20 April, 2014

Making Gretzky's Head Bleed

Ah the classic video game. More specifically, the classic hockey video game. Skinny guy, regular guy, or fat guy? Finding the right mix was a dilemma faced by players of Nintendo Ice Hockey. And this distorted yet iconic sound? Why it’s Blades of Steel, a game I spent countless hours playing in my youth. The fact that losing a fight resulted in a penalty made the game even better.

In case you missed it, check out Patrick Hruby’s look back at some of the best (and worst) sports video game innovations over the years. It’s a fond visit to the pixellated past, one that even stretches to include E.T. on the Atari 2600. Hruby is clearly a guy who loved the sports classics, including NHLPA Hockey ’93. And here’s a terrific example of Instant Replay increasing the joys of gaming:

What’s the only thing better than crushing Doug Gilmour at center ice, stealing the puck from his prone, splayed body, then using Jeremy Roenick to score the game-winning goal for eternal dorm bragging rights and/or beer money? Try replaying that goal, over and over, triggering the goal siren each and every time, until the whining, high-pitched squeal drives your furious roommate into the hallway, beaten and broken.

The beauty that is video-game instant replay is brilliantly (and foul-mouthedly) illustrated in this classic clip from Jon Favreau’s Swingers:

Just yesterday, Greg Wyshynski posted about his visit to 2K Sports and his interview with Rick Nash. It’s a good read that starts out with a shared love of video games, but goes off on some fun tangents — such as Nash’s heartbreaking revelation that the White Castle scene in Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle was actually filmed in Brampton rather than New Jersey . . . disappointing news to Jersey-born Wyshynski, and to me too as another Jersey kid who dined on the occasional slider or five. Read more about it here; the series continues Tuesday and Wednesday.

That someone remade the Miracle on Ice’s final seconds using Nintendo Ice Hockey drives home the lasting impact of those early games . . . oh, and making all four USA players “skinny guys” was a touch of genius:

With this oppressive heat wool-blanketing the DC area, it’s best to stay inside. Why not play some video hockey? I just may go dig the old NES box out of the closet and make some heads bleed.


  1. WFY wrote:

    I was more disappointed that White Castle just wasn’t very good. I think the burgers were tasty in the Fairfax County Schools cafeterias.

    10 June, 2008 at 7:48 am | Permalink
  2. WFY wrote:

    What I meant to say was I think I had tastier burgers in Fairfax County Schools cafeterias than White Castle.

    10 June, 2008 at 8:04 am | Permalink
  3. Mark Tucker wrote:

    Man I loved the NES Ice Hockey.
    Many hours spent playing as USA!
    Those sound effects will forever be burned into my memory.

    10 June, 2008 at 9:28 am | Permalink
  4. Jimmy Jazz wrote:

    That game was so money.

    10 June, 2008 at 10:34 am | Permalink
  5. usiel wrote:

    NHL93 was a frakkin classic for sure (sega genesis). Anyone know the best NHL game for the PS3?

    10 June, 2008 at 12:00 pm | Permalink
  6. yngwie wrote:

    Three fat guys, one skinny guy. That wall of beef would drive my opponents crazy trying to drive down the ice on me, and after knocking a few of his guys on ther collective asses I’d send my skinny guy zipping around them for the score.
    Let’s not forget another great, bubble hockey in the arcades. I always took the Russkies and saved my uses of the “boo” button for the rare scores by my opponents…

    10 June, 2008 at 12:27 pm | Permalink
  7. vt caps fan wrote:

    The old skool NHL games on the sega were classic. But Blades of Steel has a place in my heart. Quality entertainment. Many fights between my brother and I were sparked because of Blades of Steel.
    @usiel — I’m partial to EA Sports (just all around games in general — they do it right). I’d recommend NHL 08 –if you’re willing to wait go with 09.

    10 June, 2008 at 12:28 pm | Permalink
  8. Dan wrote:

    Man…that Vancouver team with Pavel Bure, Alex Mogilney and I think it was Cliff Ronning (??) was just freakish. (Sega NHL 94?)
    They were the fastest line in the game…and you could always come in using the boost with Ronning, and get one of the other two blazing in off wing…cross it over and goal. Every time.
    My group of friends outlawed me from using the Canucks.

    10 June, 2008 at 3:41 pm | Permalink
  9. Thanks for sharing these great memories folks!
    By the way, Ovechkin will be on the cover of NHL ’09… but only in Russia. Sweden gets Alfredsson, and the rest of the world’s coverboy is Dion Phaneuf:

    10 June, 2008 at 5:02 pm | Permalink
  10. JMoney wrote:

    Me and Gustafsson used to play NHLPA Hockey ’93 on Sega all the time back in the day… With a good screaming slapshot you could break the glass as well. I seem to recall the Caps weren’t too bad either.

    10 June, 2008 at 9:36 pm | Permalink
  11. Joe wrote:

    “Anyone know the best NHL game for the PS3?”
    NHL 08.
    Best hockey game ever. Period!

    10 June, 2008 at 10:06 pm | Permalink
  12. Scott wrote:

    NHL 94 was the best – wraparound every time. You could score 30 goals in a game.
    Thanks for the swingers clip – I had forgotten how great that movie is. I need to rent that…

    10 June, 2008 at 11:31 pm | Permalink
  13. usiel wrote:

    @Joe, thx for the heads up. I’ll check it out!

    11 June, 2008 at 12:42 pm | Permalink
  14. Shmoo wrote:

    The depths of my obsession with video game hockey…
    I remember walking through a driving snowstorm to Wall To Wall Sound & Video in Burke, VA to pick up Blades of Steel. I came back numb, but playing for 8 hours straight warmed my heart.
    My friend Ryan and I used to play NES Hockey non-stop, with him being the Flyers (in name only) and me the Caps. 3 fatsos and a lanky was definitely the way to go. Did anyone even use the mid-range pee wee guys?
    Another friend and I – this is shameful – had a sleepover one night where we drank his mom’s hooch and documenting our epic 12-hour marathon of NES Hockey, as part of a letter to a girl we both were crushing on. How we thought this would light up her loins is beyond me now, but when she moved back to the US she definitely told all her friend who in turn mocked us relentlessly.
    That same friend and I used to play the early EA NHL games co-op and got so bored of winning by 30 goals that we shifted focus to “How many hits can we lay on the opposition?” We were always gunning for triple digits and would still win. We considered injuries worth 10 bonus points. A girl I was massively in love with called during a marathon and we went to meet her at work and that was the night I got my first kiss. Videogame hockey finally came through for me that night.

    11 June, 2008 at 6:05 pm | Permalink