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The Tampa Bay Lightning may have lost Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals to the New York Rangers on Wednesday night, but they won something else… bragging rights in the arena projection system arms race. Both NBA and NHL arenas have used 3D projectors for cool effects, like the Philadelphia 76ers making it look like their hardwood was splintering or the Toronto Maple Leafs filling their rink up with digital water. The effect is often cool, but it also says, “Look at our new toy! See how cool and expensive this looks?”
Thankfully, the Lightning went a different direction. Inspired by the 1988 Konami game Blades of Steel for the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), they just decided, “Screw the 3D. We got a hockey rink. Let’s use it for a 2D hockey game.” And it was magical. Here’s footage of the original game for comparison:
Not bad, right? The presentation apparently involved some sort of crowd participation, but I can’t figure out what kind. The original game didn’t use real team names (of course, the Lightning weren’t even a twinkle in Gary Bettman’s eye in 1988), so Tampa had to fudge it a bit (they did call it Bolts of Steel, to be fair) to make the whole thing more relevant to the series at hand. Can you guess who won the video game version? I’ll give you a hint: Remember that it was in Tampa Bay.
Unfortunately, life did not imitate art in this case. I hope Tampa Bay doesn’t take it as bad luck because I’d hate to see them scrap this wonderful idea.