EA drops gloves with NHL Arcade

Downloadable 3-on-3 pucks game to hit Xbox 360, PS3 in February; next game on Freestyle label to sell for $10.

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Eight years ago, Electronic Arts dabbled in the arcade-style hockey subgenre with NHL Rock the Rink, an "extreme" original PlayStation game that featured no rules and over-the-top special dekes and powered-up body checks. Although the game was certified "great" by at least one reviewer, EA never produced a sequel.

That puck is going straight through the massive gaps on that goalie mask.
That puck is going straight through the massive gaps on that goalie mask.

Today the publisher revealed its return to the neglected genre, announcing that 3 on 3 NHL Arcade will be available on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 downloadable storefronts in February. EA is emphasizing the game's accessibility, noting that players will be able to jump in with simple button controls or an adapted version of the "skill stick" dual analog-stick control scheme from NHL 09.

With no rules to slow down the game (or protect goalies), every player on the ice will be subject to bone-crunching body checks. A smaller rink size means less room to run from those checks as well. EA is also including power-ups that will fall on the ice throughout the game and "exaggerated" player proportions (see picture). Online multiplayer will be available, with a team of up to three players able to play from a single console.

Furthermore, 3 on 3 NHL Arcade will feature 40 different NHL players pulled from every team in the league. However, an EA representative confirmed for GameSpot that actual NHL teams will not be included in the game. Screenshots released so far show players wearing generic red and blue jerseys.

When 3 on 3 NHL Arcade launches in February under the EA Freestyle label, it will sell for 800 Microsoft points ($9.99).

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