NFL Blitz was a big hit when it released on the Nintendo 64 years ago, I myself remember sinking hours upon hours into the game. Blitz was fast and fun football, you didn’t need abundant amounts of planning or strategy in your plays and things like late hits (elbow dropping people after plays), and players suddenly going on fire and becoming nearly unstoppable made it a ridiculous but fun football game.

Sadly NFL Blitz on Xbox Live Arcade doesn’t do much to capture the essence of what made the original so great, however it can still be a fun, albeit quick, football experience. Blitz should be called something like “arcade football”. It’s still football but it plays at a much faster pace and with much less strategy than something like Madden. The rules of Blitz are simple, every game is 7-on-7, with two minute quarters. It takes 30 yards in order to get a first down and there are absolutely no penalties.

This lends the game a quick feeling, with you pulling off plays one right after another. Offense is easy enough to play with having directional passing or you can map your receivers to different buttons. Defense on the other hand is a little harder to get a hang of, it’s not easy at first to know where you need to go to cover a pass but you do get the hang of it after a while. Controls for the most part work pretty well, and it’s not hard for you to get the ball where you want.

Tackles are over the top, like they used to be, with some of them causing players to fly through the air for a few feet, and the “on fire” system returns. If your team really does well across a few plays, they will suddenly light on fire. This drastically increases their abilities and speed and gives you a serious bonus for the plays that your team is on fire for. This gives you a big reason to do well throughout the whole game.

If there’s one part of Blitz’s gameplay that felt seriously lacking, though, it was in the play selection. You have two pages of plays to pick from on offense and defense and that’s it. You can flip the plays, but in all this ends up with you having only about 20 plays in every game. This felt severely limiting and the confusing way of doing a running play makes it even worse. There really are no kind of running plays in the game, you can do a few pitches in the same way that you throw the ball but that’s it. Now it is true that Blitz has always been a predominately passing game, but it still felt incredibly limiting to not have the option of a proper running play.
This is also a small complaint, but the new NFL Blitz doesn’t have the late hits that the original did. It just seemed strange to have a Blitz game where you couldn’t jump on your opponents after the end of a play. Luckily, the fun cheat modes still exist. From the loading screen you can select certain cheat modes like big head mode with the roulette wheels like the original.

There are a wealth of modes to play in Blitz as well. There’s the traditional play now mode that lets you play a game against the AI immediately or with three other people. On that point, up to four players can play in each game, with two people controlling players on each team. There’s the Blitz Battles mode that pits two or four players against each other in ranked matches online, and online co-op is your basic online mode though. The Blitz Gauntlet puts you through a series of games, certain games though are against special teams like The Pirates or The Zombies. Beating these teams unlocks them for you to play as, and it’s fun to play as some of the wackier teams in the game.

There is also the surprisingly deep Elite Leauge mode. This mode lets you purchase card packs using “Blitz Bucks” that will add new players that you can put in your lineup. This adds a lot of time to the game, as you try to compile the ultimate team to play with. Power ups that you unlock add even more to the advantage you can have in each game. This is by far the most time consuming mode in Blitz and it admittedly is a bit fun to use power ups and try and unlock the best and/or your favorite players.

Music in the game plays constantly no matter if you are in the menu or in a game. It is usually some kind of rock music, or hip-hop all though as far as I can tell none of it is really licensed. It fits the overall theme that NFL Blitz tries to build, but after a while it can get pretty annoying and you may find yourself wanting to just turn it off. The announcers in the game are pretty much the same way. They aren’t too bad at first and a few of the things that they say are genuinely funny, but they drone on and on and after a short amount of time become surprisingly annoying.
Blitz is by no means the best looking game out there. Characters look decent and the animations are decent too if a bit stiff. In fact, the best way I can think of describing the graphics of Blitz is “shiny” and everything does generally look pretty sharp. The crowds in stadiums suffer from the same repeating models and flat 2D designs that most football games do. One thing I will say though, is the menus look great. Menus look nice and slick in Blitz, and are really easy to navigate. It’s something I found very impressive.

It’s sad that NFL Blitz couldn’t capture the real essence of the original, but it is by no means a bad game. It’s a fast concentrated football experience, and one that doesn’t want you to think too hard about the plays you’re choosing. There are better football games to be found out there, but if you want a quick and fun experience and have enjoyed Blitz in the past this is probably one arcade game you will want to check out.
Title : NFL Blitz
Format : XBLA (Also on PSN)
DeveloperElectronic Arts
PublisherEA Tiburon
Release Date : 01/04/2012

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*EA Sports provided with a promo code for a review copy.