September 12, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 9  

Front Page >> Sports > Once upon a time...


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Once upon a time...

By David Lee
Gazette Staff

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 you.




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