ICEFX Hockey - Why it didn't catch on
So we had the opportunity to purchase a couple of these games off Kijiji ( non-Canadians can google it). For those that don't know the design of the game, it's a hybrid rod-air table hockey game. See the link to the Youtube video below.
There are two different variations on the tables we have. One is NHL branded and came with the Maple Leafs and Canadiens. The other is ICEFX branded and came with USA vs. Canada. While the gameplay is not horrible, it's not the best.
I think there were some missed opportunities to make this type of game design a new variation to a classic game which could have been very successful and a lot more fun to play. I think a big reason that it didn't catch on was that it tried to make a fun game far more 'techie' than it needed to be or wanted to be. There are some design flaws in the rod handles (very susceptible to breaking) and it's a big and bulky game, even by table hockey standards.
Right now, ours are in storage, but we may just have to pull them out and see what kind of mods might improve this game. If you have any ideas or suggestions for mods to this game that would make it better, or if you have one of these games, let us know!
I had the opportunity to pick one of these up about a month ago, and totally blew it. (I'll call later....maybe tomorrow....) ugh. I've always wanted to try it. It looks fairly decent in the YouTube video.
Outside of the obvious, (the air-hockey part) what else do these boards incorporate on the technological side? I've read it had sensors on the goal lines to record goals, and I'm assuming that's to offset the fact that it had no "pit" for a puck to drop into, so "in and out" goals would be a real problem. Where there any other NHL teams available to purchase other than the Habs and the Leafs?
I've also never been a fan of the goalie rod on the side of the board, that seems to be the norm these days. I'm wondering if in this specific type of game, would it have been better placed in the centre as Coleco originally had it?
I have two of these in storage - both purchased several years ago secondhand. One model is the 'World' version (for lack of a better term) and it has Team USA and Team Canada. The other is an NHL version which includes Montreal and Toronto (I think).
The table itself sits fairly high, since it needs to accommodate the fan for the board. There's two separate power sources - a plug to power the fan and a battery compartment that powers the scoreboard/timer and and other electronics. There's a separate power switch for the fan and scoreboard/timer. When thescoreboard/timer is turned on. there's a digitized voice that says "Let's Play Hockey!"
There is also a goal line sensor that triggers a goal horn sound and registers the goal on the scoreboard. That's neat but doesn't seem to always work if the puck goes in too fast.
Another interesting item to note - the sets came with three pucks of varying sizes (and weights?), which allows the gameplay to be faster or slower.
Side goalie rods seem to have become the norm. I grew up with a Coleco board with a center goalie rod, and then a Gretzky table with a side rod. I don't have a preference one way or the other.
Weak points of the set:
- The handles are rubber, but they seem to dry out quickly and snap off. I'd like to 3D print some new plastic knobs modeled after the original rubber ones.
- The players are flat 2D pieces that clip on to a magnetic base. They swivel like standard table hockey games. They seem to be somewhat brittle, but I haven't played it enough to determine if the broken pieces that came with my game were due to gameplay.
I'm finally on holiday break, so maybe it's a good time to start retreive some of this out of storage and snap some photos for you.
Interesting point about the rubber. I've had Coleco rubber knobs that dried out, and others that seem to last a lifetime. I wonder if that's a common problem on all IceFx games, or just a fluke? There probably aren't enough people out there who own them to really get a good read. Not surprising about the goal sensor not always working. It's a good idea, but anyone who's played enough table hockey in the past could likely tell it wouldn't work 100& of the time due to the speed of the game. Probably cool when it does work though!
I always found in games with a side goalie rod, the goalie ended up being used far less than in a centre rod system. Just wasn't as convenient to grab I guess.....but that's perhaps due more to my style of playing than anything. I think Stiga was the early innovator of that system.
I sure hope those brittle parts on the game aren't due to gameplay. I'd hate to finally find one of these sets and have it go out of commission early on, with pretty much zero way of getting parts for it.
The concept to combine air hockey with a rod hockey game was a very ambitious idea with so much potential, but the execution fell flat with this. It's a big and clunky table, and overall, it's solidly made, except for the small pieces. With games like this, it's usually those small pieces that make or break the success of it.
I'm in Western Canada (calgary area) and I found both sets on Kijiji. Depending on where you live, you might be able to track one down. A quick search found these if you're still searching for one: