Blog Games Master System Sega

Great Ice Hockey (Master System, 1986)

Bust out your Sega Sports Pad – or not!

Jason’s gonna get ya!

PLAYERS: 1-2 simultaneous


GENRE: Sports

RELEASE DATE: 12/86 (US), 1987 (JP)

And so we arrive at Great Ice Hockey, the first game I’m unable to play properly.

Sega’s first and only attempt at hockey for the Master System requires their paddle peripheral, the Sega Sports Pad, to play. There is no getting around the need for the Pad. The standard controller moves the hockey players in fits and starts, and not in the direction you want them to go. What’s a poor boy to do except save up money for the Sports Pad? The controller itself isn’t that expensive, so I should get it here before too long. Lord knows you’ve waited patiently for seven months for a Great Ice Hockey review. A couple more weeks won’t hurt ya.

Here she is, the controller that nobody asked for.

In the meantime, I want to address Sega’s Sports Pad, a true monstrosity of design and a veritable offense to good taste. The Sports Pad replaces the standard controller’s D-pad for a bulbous trackball directly in the middle of the controller. Whereas buttons 1 and 2 were once on the right hand side of the controller – like all good Christian controllers – now they’re on the bottom left. Without having played or used the controller, I can only speculate that this sudden movement of tried-and-true button placement will feel strange and awkward. At least southpaws will be able to smack the crap out of the puck with ease. The trackball, in theory, should give you greater control over the hockey players, but according to the one and only review of the game I could find (courtesy of The Video Game Critic), it does the opposite. “The single most unresponsive track-ball ever produced!” he claims. I’ll be the judge of that! Er, when I get one, of course.

I will not be surprised if playing Great Ice Hockey is as painful as a belly flop into a pool of ice. The Sega Sports Pad was so unsuccessful that it only saw support for three games. And why? For starters, the Pad was too damn expensive. SegaRetro doesn’t have the dollar cost for the controller, but it does have the yen price point: 9,800 yen, which in today’s money roughly translates to eighty-two dollars. And this sucker was released during the ’80s, when the American economy was down and the Japanese economy was up, so there’s a good chance it cost even more in America.

More importantly, there’s a good chance that the trackball is as bad as the VG Critic says it is, and that’s why I’m not looking forward to playing Great Ice Hockey. Then again, if I don’t drop my hard-earned cash onto barely working peripherals in order to play games that suck, who will? This is the life I chose, friends. All for the name of completion.

10 replies on “Great Ice Hockey (Master System, 1986)”

It’s kind of interesting. Track balls were kind of a thing of the previous generation. Atari had them, and I’d bet Intellivision and Coleco might have had one but I’m not sure. I recently just recovered my Atari trackball controller. And it’s quite a bit bigger than this even. I’m just gonna say trackball controllers are cool. If only they had one for the NES or Genesis. If only to play to play Marble Madness properly. Also Sega released a joystick controller for the SMS, that also had the buttons on the left side. I also had that. I’ve always asked, WHY???? It makes no sense,

Trackball controllers are cool enough. I have nothing against the idea of the trackball, but Sega’s Sports Pad just looks ridiculous, particularly with the buttons in the bottom left; like someone placed them there at the last minute.

The Atari 5200 trackball (provided you get it pre-refurbished, as it can be as flaky as the regular 5200 controllers) is massive, but it’s amazingly good, and even put the buttons on BOTH sides. However, the Master System Sports Pad, with its righthanded setup (and the putrid rep of the “Great” sports titles), is an unholy abomination.

Hi Dylan,
I’ve just recently discovered this blog, so the last couple of days I’ve been frenetically reading (and enjoyng) all your reviews. Today I finally catched up! I just had to express my sincere grattitude for taking us with you on this thrilled sega-ride. Tremendous Job!

note inbetween: sorry for my somewhat lacking writing skills. English is not my native tongue (I’m a dutch-speaking Belgian. I live 20km/12m north of Brussels).

Forgive me to stray off topic a bit … but I would like to share some None-Great-Ice-Hockey-related remarks.

“Alex Kidd in Miracle World” was the very first videogame I remember laying eyes upon as a kid. Eyes not hands, since I was basically always forced to watch my older brother playing it. The Master System II was the first – and for quite a few years the only – console we had at our home. Alex Kidd came built-in, wich makes this system (more commonly found in Belgium than its predecessor) by the way the ideal flea-market-buy (One of the system’s absolute classics built in, and you can easily hook it up to your telivision with the most standard cable chord and power adaptor) nowadays.

As kids we owned about 25-30 games (As a collector I’ve amassed 61 games) , And we certainly weren’t the only ones here! If memory serves me right, more of my friends had a sega than a Nintendo. And you stumble much more frequently on MS-games on flea markets, garage-sales and in retro shops, than on their nes counterparts (offcourse this is far from scientific proof for my claim. Perhaps nes-owners were way less eager to get rid of their collections?! Also global demand in this internet-era probably plays its role ) But yeah we sure live in an alternate reallity over here.

The “game Gear” was my first personally owned gaming system, witch contrary to the SMS – I noticed in retrospect – was also a rather obscure handheld over here. But great memories abound. I have about 50 GG-games, But sadly both my handhelds (I later got my brother’s one too) are in a very louzy state.

Funny to think that all trough the 16 bit era (early nineties) we were hooked on a 8 bit system (and a lot of our friends/schoolmates/neighboors too). A trend that as changed a great deal in the current gaming generation I believe.

Hi Pieter! Thank you for the kind comments, that means a lot. Based on my stats, I knew someone from Belgium had been going through a lot of my reviews. I’m glad you’ve decided to comment and to express your own insights and memories.

Yeah, I’m not surprised that you don’t stumble upon much NES stuff over in Europe. Nintendo has always seemed like they didn’t know what to do with the European market, as a whole (they still don’t, IMO, but they’re doing better than they were twenty-five years ago). I’m glad the Master System thrived somewhere. If it hadn’t, I wonder if we would have gotten the Mega Drive/Genesis.

Hi Dylan,

I’ve been re-reading all your blog entries (hey it’s quiet at work this time of year).
I’m sure you really want to go back and look at this game hehe.
But I think this is the only ‘Sports pad’ game you didn’t go back and update.
Your call if your going it’s just the completionist in me screaming.

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