Clusterpuck 99 is an eight player, local multiplayer sports game developed by PHL Collective. At its core, Clusterpuck 99 is a stripped down version of hockey; there are two teams which face off against each other with the goal of shooting the puck into the opponent’s goal. Like hockey, you are able to pass the puck to teammates, charge your shot to make it faster, block shots in front of the goal, and tackle opponent players to knock the puck out of their possession. Unlike hockey though, there aren’t hockey sticks, so shooting and handling are much more simplified.
The controls are quite simplistic. You move with the left stick, aim with the right stick, and pass or shoot with the bumpers. Similarly, the presentation is quite simple and minimalistic. The menus are organized nicely with an easy to read font, and arenas are presented in a top-down angle that zooms in whenever all the players are close to the puck.
Clusterpuck 99: Xbox One [Reviewed], PC
Developer: PHL Collective
Publisher: PHL Collective
Release Date: 9 September 2015
Price:£11.99 [Disclosure: Game copy supplied by Publisher]
There are over 30 maps which vary in terms of shape, length, and complexity. Some levels even feature obstacles or hazardous items such as speed boosts, bumpers, spikes and pitfalls. These levels are often more chaotic, as you are attempting to deal not only with your opponents, but also the chaos caused by the obstacles themselves. Each level feels unique and fun, and adds a unique spin on the simple sports formula.
Besides the standard matches, the game offers challenge mode. This mode involves ten mini games which involve hitting targets, defending and blocking shots, and playing matches against AI opponents. Your performance is then graded as bronze, silver, or gold based on how well you did. None of these are particularly challenging, and since there are only ten challenges, it doesn’t take very long to play through them.
Perhaps the most egregious oversight in Clusterpuck 99 is that it only supports local multiplayer. There is no online multiplayer, which is quite disappointing because this game would have benefited greatly from online support. It’s not as exciting or rewarding ducking and weaving past your opponent to score an amazing goal knowing that you did it against an AI opponent. The game does support local multiplayer though, so it can be quite entertaining to play with friends locally since you can also add in AI teammates to even out the teams.
Overall, Clusterpuck 99 is a decent game with a simple concept and design. The ease of the controls and gameplay makes it accessible for just about anyone, and the variety of maps ensures that no two matches ever really feel the same. However, the lack of online mode means that most players are left to play against the A.I. opponents, which can get dull fairly quickly. Clusterpuck 99 seems like something that would be suited more for a tablet or on the phone, because it doesn’t do much to stand out as a sports game. Without online multiplayer support, people who are looking for a simple sports game to play with their online buddies will be sitting on the bench waiting for the next game.