Any sports fan who also had a controller in their hand in the 90s likely played a hockey game at some point. Whether you were a die-hard NHL ’94 fan, Brett Hull Hockey, Blades of Steel, or countless others, there was a lot of fun to be had solo and with friends.
Tape to Tape is picking up that torch with a similar look and feel, mixed with some more modern mechanics and gameplay elements that keep things fresh. The game is now in Early Access on Steam, and I had a chance to play it.
I’ll share some of my thoughts below to give you a quick sense of what Tape to Tape offers. You can also watch one of my unsuccessful runs in the video below, where I get beat by a farting team of princesses. Yes, you read that correctly.
Tape to Tape has a ridiculous premise, and it knows it. It’s refreshing to find a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously, even though rogue-like elements and competition are involved. Sure, you want to win, but why not put a former golfer trying to get a hold of a mystical cup to restore the sports world around you?
After a quick tutorial, Tape to Tape lets you choose a new team member while adding a random set of “benchwarmers” with lesser skills that can later be upgraded on your run. It’s a simple enough setup that had to be on the ice in no time.
The gameplay is also simplified with old-school hockey controls; one button to pass, another to shoot, and a third to body check. Some players have a unique ability that will use up all the face buttons. But that’s it. Between this easy setup and various difficulties, Tape to Tape could be a fun way to get younger or newer sports gamers into the mix.
Most of the time, the on-ice action felt fast and fluid. I felt pretty underpowered every once in a while, but that’s also the nature of rogue-like games. You play, fail, start a new run, rinse, and repeat.
Pucks of Personality
Aside from the hockey basics, I enjoyed playing with and facing up against various hilarious and wild abilities and teams. For example, there’s a classic boost. But why stop there? Why not load up a slapshot that bounces off opponents’ heads and knocks them to the ice!? Or my personal favourite that had me laughing repeatedly: throwing your stick.
Every ability and skill added or modified through the map and its varied locations brought something to the game. That also goes for the music and sound design. The in-game and arena sounds are great, followed by some rocking tunes every time a goal is scored. A quiet favourite for me was the arena announcer who calls out goals but in a muffled, unrecognizable voice that, for some reason, just made me chuckle every time I heard it.
One downside I noticed, and one that can be improved upon, is the lack of depth in the rogue elements of each run. There’s only one “currency” I accumulated, which needs to be used for every possible upgrade. Additionally, you’re always facing the same teams in the same spots on the map. Each game differed from the last, but a few more groups or map changes would be welcome.
Despite being in Early Access, Tape to Tape provided a funny, wacky, colourful, fast, and great time on the ice!
[This impression article is based on an Early Access code offered by the publisher]