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Video Game / NFL Blitz

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NFL Blitz is a series of American Football games based on the National Football League originally created by Midway Games. Blitz was the first of several franchises that took the NBA Jam formula of stripped-down rules and controls combined with amped-up violence and spectacular plays and applied it to another sport. The first Blitz came out as an arcade cabinet in 1997, and it was an immediate smash hit, not just because it was easy to pick up and play, but because—as the Blitz name might tell you—it presented an absurdly over-the-top version of the game, where there were only 7 players on each side, quarterbacks threw 30-yard passes on every down (in fact, the speed and lower number of players meant you had to gain 30 yards for a first down instead of 10), defenders used Professional Wrestling throws to tackle the ballcarrier, and late hits were all but encouraged. That success meant that home ports soon followed, along with sequels every year up until 2003.

In its heyday, Blitz was the arcade yin to Madden NFL's sim-style yang, spawning a slew of imitators and even outselling Madden some years. Even to this day, NFL Blitz 2000 in particular is revered as the pinnacle of arcade-style football, and it's still relatively easy to find as an arcade cabinet. Unfortunately, the violence that made Blitz in players' eyes and set the series apart was also the exact thing that worried the NFL—even in the '90's, when concussions weren't taken as seriously and the league glorified its brutality. Thanks to league pressure, little by little, the games slowed down their gameplay and became more realistic until, by the time NFL Blitz PRO came out in 2003, it was basically just regular football, only with no penalties and On-Fire mode. After the NFL finally gave its exclusive license to Madden, Midway struck out on its own, creating the Blitz: The League series as an elaborate F-U to show just how gory they could actually get.

After Midway's 2008 bankruptcy, EA bought out the Blitz license and tried to duplicate the success of their NBA Jam revival with a reboot in 2012, but this time, the NFL didn't allow the signature late hits and violence at all, creating an unsatisfying shell of a game in the process.

These games contain examples of:

  • Artistic License – Sports:
    • First, there's all the blatant Unnecessary Roughness and late hits that occurs during inter-player skirmish that frequently involves wrestling moves.
    • In real life football, a first down requires moving forward 10 yards, but in this game, you need to make 30, due to the fact that players in this game move much faster than in reality.
  • Became Their Own Antithesis: By the time PRO came out, there was barely anything distinguishing Blitz from the simulation-style games it used to oppose. The EA reboot, despite imitating old hallmarks, actually gets this worse because of the toned-down violence—so during the 3-second pause after a play, where you would normally be able to make late hits, the players just stand around awkwardly.
  • Bowdlerise: Going with the above trope, Arcade1UP's Blitz Compilation Re-release cabinet of the first three games in October 2022 removes late hits and the most ludicrous hit animations in order to secure the NFL license. At the same time, the cabinet averts this with the presentation of the Washington Redskins: their politically-incorrect team name and logo of the period is left completely untouched in the games for historical reasons.
  • