NFL Blitzone of the best sports video games ever made, finally makes its return in remastered form thanks to home arcade company Arcade1Up – marking the first new entry in the wider Blitz franchise since 2012, and the first re-release in years 90 classics since 2001.
Blitz is really something special. I suspect some of VG247’s readers might not even be alive when these games first came out, but they’re basically the ultimate in arcade sports, alongside NBA Jam (which has been run by some of the same development staff).
In short, Blitz takes the sport of American football and dials it all up to 11, making it faster, dumber, and more complete. It was designed to cause intense competition between friends in the arcade. And also, of course, emptying you of your coins. There were a few iterations in arcades and on console between 1997 and 2001, but later entries lost much of what made the originals special.
Arcade1Up brings back classic Blitz games in a new three-quarter cabinet. This means it stands five feet tall, making it significantly smaller than the original cubicles and more suitable for a home installation – with the cabinet built from a flat pack. That size means you get a 17-inch screen, which isn’t huge but should also be quite serviceable.
Included is the original NFL Blitzmore NFL Blitz ’99 and NFL Blitz 2000: Gold Edition. All three games are similar in essence, with minor differences between the versions. For my money, Blitz ’99 is the best of the three.
Impressively, all three games will be playable both in local multiplayer – with the cabinet featuring four sets of controls on its extended control deck – but also via WiFi, meaning you can challenge other Blitzers around the world. . There are also online rankings. These are features that Arcade1Up has established with games like Street Fighter and NBA Jam, so we know how they work pretty well.
The cabinet looks the part, resembling the original cabinets but with new artwork that features a range of NFL legends adapted to the game’s original era period. Also featured are the original team logos and uniforms of the era, making them authentic to the original cabinets rather than showcasing the team’s recent branding changes.
There are pitfalls, however. There always are, right? The first is the price: like most Arcade1Up machines, the NFL Blitz Legends cabinet is priced at $599, making it not really a purchase for the faint-hearted. I’ve seen original Blitz machines cost only a few hundred dollars more than this – but these machines are much larger and bring with them the hassle and maintenance costs that retro arcade hardware always does.
The second take is more of a deal breaker, though. NFL Blitz is famous for being an over-the-top version of the sport, as mentioned earlier – which means no penalties and a bit more violence than modern sport accepts.
It’s all kind of ironic, like kicking a player after the game is technically over, cursing and celebrating in a ridiculous way. Importantly, suplexed gamers aren’t real gamers either, but just generic video game characters. But the modern NFL, dogged by criticism over player welfare, has decided it can’t have anything to do with it – so this version of the machine features “remastered” versions of the games… where ” remastered” means that these features have been removed.
As such, some late tackles and shots have been changed or outright removed “to support the NFL’s current player health and safety initiatives,” according to Game Informer. So these won’t be the games exactly as you remember them.
Honestly, that’s ridiculous. This should be a perfect release for people like me – fans of the NFL and classic arcade games – but changing those games this way just seems silly to me. No one confuses NFL Blitz with the real thing, where the NFL arguably has an injury problem and horrific, life-altering CTE injuries. The issue has been such a sensitive topic that it has stood in the way of Blitz takeovers in the past, however – and the league has only really become more sensitive to it over time.
It’s silly. At the time, the NFL folks seemed to know that, too. “It’s like the Road Runner,” said Gene Goldberg, then the NFL’s vice president of consumer products in 2002.[NFL Blitz] is not what happens when the players are on the field. It’s a cartoon.” Despite that, Blitz would be watered down year after year with later entries – and now that blight has spread to a re-release of the original games.
It’s hard to know exactly how to feel. Part of me is annoyed and frustrated that the NFL’s response to the problems is to focus on PR exercises like removing “bad” moves from video games rather than just spending more time and money on support players hit by injuries in real life. But part of me is just thrilled to see the NFL Blitz released – thrilled with this firm, but also hopeful that this could be the first step towards a return of Blitz elsewhere, softening the licensees for a console re-release. .
I’m thrilled to see Arcade1Up get the Blitz license and work with the NFL, and as a home arcade enthusiast, I’m thrilled every time I see the company level the playing field with their smaller, more manageable and readily available. classic wardrobes – even if the price still seems a bit high. But the NFL really needs to get over itself. It’s just a video game, guys.
Despite my annoyance at the changes imposed by the NFL, as a Blitz enthusiast I’ll admit I’m pretty much in love with the way this machine looks – and while pricey, Arcade1Up’s stuff tends to be decent quality. It’s no substitute for a real machine, but with three real arcade cabinets in the house already, there’s no way to install another juggernaut. That might just do the trick.