part of that nostalgia factor was the trash talk that went with playing the game. Toss in WiiSpeak functionality for people on your Friends List and you have a winner.

The game isn’t likely to appeal to hockey fans looking for an authentic hockey experience, but an Ice Hockey update would have broader appeal and would surely find an audience. I don’t doubt that Nintendo will be watching the sales of Excitebike: World Rally very closely to see if there’s a market for WiiWare updates for other classic NES games. Dr. Mario Online Rx was a WiiWare hit, and I bet World Rally sold like gang busters. Fingers crossed.

Agree? Disagree? Are there any classic games you’d like to see getting the WiiWare update treatment?