Throwback Thursday - NFL Blitz for Nintendo 64 and PlayStation
NFL Blitz began as an arcade game (1997) where hulking versions of our favorite NFL players could unleash fantastical and cartoonish hits and plays on one another. You could hit after the whistle for some revenge, and like in Tecmo Bowl throw the ball the length of the field as needed. Midway which made the game had already done this exaggerated gameplay successfully with NBA Jam and would eventually try with baseball and hockey (MLB Slugfest, and NHL Hitz) with varying levels of success. The NFL did take some of the teeth out of the game making it less violent over time, although they added it back in when they eventually lost the NFL license and started using fake teams and players. But that first game had some sweet football magic, and speaking as someone who’s real NFL team has suffered a few losses in a row it is time to look back to greater times.
Similar to NBA Jam the first thing that has to change is the team size. NBA jam became a 2 on 2 battle, and football went from 11 on 11 to a 7 player battle with an emphasis on skill players instead of linemen. This also more closely resembles school yard play where getting 22 players was almost never possible. The added room on the field allows for the gargantuan players but also more wild animations as your tackles more closely resembled a WWE battle than a clear “wrap-em-up” tackle. As they went down you could do things like Elbow Drop on top of them which was particularly satisfying if they burned you for more yards than you would have liked. The game also got rid of some of the more boring elements of the game, like extra points were automatic (unless 1 team was way ahead and the AI would try to rein them in). And something that stands in even starker contrast to the current game of football was celebrations which could be complex and offensive. Now in the NFL anything other than tossing the ball to the ref can be considered an excessive celebration further sucking the fun out of the league (NFL, No Fun League). Midway is sadly no longer with us and EA owns the license, and since they own Madden and can’t handle any level of competition we may never get to experience this madness again so go find a classic copy and suplex your opponent into the turf for old times’ sake.