Blades of Steel is the best hockey game on the NES, in my opinion. Ice Hockey is also excellent, but I like Blades of Steel more and have more memories of playing the game.
The Game Boy version is an excellent port of the game, even if it feels easier than the NES version. This would have been an awesome way to take Blades of Steel with you back in the day.
When I look at a port of a console game, I often compare it to the original version or the version I remember the most. In this case, I think the Game Boy version of Blades of Steel is a very faithful port.
There wasn’t much to the NES game. It had three difficulty settings, a few game modes, and an incomplete list of the NHL teams at the time. The Game Boy version doesn’t have a noticeable difference.
Let’s get more into the game! First, a little history about it.
TLDR: The Game Boy version of Blades of Steel is fantastic!
Blades of Steel was developed and published by Konami and through Konami’s shell company, Ultra. There were a few surprises when I looked at what formats the game was released.
The biggest surprise was that it was in the Arcades. They seemed to have been released in North America in 1987 and weren’t released elsewhere. Blades of Steel was also released on the Famicom and NES in 1988 for Japan, North America, and 1990 in PAL format.
It was also released for the Amiga, Commodore 64, and DOS in North America in 1990.
The Game Boy version was released in 1991 in North America and Europe and in Japan in 1992. This was one of the rare cases when Japan got something after North America and Europe.
The game had two sequels released on the N64 and was ported to the Game Boy Color. This was another surprise for me. I didn’t own an N64 at the time, and I wasn’t aware of Blades of Steel having a sequel.
There are a lot of similarities between the NES and Game Boy versions. I’m guessing that the NES game wasn’t that big, and Konami could do a direct port.
This game doesn’t have the NHL or the NHLPA license. This means there are no team and player names in the game. This was standard for the time.
Blades of Steel doesn’t track player stats and doesn’t offer a season mode. This is also like other games from the late 80s and early 90s. You can play a single game or a tournament. You can also practice, which I’ve never seen anyone do. I’m sure someone has tried this mode, but I’ve never done it.
From what I can tell, the teams all play the same. Both Defenders and Forwards have an equal chance of scoring, and the Goalies are usually awful.
For some reason, hockey games from the 8-bit era didn’t seem to get the controls for the goalie right. It’s a little weird to explain, but for this version of Blades of Steel, you control your selected player and the goalie simultaneously.
This is the only time that the controls feel off. Ice Hockey seems to have better goalie AI than Blades of Steel.
One difference I noticed could have just been me not seeing it, but I didn’t get into a fight while I was playing the game. This was one of the things that I remember the most from the NES version. It’s probably in the game; I just missed it.
Let’s move on to the visuals.
This is a black-and-white version of the NES game. It looks good for a Game Boy game, and it seems like Konami got the most out of the hardware.
Unfortunately, I do have a few issues with it. Mostly, these are going to be small things. There isn’t anything significantly wrong with the game.
It can be hard to tell which player has the puck. This only happened when I first started. The problem is your characters are wearing dark uniforms, and the Game Boy’s screen isn’t the best.
It’s easier to tell which opponent has the puck because they have white uniforms, and the visual cues are better. It only took me a few seconds to figure it out, but it was an adjustment.
It can be hard to track the puck when you pass, shoot, or when the goalie gets it. So, in a way, it’s a bit like watching a hockey game on TV for the first time. I guess it’s a good simulation!
Unlike other sports games, this one is straightforward to pick up and play this one over and over. Blades of Steel is perfect if you want one or two quick games on the go!
It would be nice if there were a single-season mode, but I don’t think it is needed. Having a simple arcade-style sports game like this can be great. It makes it easy to play one to three games at a time.
The controls are also spot on, except for the goalie. The graphics are excellent. Blades of Steel is one game that works great for the Game Boy.
9.5/10. Blades of Steel is a great hockey game! It’s basically what you would see at the time. Other sports games were like this, but with varying degrees of quality.
There are a lot of things that I like with Blades of Steel. I’ll keep the nostalgic memories out of this shortlist.
- It’s an easy game to learn.
- For the most part, the controls are very good.
- You don’t need to know a story to get into the game.
The few cons that I have aren’t that big of a deal. I’m unsure if all of them will matter since this is a handheld game, but I wanted to mention them anyway.
- There aren’t a lot of teams, and they all play the same.
- Lack of depth in the gameplay (No single season or dynasty mode)
- It does take a little time to get used to the graphics.
- Two player can be a little tricky with the Game Boy version.
My memories of playing Blades of Steel are from the NES version. It was one of my friends’ games, and we would play it on the weekends. I wasn’t aware of all of the other versions of the game.
The Game Boy version does a great job of bringing the experience to a handheld. It’s something that you don’t see too often.
The arcade-style sports games like Blades of Steel, NBA Jam, NFL Blitz, and the Mutant League games aren’t as plentiful as they used to be. It’s a genre that I wish would be made more often.
Anyway, I like Blades of Steel! I think the Game Boy version is great.