Review by Psycho Penguin

"A fun and VERY addictive hockey game"

I have never really been a huge fan of hockey, although I have always been a fan of sports in general. I have never been a huge fan of hockey, but to say I have never been a fan of hockey at all would be a huge blatant lie. The fact of the matter is, I like hockey. I used to be a hockey player myself, in fact. And while I do consider the game to be rather boring to watch on television, I am still a pretty big fan of it. My favorite team is the Pittsburgh Penguins, and they have been for many years. So, I have been a pretty big follower of the sport.

I remember my friend Charles and I went to a video store about six months ago and found a whole slew of NES games. One of our favorite pastimes was playing the old NES, so we figured we should get some old NES games. The store manager came up to us and said we could buy all those games for 50 bucks. Now, there must have been 100 games there, so we agreed and paid him the money. We went back to his house and discovered that not only did we get Ice Hockey, but also Blades of Steel, as well.

I had heard a lot about this game, and expected great things from it. After all, I had really enjoyed Ice Hockey, and I had heard that Blades of Steel was even better than Ice Hockey. So, of course I was stoked about this game. How could I not be? It seemed like a really fun and enjoyable game, so we automatically booted it up to try the game out. It turns out that we really had a fun time playing this game. Sure, the game moved kind of fast and it was way too easy to score goals (instantly making it a game completely the opposite of Ice Hockey, its counterpart of sorts), but it was still a very fun game to play that I enjoyed playing a lot. The fighting was perhaps the best part of it but there was a lot of other good points to the game, as well.

There is not many story line aspects to this game, but what do you expect? It is a hockey game after all, and sports games usually do not feature any main story lines besides ''take your team to the championship!''. So, basically, the story line of this game is to take your team to the Stanley Cup finals and win it. It is simple enough, and I certainly did not expect anything more from the story line of the game.

The graphics to the game are actually pretty good and definitely looks better than Ice Hockey. The game has a side view to it, which means that you see the players ahead of you, and they move left and right. It does not take much time to get used to at all, even if you are accustomed to the up and down perspective of some of the hockey games on the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo. (I know this because I was in that situation, as well.) There were a lot of different elements to the graphics of the game so I will discuss them all now.

The character designs in the game are, as you may expect, hockey players. And they definitely looked pretty solid, although the small look of them didn't exactly help them out when it comes to the amount of detail found in them. All of the players virtually looked the same (except for the different colored uniforms, as you may expect), and they were pretty small, as you may expect (again, is it just me or am I becoming a broken record?). The referee is little and skates around in his normal striped outfit, just like any other NHL referee. I was not that impressed with the character designs but they are really not that bad.

The coolest part of the graphics in the game are the fighting graphics. The game's camera suddenly zooms in close and shows the two men fighting and duking it out. It is pretty cool because the variety of character designs definitely shows in these graphical scenes. The scenes are not that great but are pretty well done. I liked the title screen a lot, as the Blades of Steel logo looked pretty neat, especially with the nice clashing of colors. The thing I was most impressed about the graphics was the fact that there was barely any slowdown or anything featured in this game. I am definitely a fan of this, as slowdown and other graphical problems would probably suck the fun right out of what was otherwise an extremely fun game.

The music in the game is pretty well done. I especially like how the developers of the game did not try to distract the game player by forcing them to listen to a boring, repetive song that could distract them during the actual game. I do like how four main songs were included to listen to in between plays, like during faceoffs and stuff. My favorite song of the bunch was the charge song that played during faceoffs, you know the song. It was pretty cool, and I remember screaming charge right during the part where the crowd is supposed to say charge. Talk about your mark out moments :).

The sound effects in the game are about average quality. I did not like much sound effects in the game a lot, but the announcing was pretty cool. However, as you may expect, the announcing quality was not that good, at all. The sound was kind of muzzled and muffled, which means it did not sound all that great. I like how the main title screen said ''Blades of Steel''.. it actually sounded somewhat like ''Blades of Steel'' and not ''Crates of Beans'' or whatever it could have possibly sounded like. The rest of the sound effects in the game are your basic hockey game fare, although they do sound pretty good. The sound of the referee blowing his whistle was pretty neat, although it did not sound terribly innovative (''Oh wow! A whistle being blown by the referee! How cool is that?'') but overall I was impressed by the sound effects of the game.

I was not terribly impressed with the controls in the game, although they were certainly not as bad as certain other reviewers claimed. It was easy enough to do all the basic things like move the puck around by passing, and shooting, as well. The puck did move kind of fast, as did the rest of the game, but it was not terribly fast or anything of the like. If you want to score a goal, you need to aim the arrow into the side of the goal that is not being defended. It may seem complicated at first but once you get the hang of it you will discover that it is actually pretty simple to do these things. The penalty shots are not the most challenging things to do, and controlling your characters during these shots is not that challenging, at all. Like I said, the control is not perfect, but it is not that bad.

