Summer of Love: Blades of Steel

Blades of Steel Theme Song

I love Blades of Steel, it still stands as one of the greatest console games of the 1980s, and I’ve been waiting for a DJ to discover and remix all the sound effects into a chart topping hit. I mean this game is full of audio clip classics, like…

“Hit the pass”

Blades of Steel – Hit the Pass

“Face off!”

Blades of Steel – Faceoff

“Fight”

Or just a basic “Ahhhhhh”

Blades of Steel – Knockout

And I have the opening Blades of Steel Anthem playing in this post by default because it is that good. Fact is, Blades of Steel was an all around game, the play was both quick and technically simple, while at the same time challenging. What’s more, it was a hockey game where you could actually fight your opponent, and the fight sequence was awesome, best part of the whole thing was that the loser gets thrown into the penalty box—gives you quite an incentive to win. The penalty shot scenario was both well done, and downright exciting with six areas to aim and shoot the puck. It was only available when you were decked on a break away or when the game was tied after three periods of play. What was even more intense than taking penalty shots, though, was being the goalie trying to defend against the penalty shot.

I got Blades of Steel for NES for Xmas of 1988, and played it regularly for over two years. In fact, in 1990, when I moved to Long Beach California, my brother and I spent a large amount of out time fighting it out on the ice—I was always Chicago for some reason (I think I liked their red and gray uniforms), and he had a weird affection for Vancouver. Needless to say I owned him at the game, he got the nickname penalty box Billy given how often I beat his ass in the fight sequences. What’s crazy about Hockey video games since the late 80s and early 90s is that the big franchises like EA Sports NHL Series got rid of fighting as of 1994. How can you just pretend “the code” doesn’t exist in a video game? Reminds me of this clip from Swingers:

If you haven’t played Blades of Steel, you really should. Here is a link to both an NES emulator (the previous link is for a Mac emulator, but there are emulators for other platforms there as well) and here’s the ROM, enjoy yourself. And if you are too lazy for that, play it online here.

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5 Responses to Summer of Love: Blades of Steel

  1. Luke says:

    Sweet. There really was a two year period at the end of the 80s when NES was #1 for sports games. I never had one (I was a C 64 guy, playing Summer/Winter Games, One on One, and some weird baseball game), but many friends did.

    Then Sega Genesis really took over. I remember being blown away when EA Sports NHL Hockey came out. Looking at Blades of Steel, or Double Dribble, or Tecmo Bowl, the leaps in control and game play and strategy between those games and the EA franchises (NHL, Madden, and a bit later, FIFA and College Football), reinforces how fast that market developed and evolved (and then was really locked down for a generation by EA). Your memory of beating your brother’s ass in the game (and probably a few times in real life because of the game) opens a window to my own adolescence, and memories of rug burns on my elbows and sore thumbs from hours on the floor playing one and done with friends….

    • Reverend says:

      Yeah,
      The EA Sports games blew me away, and Madden and NHL (even sans fighting) still rank up there as two of the best games of all time (I still buy Madden yearly). But I think my soft spot for NES is that it was really the first resurgence of gaming after the original video game/atari/arcade craze from 1980-1984. Video games lost their cache until NES brought out Super Mario Bros., a video game icon that has had amazing lasting power, and in many ways is even more iconic than Pac-man—if that is even possible. But more than that, NES had some amazing other games: Mike Tyson’s Knockout, Blades of Steel, Bomberman, 1942, Double Dragon, Legend of Zelda, Contra, Final Fantasy, and the list goes on and on. In fact, NES ushered in a new era for gaming in the late 80s and early 90s, and Sega was absolutely brilliant for the short time that system had a life (Virtual Fighter 2 is a masterpiece, and Shun Di’s Drunken fighting style was magical to watch on that system). In my post college years/beginning of grad school, I spent an entire semester mastering Virtual fighter 2 on Sega, along side Madden 1998—Bettis was so fun to run in that game—actually switching between Sega and PlayStation at that point. And Play Station is a whole ‘nother post, but NES really brought us into the modern age of home gaming as you suggest, and what is wild is that the graphics were only marginally better than Atari 5200 and the like, but the game play and conception was absolutely superior. A new frontier 🙂

  2. Reverend says:

    @Brian,
    That is freaking awesome. CHip Music is Dead, indeed. How sick is the internet? I love gameboy krautrock, for the record.

  3. If you like chipnoise you should check out the Album of the Day (Crystal Castles) — stunningly good listen, chip influenced but bigger than that really.

    As far as the chip tunes here, I just got a new virtual synth installed, might be a fun project to try this. Of course, I’ll have to check with my branding agency first, I wouldn’t want my decent into mid-aughts chip tune movements to damage my brand.

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