Saturday 10 October 2015

Blades of Steel (NES review)

Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami
Released: 1988

Blades of Steel is an ice hockey game that was first released in the Arcades in 1987.

The two modes are Exhibition (single match) and Tournament where you must beat three teams to win the cup. Offense is superb, particularly passing, as each time you press the B button it lands directly on your team-mates' stick. The skating controls feels just right, it's not overly difficult to score goals and the arcade style gameplay is frantic yet enjoyable. Icing does exist but the game doesn't strictly follow the rules as there's no offsides and no penalties. In fact, when fights break-out an awesome mini-game occurs where you can block or punch high / low until you knock the other player down! On Defense checking and puck attacks are handled automatically and the lack of control means that outcomes aren't always in your hands. The defensive A.I. isn't very bright and they'll often skate away from an attacker leaving you to do all the work yourself. One thing that takes a while to master is the goalie controls; as the opponent gets closer to your net a constantly moving arrow shifts back and forth between both sides of the goal which indicates where their attempted shot will land. However, if you're currently controlling a defender and the CPU fires the puck you have to be very sharp to react as you quickly take control of the goalie. It does work but sometimes you'll let in some cheap feeling goals due to this abrupt shift. There's some decent commentary as well as cool animations on the Jumbotron that are reminiscent of FIFA International Soccer (1993, Mega Drive). There's even a brief side-scrolling shooter you can play as well as advertisements for other Konami games!

Blades of Steel is a fantastic ice hockey game and its 'Arcadey' approach is perfect for those who want something simple and easy to play. The defensive controls do let it down slightly and while it's disappointing it doesn't put too much of a dampener on the rest of the game which is polished and well designed.

Random trivia: The game was also ported to the Amiga, Commodore 64, Game Boy, MS-DOS and Wii Virtual Console.

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