Reviewed by Scott McCall
Since its arcade introduction in the summer of 1997, NFL Blitz has
arguably been the most popular arcade game around and has magazine
editors around the country missing deadlines. Why? Well, it takes
America's most popular and closely followed sport, speeds it up
considerably, increases the violence level, makes it all offense,
and gets rid of all penalties. Basically, it's no holds barred a la
NBA Jam. Now the arcade phenom has made its way to the home systems.
More than likely, you already know what NFL Blitz is about. But,
believe it or not, I never played the game in the arcade. My first
experience with NFL Blitz comes on the Nintendo 64. So I'll
quickly describe the game just in case you haven't played it like
me. NFL Blitz is a 7-on-7 football game. You have four downs to
go 30 yards. That's right, 30 yards instead of 10 yards for a first
down. The clock stops after every play. There are no penalties,
and pass interface is highly encouraged. There are field goals
and punts, though. You basically have two offensive options in
the game: Pass the ball to one of three receivers or have the
quarterback run with it. Running plays in NFL Blitz are executed
by tossing the ball to the side, so it's basically just like passing to
that receiver. Another hallmark of the game is the big hits and
cheap shots. The bigger the hit, the better. And you can even hit
people after the whistle is blown! So on defense you can try to
sack the quarterback, you can take out people while they're
running their route, you can try to time an interception, or you
can try to pop the ball out with a big hit as soon as they catch
it. As you can see, NFL Blitz is all about offense and big plays.
You have to be pretty bad not to score early and often. But that's
what makes the game so fun.
The N64 version of NFL Blitz is a great port. The high-resolution
arcade graphics had to be reduced to medium-res graphics, but
it still looks better than the PSX version. And, oh yeah, the
language had to be toned down, too. Now you'll only hear the
word "hell" used. There are also a few new additions to the home
versions, some of which are exclusive to the N64. There's a
Season Mode (based on the actual 1998 schedule) in addition to
the Arcade Mode. There's Rumble Pak support so you can actually
feel the hits now. Finally, there's a very cool Play Editor mode
that will let you design and save nine plays to a Controller Pak.
It's pretty easy to design plays, too. But the best part of this
N64-exclusive feature is that you can take your saved plays and
use them with Blitz '99 in the arcade! What a great marketing
gimmick! By the way, just in case you're wondering, while the
N64 version got the exclusive Play Editor, the PlayStation version got
an exclusive Tournament Mode.
There are many options to toggle in NFL Blitz. You can make adjustments
to the volume levels of music, sound FX, crowd, and announcer.
Unfortunately, I couldn't quite get the balance I wanted because the
announcer can get drowned out. You can shift the screen left or right
and shrink or expand it. You can also completely customize the
controller configuration. The default scheme lets you use either
the Control Pad or the Control Stick. Nice. Then the A button is for
passing and switching players. The B button jumps and tackles.
Finally, the Z button is your turbo. Yep, that's it. (There are many
special control functions when you use the buttons in conjunction
with one another. But I'll let you read and find out about those on
your own.) Additionally, there are some gameplay options. You can
toggle these options: difficulty level (easy, medium, and hard),
quarter length (1, 2, 4, or 6; 2 is the default), help boxes (on or off),
and play timers (on or off). The game also has Controller Pak support
for saving game options, team (but not player) statistics in the
season mode, and your overall statistics for the arcade mode.
As stated above, the graphics were ported very nicely to the N64
version of NFL Blitz. The game is almost always fast and furious,
the players are always large, and the numerous camera angles
always keep you interested. You will also notice the graphics are
crystal clear -- no blurring here. There isn't as much animation
as any of the realistic football games, but what's there looks great.
Sound-wise, NFL Blitz is disappointingly 100% in mono. Otherwise,
the sound is also very good with an enthusiastic announcer, trash
talking, huge-hit tackling sound effects, and some decent music.
Arcade ports don't get much better than this. NFL Blitz for the
N64 is a must-have for any fan of the arcade game and is n
oticeably superior to the PlayStation version. On the downside,
the game easily gets stale in the one-player mode. But two-player
games are infinitely fun; they're the real reason to play the game.
And that leads into one of the game's two main problems: There's
no four-player mode! I couldn't believe one wasn't included! The
other problem is the typically cheap arcade AI that gradually
gets harder and comes up with miracle plays when it needs to
catch up. NFL Blitz won't exactly replace Madden or Quarterback
Club as your sole football game of choice, but it's nice to break
away from reality every now and then.
Graphics: 4.3 out of 5
Sound: 3.9 out of 5
Control: 4.2 out of 5
Gameplay: 4.3 out of 5
Lastability: 4.3 out of 5
Overall: 4.3 out of 5