2 on 2 Open Ice Challenge
|2 On 2 Open Ice Challenge|
Windows cover art
|Developer(s)||Midway Games |
Avalanche Software (PS)
|Publisher(s)||Midway Home Entertainment |
GT Interactive Software
|Platform(s)||Arcade, PlayStation, Microsoft Windows|
|Mode(s)||Up to 4 players|
|Arcade system||Midway Wolf Unit hardware|
|Display||Raster, 400 x 254 pixels, 32768 colors|
2 On 2 Open Ice Challenge is an ice hockey arcade game released by Midway Games in 1995. It features comically exaggerated hockey play, causing it to often be described as an ice hockey equivalent to Midway's NBA Jam. It was ported to PlayStation in 1996. The game would be similar to its arcade counterpart with exception to the fact that the Winnipeg Jets moved to Phoenix after the conclusion of the 1995–96 season, thus the Phoenix Coyotes replaced the Jets in the PlayStation port. In addition, much of the team's roster was changed, including its goalie, Tim Cheveldae being replaced by Nikolai Khabibulin, therefore Cheveldae was unable to be a goalie playing for any team in the PlayStation version.
Open Ice was released on PC (Windows) in 1997 featuring the same roster and teams as the PlayStation version. This game is an official licensed product of the NHLPA (National Hockey League Players Association).
Jack Haeger was lead game designer and an avid hockey player. The lead programmer was Mark Penacho, assisted by Bill Dabelstein. Sound design and music by Jon Hey. The skating sounds were recorded by Jon Hey at the Chicago Park District's only indoor ice rink, McFetridge Sports Center, which is just a block North of what was once Midway's Chicago studios. The announcer in the game is the famous voice of the Chicago Blackhawks Pat Foley. If a team achieves "On-Fire" status (made famous initially by Midway's NBA Jam), Pat Foley's voice will occasionally announce: "Toasty", a reference to Mortal Kombat. A version of 2 on 2 Open Ice Challenge for Panasonic M2 was in development and slated to be one of the launch titles but it never occurred due to the system's cancellation.
A reviewer for Next Generation called the game "NBA Jam on ice", and said it would be particularly appreciated since arcade hockey games were almost unheard of at the time. He applauded the game's full NHL licensing and player rosters, flaming pucks, two-on-two mode, commentary, and overall depth and playability of its hockey action, and concluded that "Williams rarely makes a bad move, and Open Ice is testament to its conservative but consistent quality games." Bruised Lee of GamePro similarly said the game "proves that Midway will continue to dominate the arcade sports market long after the success of NBA Jam." He praised the numerous Easter eggs, sharp graphics, fluid animation, and variety of moves.
The PlayStation version divided reviewers. Jeff Kitts of GameSpot, The Rookie of GamePro, and Dean Hager of Electronic Gaming Monthly all agreed that it offered fun and fast NBA Jam-style hockey and was a faithful translation of the arcade version. Kitts acknowledged problems with the animations but praised the inclusion of novelty power-up codes, and judged the game an overall refreshing break from realistic hockey sims. The Rookie went so far as to say that it "shoots and scores at every level." In contrast, Hager's co-reviewer Kraig Kujawa said it "doesn't seem to capture the magic that made that made [NBA Jam] so popular", and that it compares poorly to its similar contemporary, Wayne Gretzky's 3D Hockey for the Nintendo 64. Next Generation agreed that it simply lacked the spark of NBA Jam, and also "fails to capture the coin-op's flashy essence", citing smaller characters, missing frames of animation, a weaker color palette, and missing audio effects compared to the arcade version. PlayStation Official Magazine – UK said that players should "avoid the game at all costs".
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