Sunday, 22 February 2009

Blast From The Past

Remember when these things to the left were all the rage? Arcade machines seem to have fallen to the wayside recently with all the innovations in video game technology. Oh sure, you still have your Dance Dance Revolutions and your Street Fighter vs. Every Important Video Game Character Ever Made series of games, but there is a definite void in my life where I used to plug quarters into machines. There was always one type of game that was missing from the arcade palace, and that was a solid hockey arcade game. Sure, you had the occasional air hockey table or bubble hockey game, but there was a complete lack of attention paid to hockey from video game manufacturers. Well, today I found an arcade palace who had not one, but TWO hockey arcade games!

The first was a terrible, quarter-eating version of the old Nintendo stand-by called Blades of Steel. It was a 12,000-in-one style of arcade that featured something like a dozen Konami-made games, but one of the games was Blades of Steel.

Honestly, the gameplay was horrible. Each quarter would get you one minute of actual game play time, and the period was four minutes long. So, in essence, you had to plug a dollar into the machine just to play to a 0-0 tie in the first half. If the computer scored on you, you lost 10 seconds of time you paid for. However, if you scored, you earned an additional 30 seconds of time paid-for. Like the Nintendo version of the game, there were definite ways to score easy goals.

One of the funniest parts of the game, however, are the fights. The arcade game has players yelling insults at each other like "hey, you're brain-damaged!" or "hey, pretty face!". Yeah, 1987 wasn't so politically-correct. The fights are pretty crappy after that, but the fact that a player calls another player "brain-damaged" was almost worth the sleeve of quarters I plugged into the machine.

I won the first game I played by a 9-8 score after what felt like playing for an hour, and then I just walked away. I couldn't waste anymore time on a game that really felt it would be better on the old 8-bit Nintendo. And plugging that much money into a machine that left me that unfulfilled was like plugging a parking meter for a bicycle. Ridiculous.

The second game, which was entirely more enjoyable, was the 2 On 2 Open Ice Challenge. The game was licensed by both the NHL and NHLPA, so the stars of the NHL took to the ice in the game. However, being that this game was released in 1995, it took a little figuring out who would be good before I began choosing teams. Honestly, this game feels a lot like NBA Jam, and it's a pretty fun.

Teams include most of the NHLPA's bigger stars including Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr and Petr Nedved (Pittsburgh); Teemu Selanne, Keith Tkachuk and Alexei Zhamnov (Winnipeg); and Joe Sakic, Claude Lemieux and Owen Nolan (Colorado). After defeating the Hartford Whalers with Pittsburgh by a 14-10 score, I dominated Detroit with the Winnipeg Jets by a 15-7 score - yeah, that would never happen in real-life, but I got ridiculous goaltending from Tim Cheveldae. There are a ton of NHL stars featured, and a number of them have already been inducted to the Hall-of-Fame. Classic gaming, indeed!

If you get a chance to play this game, have at it. I must have plugged two or three dollars into this machine, and it was totally worth it. Without a doubt, it is the best hockey arcade machine I have found to date. And, as a bonus, the New York Islanders' logo when choosing them comes up as the Fisherman. Huge bonus points for that detail!

Are there any others that aren't carried by my local arcade palace? I'm not talking console games either, people. Don't bring those up. How about a pinball game? I have never seen a hockey pinball game, but you would think that would be a pretty solid game with nets, and boards, and players as bumpers. Hit me up in the comments with any other games I may have missed.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!


Woopop said...

Hat Trick Hockey! The arcade at my old local rink (what used to be Sabreland in Suburban Buffalo) had this game, and it was even simpler than Blades of Steel, which was great when I was 7. Also a quarter muncher! Bally/Sente made it around 1984 or so.

Ebay listing: Ebay

MAMEdb: Hat Trick

Anonymous said...

I remember another arcade hockey game but for the life of me I can't recall the name. Maybe that's because it wasn't particularly good and I only played it two or three times.

I think hockey video games never really took off because of bubble hockey and air hockey tables.

As for Blades of Steel (the NES version) I could never figure out what the game was saying whenever the puck was passed. It always sounded to me like "Get the ball!"

Oh, and I also could never figure out if it was just a defect in the game but sometimes, if you'd deliver a vicious cross-check or something, the victim would get "splattered" across the screen.

Tony said...

Mutant League Hockey was an absolutely horrible game that I only spent 25 cents on once at an arcade.

Atrocious...but worth noting!