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EA Tiburon
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If you were looking for some good old-fashioned arcade pigskin fun in the late-‘90s, you invariably turned to NFL Blitz . The hardcore fans who wanted realism and unrivaled depth flocked to Madden (in much the same way they do today), but the less serious knew Blitz would deliver the pulse-pounding, over-the-top entertainment. Now it’s back. And you know, although it isn’t as robust as I would’ve liked, the new downloadable iteration is everything old-school fans could want.

It’s not the best-looking digital title I’ve seen, but it’s quite accomplished in terms of color and animations. Best of all, it’s mighty pleasing because it reminds us of the good ol’ days, of a time when we weren’t picking at every tiny detail, movement, or effect. Even if you choose to get all anal with NFL Blitz , I doubt you’ll find much to complain about; this is a rock solid visual presentation that highlights the most appealing aspects of arcade football silliness. And I’ll leave it at that.

The audio could’ve used a more diverse soundtrack but the commentators are just plain awesome. They’re hilarious and they fit the on-screen action beautifully. The effects are appropriately jarring and, in some respects, downright bone-crunching in their totally unrealistic brutality. There’s a slight lack of balance and sophistication but again, that plays to the game’s strengths. EA Tiburon knew how to give the fans a game they recognize, and they did it without making it seem dated.

Bash the runner until he’s getting tossed in the air like a rag doll. Short screens and sweeps are for the weak. Trying to get to the end zone as fast as humanly possible, and with as much flair as humanly possible, is the order of the day when on offense. When on defense, which is almost as much fun in such games, your job is to separate the ball-carrier’s head from his shoulders. It’s not an 11-on-11 strategic, expertly timed competition; it’s a 7-on-7 cage match where players literally catch fire.

The control feels just about right, as it’s both responsive and accessible. There’s nothing overly complicated about the button setup, and you won’t have to memorize a dozen pages in your customized playbook. Some might spot a small issue with hit detection and minor clipping problems but again, that’s only for the anal. So long as we accept what type of game we’re playing and focus on the developers intentions, we’re satisfied. It’s almost too straightforward, but that's understandable.

Besides, in addition to the standard head-to-head mode, there’s also the all-new Blitz Guantlet, which is just plain addictive. The game adopts a classic arcade ladder system (seen in any fighting game), where you have to battle three opponents and then take down a particularly insane “boss.” If you can top the latter, you earn a code that can be used just before starting a game in the normal mode. Those codes include everything from changing the camera to turning the ball to chrome. So of course, you immediately want to unlock all the codes.

Overall, NFL Blitz reminds me a little of NBA Jam , which is another arcade classic that came to the digital realm this generation. It stays true to its roots while amping up the action and adding a twist to the familiar. However, as a long-time Blitz fan, I was a little annoyed to see that EA had removed one of the patented franchise features: late hits. It was always a staple of these games; when an opponent scored, you could beat the snot out of them when they celebrated.

I suppose the rest of the hectic action makes up for it, but I really have no idea why late hits disappeared. Back on the plus side, the addition of online play is lots of fun, as you can compare yourself to other players and winning earns you Blitz Bucks. That virtual cash can be spent on Elite League player card packs, new stadiums, and even extra cheats that can be used in online competition. And you won’t unlock everything too soon; between the single-player and online unlocks, there’s plenty to nab.

NFL Blitz has all the personality and appeal of installments during the franchise’s glory days. It can feel a tad thin due to a lack of options and customization – you can’t change the quarter length, for instance – but I doubt the old-school fans will be disappointed. There’s plenty to like and you’ll easily recall the days when trash talk and pounding on buttons were common. $14.99 seems about right but the more discerning and slightly skeptical might want to wait until it’s $9.99. Either way, I had a blast.

The Good: Smooth, classic visual presentation. Excellent announcers and cool sound effects. Control is simple and easy. Blitz Gauntlet is a great, addictive feature. Likely to satisfy the old-school fans.

The Bad: Lack of customization and options. Small technical defects. Game can feel a little unbalanced at times.

The Ugly: “No late hits at all? Really? Come on.”

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10 years ago

No Late hits????? Well that lame the hell were they thinking when they took it out….. oh well I be picking it up tho still

10 years ago

The reason they took out late hits is because of the NFL. The NFL has been trying to change its image about big time hits to protect player's safety since there have been so many concussions and other brain injuries (and other bodily injuries) that have ruined players' careers and lives.

So from that standpoint, I understand. But come on! This is NFL Blitz! This is where late hits, bad sportsmanship and absurdity conquers all!

I've been playing the hell out of the PS1 version recently and am fine with that. No late hits and lack of a season or customizing rules are keeping me away right now.

Although online play has me tempted.

Anyway, great review as always Ben. One of the best in the business.

Last edited by Twistedfloyd on 1/16/2012 10:38:11 PM

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
10 years ago


Btw, are you certain that's the reason the late hits are gone? I mean, this game isn't designed to accurately replicate the sport of football…

If it's true, I guess I understand to some extent, though.

10 years ago

I know the NFL really started complaining about it in the original, and it's one of the reasons why they didn't renew the license back then (and why a new NFL Blitz has been SO long in coming). Suddenly every single late hit in a real game was compared with NFL Blitz, and the league really soured on that aspect of the game.

Whether that's still an issue or not I can't be sure, but it seems probable.

10 years ago

Well, Blitz had the license until EA gobbled it up.

Yeah Ben, that's the reason why. Even though it's not designed to be an accurate representation, this has the "NFL" name on it. So even though it is absurd, the NFL doesn't want to promote late hits in anything that has their name on it, no matter the circumstance.