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Blades of Steel
Developer(s)Konami
Publisher(s)Konami
Year released1988
System(s)Famicom Disk System, NES, Commodore 64, Commodore Amiga, MS-DOS, Wii
Genre(s)Hockey
Players1-2
TwitchBlades of Steel (NES) Channel
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This guide is for the home version release. For the arcade release, see Blades of Steel.

After Konami hit upon a successful formula for basketball with Double Dribble, they went on to create a hockey game in a similar vein. The result was Blades of Steel, later released in Japan as Konamic Ice Hockey (コナミック アイスホッケー?), an ice hockey game released by Konami for North American arcades in 1987, and ported to the Famicom Disk System and NES in 1988. All teams are fictional but based out of real Canadian and American cities. In comparison to Nintendo's own entry of the sport, Ice Hockey, Blades of Steel focuses more on a less-cartoony look and more realistic presentation. The game is known for its fast paced hockey action and for the inclusion of fights that break out between opposing players.

Blades of Steel differs from the professional game in the NHL in the late 1980s in that it has no offside rule, and its interpretation of penalties is somewhat unique. The game's officials only call two penalties. Players who lose a fistfight are penalized for two minutes, an abstract reworking of the five-minute offsetting majors normally assigned in the event of a fight. Should a fight break out in front of one team's net, then the player on offense gets a penalty shot. The penalty shot is administered in the style of a soccer penalty shot, in that the shooting player must stand on the blue line, instead of moving towards the goaltender. The game also recognizes icing infractions, with an appropriate game reset and faceoff in the liable team's zone.

Blades of Steel has been well received by critics, regarded not only as a good hockey game for the NES, but also as one of the best hockey games ever created. The NES conversion remains faithful to the original arcade version, while also introducing some new concepts, including a mini-game based upon the boss battle in Gradius. The NES version was re-released on Nintendo's Virtual Console service on December 24, 2007.

Controls[edit]

  • Neutral dpad: Use the direction pad to control the player on your team who is currently in possession of the puck, or the player who is outlined in a blinking light while on defense. Every player can be directed to skate in eight different directions around the rink. You must also use the direction pad to control the movement of the goalie, who is confined to the area in front of the goal.
  • A button: Press the A button to shoot the puck toward the goal. The puck will automatically move to the location of the flashing arrow in front of the goal. Time your shot so that the arrow is farther away from the goalie.
  • B button: Press the B button to pass to a nearby teammate. The puck will only be passed if you are facing a teammate. If you are not, the puck will fly off in the direction you are facing. On defense, press the B button to switch control from the current player to whichever teammate is closest to the puck.
  • Start button: Press the Start button to begin a new game, or to pause the action mid-game. Also press Start to skip the intermissions.
  • Select button: Press the Select button on the main menu to choose between a one or two player game.

Settings[edit]

When starting a single player game, the player must choose between exhibition mode or tournament mode. In exhibition mode, the player plays through one single game. In tournament mode, all eight teams compete in an elimination tournament with the winner advancing to the next round of competition until only one team wins the championship. After choosing between these two modes, the player then chooses which level of difficulty to play. From easiest to hardest, the choices are: Junior, College, and Pro. In a two player game, only exhibition mode is available.

The next selection to make is the teams. Every team in this game is virtually identical in all aspects except for appearance. While not specifically based on particular teams, the colors chosen reflect notable sports franchises that belong to the city in question.

City Colors Team Homage
New York Blue & Red New York Rangers (NHL)
Chicago Red & Grey Chicago Blackhawks (NHL)
Los Angeles Yellow & Indigo Los Angeles Kings (NHL)
Montréal Amber & Coral Red Montréal Maroons (NHL)
Toronto Teal & Sky Blue Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL)
Edmonton Bright Green & Yellow Edmonton Eskimos (CFL)
Vancouver Burnt Orange & Forest Green Vancouver Canucks (NHL)
Minnesota White & Purple Minnesota Vikings (NFL)

Gameplay[edit]

Blades of Steel NES screen.png

Throughout the game, you are shown a countdown of how much time is remaining in the period. It's starts out with 20 minutes, but it counts down significantly faster than normal. Ten seconds of game time is slightly longer than one second of real time.

Play begins when the referee drops the puck between two opposing players in a face off. You can rapidly tap B button, or attempt to accurately time your press when the puck hits the ice. Whoever presses B button the fastest after the puck hits the ice gets control over the puck.

While on offense, the goal is to drive or pass the puck closer to your opponent's goal, and shoot the puck past the goalie and into the goal. When shooting the puck, pay attention to the arrow that moves up and down in front of the goal. When you shoot the puck, it will automatically move to the location of the arrow. You must try to time your shots so that the arrow is not being blocked by the goalie.

Blades of Steel NES minigame.png

When on defense, the goal is to check and push players with the puck out of the way in order to steal control of the puck away. In addition to controlling one of the skaters, you also have simultaneous control over the goalie. The goalie will move in the directions that you press, so make sure to position him in front of the arrow that moves back and forth in front of the net if the opposing team is about to shoot.

When the second period ends, you are presented with one of two possible intermissions. In one intermission, you can observe a puck shooting bear. However, in the second intermission, you actually get to play a recreation of the boss battle from Gradius on the score board. In this game, you must destroy the barriers that protect the core of the large ship, and then destroy the core itself before you get hit. After either intermission is finished, you are presented with advertisements for the NES conversions of Contra and Jackal. Pressing Start button at any time will interrupt either intermission and return the game to the start of the final period.

Fights and Shoot-outs[edit]

Blades of Steel NES fight.gif

As in the original arcade game, it is possible for two players to come to blows over the puck. If this happens, progress in the game will pause while a zoomed in view of the two fighters is shown. During the fight, each player has a vitality meter and can sustain five hits before being knocked out. You can press B button to throw a punch, and you can press A button to block hits. You can also press Up dpad and Down dpad to direct punches and blocks to the face or stomach respectively. The loser of a fight is hauled off the rink by the referee and penalized for two minutes (not in real time, but in game time, which is much faster.)

However, if the referee intervenes in the fight before the camera zooms in, or if the game ends in a tie, a shoot-out occurs. In this mode, the player on offense, must use the direction pad to send the puck in one of nine directions, while the player on defense must use the direction pad to position the goalie in a way that can block two of the nine possible directions. If the game ends in a tie, both players get to take five shots on the opponent's goal in order to determine the winner.