Blogging live to you and yours! It’s your boy TWOTALL4UFOOL! This month for the retro game review it will be a guest post. Brandon from The Old School Game Vault was nice enough to write a review for this game Blades of Steel. I hope you all enjoy it. Before I get into his review I’ll do what I do for all my reviews and give some facts about the game. A gameplay video may come a little later on so do check back. Check out his website by the way. It’s really awesome especially if you are into retro gaming.
Release Date: 12/01/1988
ESRB Rating: E
Platforms: Nintendo Entertainment System
Ice Hockey. The only place other than an MMA ring where you’re likely to see rival players beat the absolute daylights out of each other in the name of competition. A fast-paced and exciting affair, ice hockey is a natural fit for video games and Blades of Steel for the NES delivers the thrills and chills.
Released by Konami in 1988, Blades of Steel takes a few cues from Konami’s own Ice Hockey game but puts its own unique spin on most aspects of the game. Blades of Steel is designed to be a near-simulation of the real thing and is undoubtedly one of the best sports games that came out for the NES. The graphics are great, the controls are solid and the ability to engage your friends in smack downs on the ice makes this 8-bit game fun for one and all.
There are a couple of different modes you can play through, and for the competitive types there are three difficulty levels you can test your skills in – Junior, College and Pro. Matches take place over 3 periods, but since the time is sped up you’ll be able to get through games fairly quickly. The teams available are city-based and feature their own distinct color palettes. Nintendo’s hockey featured players with varying strengths, but Blades of Steel’s players are all totally identical in ability, strength and speed.
For a 1988 game, the graphics are decent, with human characters looking distinct and well-drawn. The color palette might get a bit samey, but that’s a minor nitpick.
Undoubtedly, the best part of the game are the fights. After you’ve run into an opponent 3 times in a row, you can initiate a fight. Once a fight is initiated, the screen switches into a 1 v 1 Street-Fighter type scenario where players can settle scores with their fists. You and your opponent have a health bar and are given 3 attacks – high, low and block. Once you deplete your opponent’s health bar, they get sent to the penalty box and you get the puck, an opportunity to turn the power play to your advantage and earn your place in the halls of ice hockey glory. While this mechanic might seem a little simplistic by today’s standards, it is a fantastic addition to the game and keeps things fresh and exciting.
The sound in Blades of Steel has moments of brilliance and mediocrity. The voices you hear are incredibly well rendered for what the hardware was capable of. However, every other sound in the game is either generic or low-quality. Crowds don’t sound too great, there’s no music to spice up the action and the odd effect sound you’ll hear is unremarkable. Oh, and Konami also shoehorned in an advertisement for Gradius and callbacks to other Konami games. Well done.
Blades of Steel is fast, as an ice hockey game should be. Passing the puck from player to player and braving a stellar defense to score is exhilarating (especially on Pro difficulty). The controls complement the action well and really give you the feel of being a rockstar on the ice. Having a friend over to play against makes the game shine even brighter.
Overall, Blades of Steel is one of the best sports games to have come out for the NES and if you’re looking for a couple of hours of fun, it’s well worth your time. That, and punching an errant opponent in the mouth because they dared to bump into you never gets old. Good times!
Written by Brandon from The Old School Game Vault where you can buy and sell video games online. From all the classics titles from years past to present. Thanks to Justin for letting me share this review with his readers.