Review by BrandonJ33

"Which is better? This or *Blades of Steel?* This!"

In my humble opinion, *Ice Hockey* by Nintendo is a much more fun game than Konami's *Blades of Steel.* Gameplay is better balanced, characters look DIFFERENT from one another, and the ''score-and-stall'' strategy that could win any game in *Blades* is not evident here.

Let's start at the top... *Ice Hockey* is not going to earn any medals for its depth. I can count the number of modes it offers on one hand. Two. One-player and two-player. No more, no less. When you win a game, you're brought back to the title screen. No ''climbing the ladder'' for the championship... It's a little disappointing, but forgivable.

*Ice Hockey* features fun, not-so-easy, 4-on-4 (not counting goalies) gameplay. 6 international teams are selectable. The only difference between the teams are the colors they are shaded with. Before each game, you get to select the size of your 4 players. You can select from 3 types (fake names used): Big'N'Chunky, Medium-Sized Man, and Stick-Boy. The thinner the player is, the faster he can skate and the less likely he is to win a fight. The heavier a player is, the tougher, slower, and more shot-powerful he is. Changing team members is a pretty cool option, which is not available in *Blades of Steel.*

For your games, two different options are able to be altered. The speed (pretty much difficulty level) of the game can be changed. Also fixable is the amount of time per period. You guessed it... the faster the speed, the more difficult the game is to win.

It can be said that *Blades of Steel* has *Ice Hockey* beaten in the graphics department, but I don't necessarily agree. Sure, the players in *Blades* appear to be more life-like, but *Ice Hockey* isn't necessarily shooting for realism. The players are animated much better in *Ice Hockey* and the rink looks pretty much the same as in Konami's title.

I always hated *Blades of Steel's* shooting system. A little arrow would move up and down near the goal, showing EXACTLY where the shot would go. Hello (!)... the other human-player can see the arrow as well! In *Ice Hockey* The player can shoot in three directions: straight, upper-diagonal, and lower-diagonal. Scoring in games against the computer is not at all easy, but makes the game challenging and just plain fun. All you have to do to succeed in *Blades of Steel* is score a goal and camp out behind your goal while your opponent repeatedly rams into your goalie like a jackass. In *Ice Hockey,* half of the challenge is SCORING that goal.

If two players scuffle long enough for the puck, the entire team will go at it. The best strategy is to keep pounding on the buttons. The ref will eventually get one player out of the ruckus and escort him to a ''two-minute or until opposition scores'' stay in the penalty box.

SOUND/MUSIC

Since I've touched on the graphics and gameplay already, this is the only category left unscathed, thus owning its own. You pretty much get what you expect for a Nintendo game from 1988. No speech, but like I always say, that is no necessity at all. The music is fun and fits very nicely with the theme and style of the game. Nothing is out-of-place. The crowd is done pretty well. In the last two minutes of a close game, they well start cheering. This adds well to the already-great atmospheric equation which *Ice Hockey* possesses.

SUMMARY

Nintendo's first (and only?) hockey title for the NES was a classic one and is still considered to be one of the greatest sports games of all-time. It ranks 94th in the *Top 100 Greatest Video Games of All-Time* which Electronic Gaming Monthly ran in their 100th issue (Nov. 1997).

To me, no hockey game tops NHL 94 for the Sega Genesis. For a differently-styled game of hockey, then pick this game up from funcoland for a measly $3. I think you'll be glad that you did. I sure as heck was!

Forgot to mention... If the score is tied after overtime, then the teams will compete in a shoot-out. Players are magically able to hit the puck 5-times harder and move while they aim.

BEST FEATURE- Simple and easy to get into
WORST FEATURE- Options... or lack thereof

(5/05/00)


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 05/05/00, Updated 05/05/00


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