Once upon a time...
By David Lee
Realizing the need to wax nostalgic, Gazette
sports presents the first of a year-long series of childhood
flashbacks to relive the sporting goodness brought to us through
video games, films and TV shows centered around sports. Enjoy.
Sometimes it's possible for substance to win
out over style.
Blades of Steel, released in 1987 for the
original 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System, proves you don't
need uber-realistic graphics and sound to produce an enjoyable
video game rendition of hockey.
Blades had no career mode. There were no
instant replays or trades. Hell, there wasn't even a way to
save your game. Instead, Blades centered around fast, fun gameplay
and plenty of button mashing.
Eight cities all competed for the ultimate
prize: "The Untitled Trophy." Since Blades wasn't
sanctioned by either the NHL or NHLPA, the only distinguishing
feature between the eight teams were the god-awful uniforms:
prime examples included Toronto (a swank blue on light blue
combo) and Edmonton, whose green and yellow uniforms doubled
as jungle camouflage back in the 'Nam.
Nevertheless, most players remember one standout
feature ‹ the fights. After checking each other three
times, players would adopt a fighting stance; if punches were
thrown, the digitized "Fight!" soundbit would play
and the real battle would begin.
Following a close-up, both fighters would
drop their gloves and begin their 2D duel to the death. Players
could punch (and block) high and low, while five red "power"
balls indicated strength.
After the fight, the referee would skate
over to the losing player's carcass and you guessed it, instead
of penalizing both players, the ref would only toss the loser
in the box. This was certainly ample motivation to win a fight
and until the recent incarnations of the NHL series by EA (which
add momentum to your team if you win), Blades was the only game
to provide an incentive to win the in-game bouts.
Today, Blades still provides a nice quick
and dirty game of hockey to anyone lucky enough to own the original
cartridge. If you don't belong to this small minority, you'll
be pleased to know you can download the ROM along with an emulator
such as Nesticle for free. The software's so simple it'll even
run on most office computers. Just don't let your boss catch