Blades of Steel (NES) Retro Review

Blades of Steel (or Konamic Ice Hockey in Japan) is a 1988 Ice Hockey simulation for the NES developed and published by Konami well known for quick paced action and the ability to start fist fights between 2 opposing players. Note while teams are fictional they are based on locations in the US and Canada.

While the title screen has no music the logo itself was quite nice with its quick animation and how it was voiced (even if voice audio on NES aged insanely). The usual Konami logo at the top is there which is a sign of there games (although I believe it might be copyright protection too). Note as always I cannot play 2 player although in this case I don’t need to.

When you load the menu you’re given the options between exhibition and tournament, with the former being a single game and the latter multiple matches in an attempt to win the cup. Either way you then choose a difficulty between Junior, College and Pro (although I always choose the middle for review purposes). After that its just a case of choosing your team (and the opponents if you’re on exhibition).

Despite the easy looking controls my first match of the review session was absolutely terrible yet I couldn’t really tell if it was the game being difficult or me being bad. From what I could tell I’d get too concentrated on blocking the opponents with whatever player I’m moving that I kept accidentally putting the keeper at the sides and letting them in. Kinda makes me wish it had the AI until chosen mechanics instead of automatically switching but I doubt that could exist in a NES game.

The graphics and music were quite good for its time although I found it odd how much attention to detail they put into Ice Hockey which even included a short little advert for other Konami games being played on a screen at one point. I’d of said it would get annoying at some point but considering the length of each match you’d probably only attempt to do the tournament once every so often.

What sets this apart from most Ice Hockey games is the ability to start fist fights with the opposite team, this happens if you bump into each other enough and honestly ifs super satisfying especially if (like me) you keep losing since I honestly found it the easiest part of the game. In fact you can apparently have 4 of the other players on the floor at once if your fast enough. Amusingly this was supposedly not something just added to the game for the fun of it but based on the fact fights do sometimes start in the real game (although I don’t watch it).

As dumb as it is to say I definitely enjoyed it more when I got more used to how it works and far more concentrated on my own goal keeper. It was especially satisfying to put the difficulty to Junior after finally winning a match in College so I could essentially destroy them. I don’t see me winning the in game tournament mode though.

Overall its an enjoyable game once you learn everything but at first it can be highly frustrating if you didn’t already know about it. I’d still give it a try for the fist fights though, its one of the best parts.


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