Family Glide Hockey had serious potential. A series of cheap, simple downloadable sports games in the Wii Sports tradition is a fantastic idea -- one that, if done right, would easily be one (or more) of the WiiWare service's killer apps. Glide Hockey's predecessor Family Table Tennis actually delivered on the promise of the cheapo family sports game, giving me hope for the series.

Plus, air hockey, the arcade attraction on which the WiiWare game is based, is generally awesome and underrepresented in games. The combination of good family sports game series and air hockey seemed like a natural winner.

"Natural" and "winner" are two appelations that fail to describe Family Glide Hockey in any way.




If you played Wii Play's Laser Hockey (and I know you did) you might think you know what to expect out of Family Glide Hockey: one-on-one air hockey, using the pointer controls of the Wii Remote to control the movements of each player's mallet. If you're going to put an air hockey game on the Wii, that's pretty much the only way to do it, right? I mean, unless you were going to do something ridiculous like control the mallet with the D-pad or Nunchuk analog stick. Which is precisely what Family Glide Hockey does. There are motion controls too -- flicking the Wiimote jabs the mallet forward to hit the puck. A and B unleash special shots that can only be activated when the puck has bounced off of enough walls (indicated by a glow effect).

If that method of play sounds uninspiring, there's always "auto" mode, in which the game moves the mallet for you and you just control the jabbing and special shots. As an experiment, I set the game to auto mode and put the controller down for a match. I kind of wish I could have won for dramatic purposes, but unfortunately I didn't.

I only scored three points.

As much as I love air hockey, I admit that most of my attempts to play the real game result in random goals on either side -- the puck just sort of bounces around wildly until it clatters into someone's goal. Family Glide Hockey exacerbates this problem with a design idea that seems fun at first: unusual, gimmicky tables. There's an ice-themed table with sliding iceberg-things, a woodland table with a curved shape and moving goals, and a table with jagged sides. All of which have the effect of making the damn puck fly around erratically. Don't bother trying to place your shots! They're just going to go wherever.

Beyond the single-player and obligatory multiplayer modes, Family Glide Hockey features three minigames. Glide Hockey Tracer, about changing the colors of groups of blocks by running the puck over them, is actually kind of fun, while Glide Hockey Drill, about trying to answer math problems by aiming the puck at the correct solution, is just frustrating. Right between the two (but falling loser to the "fun" side) is Glide Hockey Brawl, a game that scores you based on the collisions between your puck and bowling-pin-style arrangements of pucks.

Between the boring controls and the seeming lack of player determination of success -- along with smaller complaints like the way that sound effects make the music cut out -- there's basically nothing to recommend here. The fact that the minigames are reasonably okay (Tracer is a little bit addictive!) makes Family Glide Hockey far from the worst WiiWare offering, but it's still bland at best.

Final score: 3.5/10

We're always looking for new games to enjoy. We've got plenty of other WiiWare reviews, if you're into that kind of thing.. If you're so crazy that you want to go to the store and buy something when you could be playing World of Goo or Mega Man 9, we can help with that, too.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.

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