NFL Blitz, for a brief period of time, was among the yearly football game offerings alongside Madden and NCAA Football, but while those two games tried to deliver a simulation experience, Blitz was focused on an arcade one. “Da Bomb”, unnecessarily large player models, and non-realistic physics were a staple of the franchise, but it also wasn’t what Blitz was most known for. That would be the laughably over-the-top slapstick violence. NFL Blitz was notorious for being a game that glorified the cruder parts of football from the violence to the cheerleaders, NFL Blitz embraced it for better and worse. Eventually, the NFL pulled the plug on its license and the series went dormant until an attempted reboot in 2012. While the reboot was a decent attempt at recreating the experience, it lacked a lot of the over-the-top fun that the original arcade games created.
So when Arcade1Up announced that it was going to be bringing NFL Blitz back from the dead, and putting it into an arcade cabinet as NFL Blitz Legends, there was a little bit of skepticism. After all, how were they going to bring back a game that the NFL ended its licensing issues with because of everything it glorified? We talked to Chief Technology and Product Officer of Arcade1Up, Davin Sufer, about what it took to bring Blitz back from the dead.
“This was really really challenging.” Sufer told UPROXX. “It’s another game that everyone really loved. It was really well played, well enjoyed, and there are some aspects of it that just aren’t keeping with today’s reality, and we had to go back and we had to address that right out the gate. So we actually managed to dig up what we need to dig up to be able to rebuild the game and tweak out some of the, you know, more violent aspects of the game that don’t really cater to today’s player health and safety aspects, and sent the wrong message for kids, and we were able to address that without killing the soul of the game.”
Those more “violent aspects” that Sufer is talking about are obviously the extremely late hits that the games were kind of known for. After plays were done the player was free to move around at their leisure and most players would take this time to go cause chaos by jumping on the tackled player’s head or tossing the QB around. It’s all very slapstick and played for laughs, but it’s unsurprising that a league as obsessed with its image as the NFL wanted to move away from the franchise back in the day.
This does not mean the entirety of that slapstick violence is gone forever, however. According to Arcade1Up’s official website, 84% of the game’s original tackle animations are still within the game. We just likely won’t see players spearing into each other head first anymore, or jumping onto someone’s head to dogpile after a play is over. Of course, the games were fun for more than that.
“The gameplay is still what you remember, it’s still very dynamic and fun [like] the way that NBA Jam was too.” Sufer said. “There’s always something happening on the screen, the animations are really fast and fun, and it always seems to come down to the wire whenever I play.”
As stunning as it is to believe, NFL Blitz really has come back from the dead. Who knows, maybe if the arcade machine is popular enough we can get a second try at a modern version. The NFL has been less stingy about handing out its license and it would be fun to see some more arcade-style football games.