When Someone Besides EA Makes a Hockey Game, Part I: Mario Lemieux Hockey

Lemieux Hockey

Behold – the great Mario Lemieux… with a solid white line in his mouth, so it looks like he’s toothless and wearing a mouthpiece… and a big bright red “66” on the front of his jersey… hoisting a vague, golden statue above his head… looking less like a hockey superstar and more like a kid with Down Syndrome whose parents allowed him to pretend a Rolo wrapper was a magic fleece. Yes, my friend, you have just wasted your money.

In Mario Lemieux Hockey, the 1991 Sega-manufactured “game” (inasmuch as the word “game” does not automatically imply potential for enjoyment) you can’t aim your shots, there aren’t any real teams, faceoffs are decided by the puck bouncing in the air three times then landing on someone’s stick, and the overall gameplay offers you less control than a quadriplegic Calvinist – Yes, “Lemieux”will stand forever as a shining example of what happened in the 90s when someone besides EA tried to make a hockey video game.

More Than Zero Real Players!

Sure, the game only features Mario Lemieux and a bunch of made-up dudes on nickname-free teams like “Hartford” and “Washington,” but the game DOES feature multiple other players with names like “Ledoux” and “Lepieux” to really flaunt the fact that the makers not only didn’t license the NHLPA, but they also couldn’t be bothered to come up with original names that weren’t just two-year-olds adorably mispronouncing “Lemieux.” Head Programmer: “How about, I don’t know, ‘Smith’? Head Developer: Man, that was tough, my head kinda hurts… let’s just make the rest of the names like ‘Lemieux’ but not.”

Shootouts? More like Shitouts

Apparently, whoever made this game thought that “shootouts” meant that a stationary player stands in the high slot and slowly pushes a one-timer towards one of the eight directional corners of the net. The primary challenge of this exercise was to time the shot precisely, cause being off by a billionth of a second meant instant failure; this was so retardedly difficult to do, even the computer frequently messed this up. The goalie then had to make a save into the exact same corner of the net as the shot, or else it was a goal; even if the computer shot the puck directly at your goalie’s head, if you didn’t deliberately make an upwards save, the puck went over the goalie’s head and into the net. Basically, every goalie was Arturs Irbe playing on his knees.

Redeeming Quality

If you value statistics more than enjoyment, then you’re in luck – Mario Lemieux Hockey offers no fewer than FIFTEEN pages of painstakingly detailed, semi-nonexistant statistics to help you analyze the unwieldy clusterfucking taking place on the screen with impeccable statistical accuracy. The game even keeps track of how each of your goals were scored (“Rebound,” “Trickle,” “Quality”) and assigns each one a “goodness value,” giving you both an aggregate and an average score for the objective quality of your goals. Imagine playing a baseball game that analyzed every possible Sabermetric for all your players, from VORP to FRAA, but you couldn’t throw a damn curveball. Or perhaps more accurately, it was like using a really expensive, high-powered microscope to examine a dog’s asshole.

Conclusion

On the scale of hastily tossed-together shit festivals with athletes’ names plastered onto them, “Mario Lemieux Hockey” ranks above “Cal Ripken Jr. Baseball” but below “Buster Douglas Boxing” in terms of Overall Audacity. Among all-time hockey games, on a scale from 0 (Atari’s “E.T. – The Hockey Expansion”) to 10 (“Street Fighter II” If It Were a Hockey Game), “Mario Lemieux Hockey” scores a sweet 2, meaning that any exposure to more than one consecutive second of gameplay will make you question how any human could have possibly conceived of or approved any aspect of the acid trip occurring on the screen in front of you.

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7 Comments

  1. “Rebound”, “Trickle”, “Quality”. The exact criteria by which I am judged by my wife post-coitus. I’m pretty sure she married me for the money.

  2. “less control than a quadriplegic Calvinist” — visual slapstick plus Dennis Milleresque reference = comedy overload. Well done.

  3. +1 Sens. Well done.

  4. I have a puck with the logo for this game on it, and strangely, consider it a worthy possesion.

  5. SLC the interwebs tend to frown on the now over-used LOL, but damn my boss just asked me what was so funny.

    like using a really expensive, high-powered microscope to examine a dog’s asshole – that’s the kind of humour I can get behind.

  6. “less control than a quadriplegic Calvinist” That ALONE was worth the time it took to load (sorry, dial up sucks like a hoover)

    ” couldn’t be bothered to come up with original names that weren’t just two-year-olds adorably mispronouncing “Lemieux.””
    All uin all, beauty!

  7. I own over 100 video games going back to my Sega Master System days, and I still consider this my most disappointing purchase ever. Being 8 or 9 years old at the time, it was easy to be swayed by the deluxe packaging with the free “autographed” lemieux hockey puck. Especially, after not having yet had the chance to play EA’s licenced NHL game which came out around the same time.

    A couple other memories about the game…the programmers put more into the fighting than the actual hockey part of the game. Ironic considering the pussy on the front of the box. You could even throw low blows. And only the loser of a fight got a penalty…for 3 minutes. Also because the game wouldn’t allow you to have more than 2 guys in the box at one time, if you were 2 men down, you also couldn’t check or get into fights.

    At the time Sega was great at getting top sports figures for its games. At least Joe Montana Football, Tommy Lasorda Baseball and Pat Riley Basketball were varying degrees of decent. This was complete crap.


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