Blades of Steel Review (Nintendo Entertainment System - NES)
Updated: Nov 20
Game Name: Blades of Steel
Date Released: October 1988 (North America)
The beginning of the game was so memorable that people to this day who played the game remember it. It has a beginning where you tell yourself, "Oh Yeah... I know that one!!!" (Sorry for the Kiss reference here). Then you hear it, "Shiny metal sound... Blades of Steel".
This was my second hockey game that I got to experience. The first hockey game that I played was on the Atari 2600. Until Blades of Steel, I was used to 2 players going around with a puck trying to score with horrible AI. I found this clip below to illustarte what I mean:
Example of Atari Hockey (video by AqualungGameReviews)
So when I played Blades of Steel I was blown away. It had fighting, and somewhat in game commentary with an announcer saying hit the pass, or the crowd going loud on a save by the goalie. I do not know how many times I played with my brother. We had so much fun and for me anyways, this game still holds up. No GM mode, career mode, or online play. This is hockey at its simplest.
There were other games for the NES such as Wayne Gretzky Hockey and Ice Hockey, but this is the one that I always came back to.
The game was initially released for the arcades in 1987. It was named at the time Konamic Ice Hockey. The game was then ported onto 2 systems, the Family Computer DISK System and the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). The game was also released on the Wii's Virtual Console in 2007.
The only other sequal that I am aware of came out for the Nintendo 64 in 1999. The game was called NHL Blades of Steel '99. Notice the NHL in the name. The original game did not have any licences associated with it.
The game starts with that epic beginning that everyone remembers and then you can choose the mode between 1 or 2 players. From here you can choose either an Exhibition game, which is a one off game, or you can choose Tournament which is a playoff tree for the championship. Then you are prompted to choose a level of play: Junior (easy), College (intermediate) and Pro (hard). You have a choice to choose between 8 teams:
Los Angeles and
The controls for the game are quite simple. To move a player you use the D-Pad, up, down, left and right. The B button is used to pass and the A button is used to shoot the puck. When you are close to the net you will notice a moving arrow near the goalie. You need to try to shoot the puck when the needle is not close to the goalie so that you can score.
The part of the game that was innovative at the time was the fighting mechanism. There are three outcomes when the same player hits the opponent player with the puck 3 times. The first one is easy as you just trip and fall. The second is that you get into a fight. If the fight lasts longer than a few seconds, the view changes and you can punch high or low and you can also block puches from your opponent. The loser of the fight goes to the penalty box. The third option is that the referee stops the fight and calls a penaty shot. Then the screen goes to a third person point of view. Then you can shoot top left, middle and right and the same for the bottom. The goalie can go side to side at the bottom of the net and at the top.
Another key to the game, which was innovative at the time is the "Hit the Pass" voice. Nowadays we are used to sports games having fluent commentary, but at the time on an 8-bit chip, this was huge. You can also hear a sampling of a crowd when the goalie makes a save.
If the game finishes in a tie, then like a penalty shot, you go into a shootout. It is so strange to think that they did this to make the game shorter and now in the real NHL shootouts exist for the same reason. This game predicted the future!!! Should have been called Blades of Nostradamous!!!
Gameplay Footage (One Full game on Junior setting)
This game has resisted the test of time. Yes it is true there are not as many stats or modes of play. There is also no online play which could be a good thing (considering the XBOX Live and PSN down time). I love it, because it is just a game that you can pick up and play with a friend or just play a quick tournament. No matter how many times I play this game, it seems to always pull me back in. The controls are very simple and you can't ask more from a game. I challenge you, if you still have this game and console, to pick it up and play. See if you have as much fun as I do.
Rating: 10 slapshots out of 10.
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