If the Americans take anything more seriously than the obliteration of World Socialism and the establishment of a Macdonalds on every street corner, then that must be their sports.
This huge seriousness about sport is, of course, reflected in the nature of their sports sim software. Compare home grown Match Day to TV Football - one is "pick-up the joystick and bop", the other, "study the manual and think".
American Ice Hockey - coming as it does from Chicago-based Mindscape, falls firmly into the latter category, so be warned, this is not the sort of game that you can expect to be instantly playable. The game is part on-ice game-playing, part team management, with, if anything, the balance slightly weighted towards the management functions.
No matter how good your skills with the joystick are, you are never going to win the coverted Sport Time cup by reactions alone. Frontal lobes must be firmly engaged both within the game - by selecting strategies and on-ice players (although you can get the computer to do this for you), as well as the wheeling and dealing of trading players, recruiting new staff, etc. You can't expect to build up a winning team overnight either, so there is a load/save option that you will be using a lot.
This kind of complexity is good news/bad news. Great if you like that kind of in-depth detail, irrelevant if all you want to do is play ice hockey. Doubly so, considering the implementation of the arcade section of the game.
Viewed from an 'in the grandstand' perspective, both your team and the opposition's are a bit stick-like, not overly colourful and do not zoom about the ice at a rate of huge knots. On the upside, the controls are responsive, and the feeling of momentum as you control the Centre (the rest are played by the computer, with an option for the goalie) is impressive.
Naturally, there are options to take out the opposing players, as well as the more conventional moves - but if you do this successfully you stand a chance of getting spotted by the ref and confined to the Sin Bin for a short period of time.
However, the on-ice pands of the game can only be described as competent rather than inspired.
Having said that, considering you have an interesting-looking strategy section as an integral part of the game, and you like your sports sims cerebral rather than reflex, American Ice Hockey is a pucking good game.
Ice Hockey simulation with heavy emphasis on strategic elements - recommended if you are that way inclined, dull if you aren't. Graphically uninteresting but lots of management elements.
Better graphics and sounds don't quite make up for slower arcade section.
OK if you've got a disc drive (disc version is £14.99) otherwise the multi-loading is tedious.
Probably more suitable for this machine, with all that strategy, but it plays better than you'd expect as well.