The Nintendojo Interview: Loren Lemcke

The Super Blood Hockey developer talks violence, physical releases and NHL favorites!

By Marc Deschamps. Posted 05/09/2019 07:00 Comment on this     ShareThis

It’s a great time to be a hockey fan. While spring always brings with it the NHL playoffs, this year is a little more special thanks to the recent release of Super Blood Hockey on Switch. The arcade throwback gave the system its first great representation of the sport, and we had the fortune to discuss the title with developer Loren Lemcke.

Nintendojo: First of all, congrats on the release of Super Blood Hockey! What made you decide to make an arcade hockey game?

Loren Lemcke: I was motivated to make a hockey game because the genre had been rather neglected for the past ten years or so. I personally lost interest in the increasingly bloated, simulation heavy hockey games that EA has been producing so I saw this as an opportunity to make something quite different within the genre.

ND: Obviously Super Blood Hockey owes a lot to classic hockey games. Which ones directly inspired you?

LL: There is a specific sub-genre of retro ice hockey games that serves as the primary influence for Super Blood Hockey. Specifically in the 80’s and early 90’s there were 2D hockey games that had a pong-paddle style mechanic for goal tending, among these are NES Ice Hockey, Blades of Steel, Sega’s Great Ice Hockey, Hat Trick in the arcade, and a few others. I feel this goalie-as-a-pong-paddle mechanic leads to very satisfying and meaningful gameplay, as opposed to shooting for a goal and letting some RNG dice roll determine the success or failure of a shot. There are also a bunch of other influences such as NHL 94, NBA Jam, Mortal Kombat and Mutant League Hockey.

ND: One thing I really loved about Super Blood Hockey is the satirical lens the game views its violence through. I never expected a hockey game to poke fun at the American healthcare system, but I think it really gives the game a unique perspective. What made you decide to incorporate these sorts of elements?

LL: The omnipresent evil of profit-motive haunts the US Healthcare system and poisons our compassion by injecting into us the necessary machinery to dehumanize others. One doesn’t have to dig very deep to discover a terrifying crypt of nightmarish and surreal ordeals inflicted upon the sick and dying in the name of profit. Super Blood Hockey is a mere cartoonish effigy of the very real kafkaesque horrors levied upon the poor.

ND: The NHL has made considerable strides to play down the violent elements of professional hockey. In 2019, do you think there’s still room for the physical elements of the sport?

LL: I think there exists a reasonable balance between the safety and the physicality of the sport. There certainly have been many good advancements in the sport that have improved the safety while not detracting from the essence of the sport. I think the NHL should strive to reduce unnecessary injury and risk, while researching the dangers to keep players fully informed of their decision to skate onto the ice and what that might entail.

ND: While drug use and steroid testing have been a source of controversy in professional baseball for decades, their use in the game of hockey is significantly underplayed. Was the prohibition of drugs but lack of drug testing in Super Blood Hockey intended as a wink at that?

Yes, the revenue a sport can generate can be greatly influenced by extreme athletic performances that are often a product of such drugs. Many sports indirectly encourage the use of these substances while outwardly decrying their use. What they really mean to say is that cheating is okay, but getting caught is not. The organizers of the International League of Blood Sports simply bypassed this conundrum.

ND: Were there any elements you wanted to incorporate into the game that didn’t make the cut, for whatever reason?

LL: There were tons of features and ideas that I had to cut, the biggest one being the Story Mode. However, I managed to salvage some limbs from the corpse of the Story Mode and transfigurate it into the Franchise Mode. As a solo developer, I am very much limited by my own time and effort. There is only so much that I can do, so lots of cuts have to be made.

ND: Is there any interest on your part in a physical release for Super Blood Hockey?

LL: I am definitely interested. However, I haven’t had a chance to even wrap my head around what that might entail because we still have the Xbox and PlayStation ports to contend with. Once the dust has settled I will definitely explore options to make this a reality.

ND: Being able to turn off the blood in Exhibition Mode is a nice option for families, but the M-rating is probably going to make most steer clear regardless. Now, I really like how dark Franchise Mode gets, but did you ever consider maybe selling Exhibition Mode without the blood? I’m not sure if the economics would be feasible, but it’s a fun hockey game regardless and eShop doesn’t have a lot of sports offerings. Theoretically, you could call it Super Hockey, sell it for cheaper with the option to upgrade later and it might be worth the hassle.

LL: You know, I have had some similar thoughts and I think you are spot on. I considered reskinning SBH into a more family friendly game, like “Super Buddy Hockey”, (though maybe that is too confusingly similar and could make somebody buy the wrong game xD). It’s definitely a possibility, though I am not sure if repackaging a game would be frowned upon by people or not.

ND: What comes next for you as a developer?

LL: I have another title in the works called Terror of Hemasaurus, which is my take on the kaiju/monster-attacks-a-city genre. It is still very early in development, but those interested can take a look at it here:

After that I have plans to expand Super Blood Hockey into an entire franchise of sports titles. An American Football rendition is probably up next.

ND: Is Terror of Hemasaurus planned for Switch?

LL: It’s too early to say for sure if it will come out on Switch but I definitely want to release it there!

ND: Last but not least, who are you pulling for in the Stanley Cup finals?

LL: Well, I was rooting for the Islanders, but now I am not sure.

We’d like to once again thank Loren Lemcke for taking the time to talk to us! Super Blood Hockey is available now on Nintendo eShop.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Log In 0 points Log in or register to grow your Ninja Score while interacting with our site.
Nintendojo's RSS Feeds

All Updates Podcast
News Comments
Like and follow usFacebookTwitter Friend Code Exchange + Game with Us Join the Team!