Now, onto the actual basic game play of the game. I will talk about the modes and features of the game first. Unlike Ice Hockey, this game actually uses real team names, well not really. Instead, it uses cities to represent the various teams. Yes, there is no more Team A and Team B to worry about. The cities used in this game are New York, Chicago, L.A., Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton, Vancouver, and Minnesota. Of course there is little difference in the eight teams other than the colors of their uniforms, but that was the case in most early sports games. I wish there would have been rankings and stuff, but then again why choose a team with a lower ranking when there were only eight teams to begin with? So, it kind of makes sense why they didn't include rankings and stuff.

There is a lot of extra cosmetic stuff to this game that I never really understood the point of, so i will bring it up. The players skate around the ring before each period, which gets terribly annoying after a while. And when they score a goal, the person that scored the goal skates to the center of the ring, where he is surrounded by his fellow teammates that just start cheering around him. I remember my friend was down 11-0 with 3 seconds or so to go and he scored a goal and the players started celebrating like there was no tomorrow. I got annoyed by this fairly quickly, and I still do not see the point to this kind of cosmetic stuff.

The game moved at a lightning fast speed in terms of game speed, timer speed, and goals speed. There are a lot of goals scored, and the timer moves pretty fast. And the game zooms along at a fairly fast pace, which is awesome because slowdown barely affects the game, which means the game is a lot more fun than your average hockey game. It is definitely more fun and exciting than watching a hockey game on television, because most of those games move along at a fairly slow and dare I say boring pace, while this game moves along much faster. There are 20 minute periods, but the clock moves so fast that you should be able to complete an entire game in 20 minutes, even with all the random skating around the rink and scoring celebrations.

One of the coolest aspects of this game was the fighting. In Ice Hockey, when two players collided they would just fight and nothing would really happen. But in this game, it is a whole lot cooler. When the players collided, the camera shifted up close and suddenly the game became a one on one affair. You would have to press the buttons down pretty hard in order to win the fight, but it was definitely fun. I like especially how the players would throw their gloves down before duking it out, it was a nice added effect that really gave the game a more realistic feeling to it. The winner of the fight would get all the glory, and the loser would go to the penalty box for a few minutes. This is different than actual hockey, as you may know, because in hockey, both players would go to the box, regardless who won or who lost. So, the game is not totally realistic, but maybe that is a good thing.

This game definitely features a high amount of replay value, as you will want to play this game a lot after you first get it. I remember after my friend and I bought this game we played it for nearly six hours straight. And the collection of games we bought was not too shabby, as it included such classics as the aforementioned Ice Hockey, as well as Legend of Zelda and other classics. If that is not a testament to the high amount of replay value that this game provides the player, then I do not know what is. This was an extremely fun and addicting hockey video game that I would still gladly play, even today.

The challenge level to this game is not that high. There are three levels of difficulty in this game and that decides the challenge of the game. Overall, neither setting is too difficult. You basically had to figure out how to play the game before really working on it, because actually the basic game play of this game was not that challenging, at all. Once you figured out how to do stuff like shooting and passing, the game should come simple to you. I used to score a lot of goals, but I gave up a lot of goals, as well (a lot more goals than I should have given up), and that was about the basis of the challenge level of the game: it should have been more challenging on offense and less challenging on defense. Oh well, not every game is perfect.

Overall, I really was impressed by this game, as I feel it is a really fun game with a lot of good points and few flaws. it is one of the most addictive video games ever made, that is for sure, and for pure hockey fun, only Ice Hockey even comes close. Yes, I will go on record and say this is my second favorite hockey game of all time. The only hockey game that outdoes this game is, you guessed it, Ice Hockey. However, I feel that is truly a game on its own level, so of course I am going to like this game more than I like that one. That does not mean this game is bad or anything, because it is truly an all time classic, and you should definitely consider buying this game, especially if you are a hockey fan who owns a NES.

Good Points
-The music and sound effects in the game are pretty good.
-The game is highly entertaining and very fun to play.
-The replay value and challenge levels of the game are top notch.
-I really liked the graphics in the game, and liked how they did not suffer from any problems whatsoever.

Not So Good Points
-The game could have used a little more depth.
-The fighting got boring after a while.
-I still enjoyed Ice Hockey more than this game.

I Run Down the Ratings... DaLadiesMan Style!
Story Line - Not Available
Graphics - 8.2/10
Music - 8.3/10
Sound Effects - 9.1/10
Control - 9.1/10
Game Play - 9.2/10
Replay Value - Above Average (Mike Sanders)
Challenge - Above Average (Mike Sanders)
Is this game worth a purchase? - Definitely.
Overall - 9.2/10

The Last Line
I had heard a lot of great things about this game, so I expected a lot out of this game. Maybe I expected too much, but I don't think so. I was really impressed by this game as it turned out, because it was very fun and very addictive. And I cannot discount the fact it had killer graphics and awesome music, either. Overall, I just really enjoyed playing this game, and think it is definitely a worthwhile purchase.

And that's a Ladies Man guarantee!

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 12/14/00, Updated 07/16/01

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