Finding sports roguelite games are like finding a needle in a haystack: you rarely see one. I can only name a few of them off the top of my head: two of them are golf games (Cursed to Golf and Golfie), and the other, surprisingly, is an NBA Jam-like game called RoboDunk. I couldn’t think of another sports roguelite other than those 3.
When I heard that a hockey-based roguelite by the name of Tape to Tape, I was super excited, not just because, like I said, sports roguelites are rare, but also because I LOVE playing those NHL games back in the SNES and PS1 days, so when an opportunity came to review the game, I didn’t hesitate to grab it!
Loony goony cartoony visuals
Straight up, the game’s visuals aren’t something worth going crazy for, but I think it gets the job done. If I’m going to rate it, I’d say it is around 8 or even a 9, because while it’s not the best, it does a great job putting life into the characters, not just the protagonists, but the enemies as well. Even the bench players look like they’re really part of the team. Truth be told, their faces are something only their mother would love, and that’s actually a good thing in this case!
The visual effects and animations though need a bit more polish, I think. Since the game is closer to an arcade-type game than a hockey simulator, it would benefit greatly from it having more flash and pizzazz in its visual effects. The animation flat-out needs more work though. One of the most satisfying things to do in this game is body-checking opponents, and the sound effects are on point, but once you do the deed, the enemy just lays flat on the floor. It would be cool if there are varying reactions to getting hit, not to mention some additional animation frames would be a huge plus!
The meat of the game is, of course, the game itself, and I must say the core game is amazing! I feel like I’m really playing those old-school NHL games of the past, and that’s always a compliment!
The enemy AI are no pushover, but by no means are they unfair or even overpowered. You have to really plan how to attack their defense in order to score, especially at the earlier stages when you haven’t had any additional talents or artefacts yet. The further you go, the more powerups you get, but the harder the enemies become. In a way, you’re in this endless state of fighting enemies on equal footing, and that shows how great the game’s balance is.
I really like the decision they made to make skill cooldowns incredibly short. They make a lot of difference in getting the advantage but keep in mind that despite this, you’re still not 100% certain of getting a goal. You still have to work for it, and I like that.
Lastly, after playing a good amount of games, I’m happy to tell everyone that not once have I experienced any FPS drops or something of the like. The game is optimized beautifully, which is very important to fast-paced games like hockey.
One of the roguelite aspects of this game are the characters you get to unlock, and I love the character variety. As mentioned earlier, they look amazing, plus each one plays different. You have Rory, Angus’ brother, with balanced stats, Calvin Dord is the crazy-accurate sniper, Kelly Jelly is the ultimate speedster on the ice but has absolutely 0 power, and more.
Other characters include a guy who looks like he came from an 80s movie, a full-fledged good, and a referee. That’s right, you actually can select a freakin’ referee to be your teammate! How awesome is that?
Rogue-lite? More like rogue-yikes!
As a writer for a website dedicated to roguelite games, it pains me dearly to say that the biggest weak point of this game is its roguelite elements. Let me explain:
At the moment, you have three ways to improve your future runs: unlock new skills, improve your main character’s stats, and unlock new teammates. I feel like the unlockables are inconsistent in the sense that you’re not going to be able to choose the skill or teammate you’ll unlock at every run, but you’ll always use your main character every run, so while new skills and characters are fun, the obvious choice is to max out your character’s attributes first before unlocking everything.
The other issue is that the overworld map, which is similar to Slay the Spire’s, has very few routes to take, and when I say very few, I mean you only get to choose between 2 to 3 routes, then these routes converge into one after that. Also, the choices are somewhat imbalanced. The choices you have are between an event, a “First to 1” goal challenge where if you win, you get to have a talent plus 3 pucks (the game’s roguelite currency), and a Rest point where you either can boost your entire team by +8 of a certain attribute or +4 overall. Most of the time, the events are negative which is very sad because it’s supposed to be the most roguelite-ish choice among the three. Besides that, I hope there are more routes, as well as more choices.
Sports roguelite games are very rare and often amount to something special. Tape to tape is no exception. Tape to Tape is an amazing hockey game with an amazing plethora of characters and skills, fast-paced action, and the enemy AI is very challenging but never unfair. You can feel a sense of improvement as you play more and more, both in your in-game mechanics and actual stats, which is what roguelite games are all about.
I know I focused on its roguelite elements quite a bit, but if you noticed, that’s only one flaw that I pointed out, and, mind you, that is very fixable. Once that has been improved, we have ourselves an insanely addicting game that wouldn’t surprise me if it ranks high amongst the best roguelite releases this year.
Tape to Tape (Early Access)
Slap-shooting, body-checking fun!
+ Nice visuals and sound effects
+ Incredible game balance
+ Unique and memorable characters
+ Incredibly optimized
– Roguelite elements need improvement