Where Nintendo tried to bring a more true hockey feel to the NES with Ice Hockey, Konami brought a true and pure arcade hockey game to the NES that sets the bar for all other hockey games on the 8-bit system.
Blades of Steel, or as I like to call it, Blades of Awesome (sounds like a Final Fantasy character-Ed), is the 1988 Arcade style hockey game that not only brought 6 on 6 hockey at a fast and furious pace, but also was the first hockey game on the NES to have fighting. The graphics look typical for Konami games to a point you think there are 12 Simon Belmonts from Castlevania skating around.The controls are tight and all the skaters have a response to them like you would skating around on ice, none of this turn on a dime skating game here.
There are 3 levels of game play, Junior (high school), College and Pro. No matter what level you pick, you have the same 8 cites to choose from: Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Edmonton, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Minnesota.There are no pro names or logos since this is not an officially licensed game, which can be a little of a let down but it takes nothing away from this great game. If you are not familiar with arcade style sports games, you pretty much throw out all the strategy that goes into sport and instead you just want to score. Blades of Steel is pass’n’shoot as often as you can and the game will make you work for the goals.
The challenge of the game is not so much how well you skate and shoot, but more of controlling the goalie. Now it is not the hardest thing to do being a goalie, the game does have a Â moving arrow below the goalie helping you show when you have a open net to shoot at or defend. Another challenge is that the game will not let you get to big of a lead, the famous rubber band effect that was common in the old games. If you are lucky enough to get a 5 goal lead, you can pretty much figure on the computer getting within 1 goal before the end of the period. But in racing games and other sports game players can find this to be a problem, I really found it to be OK with Blades. I guess because I was so into playing it that, I liked the idea of the final score being a nail bitter and as I am a hockey fan, I am used to those 1-0, 2-1 sort of scores.
This is a perfect pick-up and play game for a single player but with a friend this game shines, even if you or your friends are not fans of hockey. I really think more hockey games out today should take a cue from Blades of Steel on how to make it simple, fast and fun to play. If you have never played a hockey game before or have tried the others, it is time to try the best.