The Hockeywood Video Game Hall of Fame presents: Konami's Blades of Steel

This is the second in an occasional series on the greatest hockey video games of all time. For the first entry, go here.

When I started the compile my short list of hockey video games that I would include in the Hockeywood Video Game Hall of Fame (all rights reserved), there were two games that first came to mind. Konami's Blades of Steel was one of them.

Now if you're an old-school gamer, I'm sure you've played Blades of Steel on the Nintendo. It's one of those games that transcends all platforms, a gold standard, if you will. Originally, it was released as an arcade game, as many games were at the time.

Buoyed by the success of its arcade hit Double Dribble and its subsequent port over to the Nintendo, Konami decided to catch lightning in a bottle again by releasing their hockey game over to the Nintendo system. Not only did they copy their success from Dribble, they surpassed it with Blades, in my opinion. (Then again, I write a hockey blog. What do you expect me to say?)

Having already introduced to hockey by Nintendo's Ice Hockey, I was looking for a more realistic hockey. Such as less cartoony action. more realistic skating, and better adherence to the rules. Simply put, I wanted five men on the ice.

No more playing ike both teams had a man in the box. Four-on-four hockey is too wide open, an opinion I stand by today. Having that fifth guy on the ice really makes it feel like there's traffic in front of the goal. Blades has the feel of real hockey, especially with the addition of fighting.

Ah yes, fighting. The great equalizer. If you were getting your ass handed to you, bump an opposing player three times and, GAME ON! You got that cut-scene where you throw off the gloves, and try to tag your opponent five times, Loser goes to the box, winner gets to keep skating. A simple rule that some fans say the NHL should institute today. The other thing was if you caused too many fights, you would get whistled for roughing. Some would say there's too much fighting in the game. I tell those gamers to shut their pie-holes. It's all part of the game, so nut up and swing your purse, Francine.

Blades was the first hockey game to really focus on the sweet science on the ice. You could aim low and high, block and duck. It was quite ingenious. The format has been copied by several future hockey games, some of which will appear in the Hockeywood Hockey Game hall of Fame. It allowed the most fervert of button-mashers to put their virtual foil on and bring the pain.

Blades also had something Ice Hockey didn't, aggressive artificial intelligence. It was almost harder to play the computer than another human, because at least there's that learning curve for people. The computer was unrelenting, and stopping a puck shot with the goalie was really hard to do. At least you could tone back the difficulty level.

Other than choosing easy, medium and hard (which was distinguished as junior, college and pro), you could select a city. However, only four of the Original teams are on there: New York, Montreal, Toronto and Chicago. No Boston and no Detroit. Suck it, Red Wings. Rounding out the eight teams are Vancouver, Edmonton, Minnesota and... Los Angeles? Look, I'm not complaining, but doesn't L.A. stick out like a sore thumb here? Actually, I think L.A. was included when Gretzky shocked the hockey world and came to L.A.

Each team is represented reasonably close to their real-life colors: NY is blue/red, Chicago is red/gray and L.A. is yellow/blue. We used to pretend the yellow and blue L.A. team was actually the Charlestown Chiefs, and we were playing with the Hansons. But because the game wasn't officially licensed, some of the jerseys were way off. Like Montreal's gold and red outfits. It felt like you were playing with a team of Iron Men. And don't get me started with Edmonton's green and yellow.

Thing was, L.A. switched up their colors when Gretzky came aboard. No longer did they wear the purple and gold uniform, but the sleek black and white unis. So, if you wanted to be L.A., you had to choose between L.A. or Minnesota. For me, personally regional pride was more important than uniform accuracy. Plus, there really wasn't any discrepancy between the teams so it really just came down to personal preference and individual skill.

The controls were realistic as well, as the players took a little time to skate in a particular direction. This was another subtle reason to like the game. The game designers actually factored such movement into the game. The ladder-tiered tournament mode was also a nice touch, allowing players to try to obtain the Stanley... er, Konami Cup.

The game was also one of the first games to include voice sampling on the NES. Just the opening "BLADES OF STEEL" just begs for players to mimic it. The one thing I never understood was the constant "...with the puck" whenever you had a successful pass. It almost sounds like the computer is asking "what the *uck."

Blades of Steel deserves to have its own wing in the Hockeywood Video Game Hall of Fame. Widely considered one of the cornerstone games of any sports gamer enthusiast, Blades is quite possibly the greatest hockey gamer ever made. Don't believe me? Play it for yourself online for free.
 

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Comments

  • February 24, 2009 2:21 PM bk wrote:
    he wasn't saying "with the puck", he's saying "makes the pass!"
    EVERY TIME, I think it added intensity when you strung a bunch together in a row
    Reply to this
  • February 24, 2009 4:38 PM Doug wrote:
    I'm a Jackets fan, myself, but I was directed over here by Puck Daddy. This entry was hil-freakin-arious and a good flashback.
    Reply to this
  • September 9, 2010 7:40 PM Rotheblog wrote:
    I have fond memories of this game growing up, the flashing players in particular. But Konami always had the best games in terms of fun. Was it Blades of Steel that had the reaaaallly cheesy National Anthem intro?
    Reply to this
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