Apr 27, 2010

Hockey Nation 2010 First Impressions

As I see 'my' Washington Capitals continue their proud post-season tradition of losing games in which they can close out an opponent I was inspired to try Hockey Nations 2010. Ok, that has nothing to do with it as I've been looking forward to giving this a go all weekend. Hockey Nations 2010 is a big game with several features and I don't want to do a 'quick judgement' review, but I did spend some time with it and here are a few notes.

The game plays very smoothly on my Droid. I haven't seen any real slow down issues. Obviously the players are kind of tiny, but they're basically what I'd expect for a 6 on 6 hockey game on a 3.5 inch screen. It all looks good though (the screenshot is from the iPhone version, but it's pretty close... the Android version has letters on the virtual buttons on the lower right).

As for controls, it uses the infamous virtual DPad and I'm not a fan of that. One reason I got a Droid was because of the real DPad for gaming although I wish it was on the more traditional left side of the keyboard. I'm still trying to figure that one out knowing that Motorola is a US company (in my home state, too) creating a device for people raised on Nintendos.

Now you CAN use the keyboard for the shoot, pass, and 'speed burst' buttons via the 'I', 'O', and 'P' keys, but you MUST use a virtual DPad. They chose those keys because the virtual DPad is on the left side of the screen. And naturally the Pass key is the... yes, if you said 'I' and not 'P' you would be correct. Needless to say unless they allow for the DPad to be used I'm going to struggle with this one, but so far I've only fiddled with it and I don't want to rush to judgement. Maybe, just maybe if I play enough virtual DPad games I'll get used to it as I also wasn't a fan of the Nintendo style DPad after being used to an Atari 2600 style joystick.

I'm also curious if they used the AirPlay SDK to create this game. For those that don't know what that is... it is a cross platform development environment that allows for the creation of mobile games that run on the iPhone, Android, BREW, Windows Mobile... etc from one code base and they claim that it lets you do high performance graphics. Natural Motion used it for their iPhone version of Backbreaker Football (but hasn't released it on other platforms?) and that's a game that impressed me so I believe it. I also have plans to use it myself and I don't understand why more don't use it given the upside with minimal downside.

Another thing I don't get is why so many developers that make games for the iPhone fail to mention an Android version on their websites and this game is among those. Asphalt 5 was, too, in addition to many others. We're talking professional, big name companies and they keep the Android versions of their games a secret. What gives?


  1. Hi there,

    Just to confirm, our Hockey Nations game does not use Airplay. It uses our own internally developed cross-platform 3D engine.

    We're working on adding d-pad and trackball controls to the game and that will be rolled into an update in the very near future.


  2. I'm glad to hear that they're adding dpad support. I bought the game but couldn't deal with the virtual dpad.

    please add movement controls using the keys on the left side of the keyboard in the following fashion:

    Q W E
    A S D
    [shift] z x

    where the keys on the corners are diagonal movers, and the other keys move in the appropriate direction. both Z and S should move downwards.

    This would make the game playable on the droid.

    Thanks a lot devs.

    P.S. Great website