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Advertising Blurbswww.nintendo.com – Nintendo 64:
Ease-of-play highlights Konami's first hockey game for the N64.
Konami's Blades of Steel has been on a Nintendo hiatus since the eight-bit days of '88. Although reviving the name a decade later would seem as much a gamble as a 60-foot slap shot, the Pak's pick-up-and-playability peg it as a promising late-season entry.
Blades' jam-packed option menu allows players to select from:
Six Controller configurations
Seven camera angles
Five difficulty levels
Five game speeds
Automatic or manual goalie control
Auto/semi-auto/manual player control
Auto/manual/no line changes
Four, five or six-man teams
Two-line passes on/off
Puck streak on/off
ISS on Ice?
Konami's trump card here is its Osaka development team, which has done such a bang-up job with its two International Superstar Soccer games. Like those critically lauded Paks, Blades offers intuitive controls that get you right into the game.
Pressing the A Button while on offense will typically pass the puck to the nearest player, even if he is behind the puck-handler. As you get a feel for the game, you can take advantage of some cool puck-handling options, including wrist flips, drop passes and through passes. Excitable gamers will need to learn to chill out: Pressing B launches a shot, but quickly pressing B again cancels the attempt.
With Midway sidelining its Gretzky series for the '98-'99 season -- although it has tentatively announced plans for Gretzky 2000 -- Blades' ease-of-play wins it this year's arcade honors in the hockey genre. Dim-witted enemy AI on the easier difficulty settings certainly makes for some stratospheric scores. Nevertheless, you shouldn't expect the over-the-top action and comic animations -- nets bursting into flames, ambulances with sirens blaring -- found in The Great One's games.
Part Sim, Part Arcade
Instead, the designers opted for a realistic momentum-based physics model, which means it takes a while for a skater to build up a head of steam. It's a cool innovation not found in other hockey Paks, but it definitely slows down the action. Even on the Fastest setting, athletes take a while to get going, while the Slowest setting has all the vim of Perry Como's Greatest Hits.
Anyone who got a gander at the great job Konami did with the curling venue in Nagano Winter Olympics '98 shouldn't be surprised at the excellent reflection-mapping on Blades' rinks. The athletes themselves look good, but lack the level of detail found in other sports games. Jaggies on moving players can be quite noticeable.
The Sound of Fury
Typical of Konami games, Blades of Steel sports a fine audio track. Randy Hahn, the voice of the San Jose Sharks, offers well-timed and surprisingly detailed commentary ("He circles in the neutral zone") that includes many players' names.The PA announcer's voice echoes throughout the arena and the crowd sounds include distinct hollers from leather-lunged fans.
Full NHL and NHLPA licenses means that all your favorite teams, players and uniforms are here, as well as the NHL North American and World All-Stars. The arenas are authentic, too, and are even rated on the condition of their ice.
Players are graded on six traits (skating, shooting, stick-handling, spirit, fighting and stamina) comprising 12 subtraits (for example, skate speed, agility and acceleration).
You can play a season or playoff schedule of varying lengths or a one-time exhibition. Your general manager options include trades and free agents, but there is no player-create option. The CPU won't squelch one-sided deals.
The Cold Facts
While Blades doesn't offer much that's new to owners of EA Sports' NHL and Acclaim's NHL Breakaway, its ease-of-play mark it as a good choice for the casual or younger fan.
NHL Blades of Steel is also available for Game Boy Color.
Contributed by Evil Ryu (59271) on Aug 17, 2005.