Review by KasketDarkfyre

"Who is winning? Who cares!? I wanna fight..."

Hockey games are pretty scares on the NES, but there isn’t one that is better known and more loved than the Blades of Steel. One of the classic Konami games, it featured only a hand full of teams and arcade style action that included the sport of hockey and fighting as well. With some basic control and the use of the fighting as a diversion from the game itself, Blades of Steel has made itself a well played and well loved addition to my library. Although the game does have a couple of flaws to it, there is enough in the play to make those minor flaws disappear and the game just as enjoyable.

Hockey is an easy sport to understand, but a hard sport to master if you’re not used to using ice as your medium for play. While you’re using the ground for football and a floor for basketball, hockey is a game that is played on the ice and requires the skill of skating. Most people get into hockey to watch the game for some skillful use of a stick and the powerful slap shots of the stars that populate the sport. Other people, such as myself, watch the games to see just how hard the hits will come on and what players get mad enough to throw down their gloves and start brawling.

Playing Blades of Steel doesn’t take a degree in rocket science to fully understand and it only takes a couple of minutes to learn the rules of the game. There is no checking in this game, but you can easily steal the puck away from your opponent if you bump into them enough times. If you happen to bump into them too many times, then you might find yourself on the wrong end of a fighting blow, which does initiate the fighting sequence. Once you have the puck, you only need to get from one end of the ice to the other, passing to your teammates and then shooting the puck at the goal.

The opponents on the other hand will be doing the same thing to you and you will have to learn how to use the goalie to block the shots. When a shot is about to be taken on goal, there is a floating arrow that shows the entry point of the puck into the net. It is up to you and your goalie to stop the puck before it reaches the net and scores a point for the other team, though you can hope to fool the computer goalie into letting one get loose. Passing is something that you will have to learn how to do because it helps to set up the monster plays that will defeat your opponents.

There are two different options and three different difficulties if you’re looking to either play through the tournament session or just a single exhibition game. While the options are nice, the only thing that I like to do is start fighting the minute that I can and it becomes easier when you have the difficulty up at a higher level. The fighting is easy to get the hang of, and it requires you to knock down your opponent first before you deplete all of your own health. This small diversion creates a more realistic game, though I can’t remember the last time a hockey game had fifty-six fights in the span of ten minutes.

Control is essential when you’re trying to set up the big plays and you have to know when to shoot and when to pass the puck. For the most part, you will be shooting the puck, unless you have a teammate open to shoot it in for you. Fighting isn’t all that difficult, with a single button that throws the punch and another than blocks an incoming hit. Something that you should be aware of is that the speed and strength of your shot is determined on how long you hold the shooting button. However, the longer you hold it, the easier it is for the opponents to run into you and take the puck away.

Blades of Steel is a visually sound game with plenty of detail on the players and even with the rink. While the crowds that you’re playing in front of are pretty simple and really have no detail, there is something to be said for them when the screen changes to the fights. The fighting sequences are well drawn and have plenty of fluid motion, though I wish they had included your opponent hitting the ice after you knocked them out. Other various features that the visuals offer is the color of the different teams and the animation of a player winding up to take a big shot on the goal.

The audio is pretty sparse when you start playing with small bits of music coming in while you’re waiting for the game to start and after you’ve either lost a goal to the opponent or gained one on them. Small hockey tunes play when you are successful, but the sweet sounds of silence give way to the sound effects which are more prominent. Sound effects here are key and you will find that there are plenty here that include some voice effects {crude ones} and plenty of sticks slapping the puck. Once you get used to the ambient sounds of the game, then you will probably fall into it without really realizing that they are there.

Blades of Steel is a wonderful hockey game from Konami and deserves a little attention as being one of the better hockey titles available. While I haven’t played Gretzkey hockey yet, this game has plenty of arcade feel to it as well as control and some awesome fighting that serves as a partial diversion. If you’re looking for a game that has something for the hockey fan in all of us, then you will find this title a welcomed addition to your library. If you’re looking for in-depth menus and real player stats, then you need to look elsewhere, cause this is pure arcade action at its finest.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 10/30/03


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