Electronic Arts gives ice hockey a different spin with its most recent PlayStation Network title. Lead Designer, Matt Mahar, hits the ice with an insider view on 3 on 3 NHL Arcade.
Why have you decided to go with a 3 vs. 3 game rather than a full roster ice hockey title?
EA is coming out with a 3 on 3 Arcade game for numerous reasons, one being that there are no options out there for consumers to play an arcade style hockey game. There are Street versions of sports games, but hockey has never been one of them and the NHL dev team felt that we could fill this void with a top quality product and give users a game to enjoy.
Another reason for the arcade version is, we want to turn people on about hockey, we truly believe it is the best sport on earth and want to show people the sport. So we built Arcade to attract people to play a hockey game, when they might not usually play one.
Can you describe some of the features in the game?
3 on 3 NHL Arcade gives a complete package with online and offline play, as well as power-ups, 40 NHL superstars, stat tracking, and leaderboards. As far as game modes are concerned we have Play Now and Online Play.
Play Now supports 3 v 3. This is great for local play with your friends and is a great time. Online play is truly full - we have Play a Friend, Quick Ranked games, which can support up to 3 v 3, and unranked games as well. Create and Custom game modes are also in the game and allow the user to customise their online experience.
What about the inclusion of power-ups in 3 on 3 NHL Arcade?
We have a total of eight power-ups. The way these work is that you hit an opponent and a power-up will fall out of the player and onto the ice. This power-up can be skated over by the hitting team and then applied to that user. These power-ups are hilarious and really create a game within a game: do you get the power-up or take the puck? It's really challenging to the user to make the right decision.
When playing against your friends or playing online, power-ups add a fun and challenging element to the game while keeping it competitive and authentic to hockey.
The overall feel of the game is fast with amped up hitting and very distinct player types. For the Arcade player types, we categorised the players into three groups: Strong; big, able to withstand hits. Fast; fast on the ice and very agile, but can't withstand the hits like a Strong. All-Around; good at everything, but not as fast and strong as others. These player types add a layer of strategy to the game that can't be forgotten about. Users will have to choose wisely and find the best combination of players to beat their opponent.
How does the game control compared to other, more typical NHL titles?
For Arcade we have two control set-ups, we have the Skill Stick, which is for all the veterans out there, and we have Button Controls for the first timers. We put shoot/check and pass/change player on the buttons so that anyone can pick up and play this game.
In addition to shoot/check and pass/change player on the buttons, we added in Spin Move and Trick shots. I am really excited about having these in the game because they give the user two more offensive weapons while on the ice. With spin move you can get away from hits and skate into open ice. This helps to limit the number of power-ups your opponent will get and will get you into open areas to make plays.
Secondly, are Trick Moves, in line with the new break away contest the NHL introduced last year - we put in some moves that will give the user some creative freedom. Trick moves allow you to flip the puck up and bat it out the air, do spinning toe drag shots, and pick the puck up on your stick and score from behind the net. These are really great moves that will influence the outcome of every game.
As I mentioned above we have Skill Stick in the game with all its glory. In addition to the familiar Skill Stick moves we have added Trick Shots to it. These are done using the right stick and a modifier. The outcome of this addition is a new mechanic that Skill Stick users will have fun with and will allow them to score some amazing goals.
With Button Controls and Skill Stick we have something for everyone. With the addition of Spin Moves and Trick Shots to Button Controls and the Skill Stick, the result is an electrifying game that looks as good as it feels and is easy to use.
What stands out for you as the coolest thing about the game?
There are so many cool things in 3 on 3 NHL Arcade, be it hitting guys out of the rink, performing a trick move from behind the net, or spinning away from a hit attempt that it's hard to nail down one cool thing. But I like the addition of power-ups to the game. They truly add to the game overall, adding an element of strategy to gameplay.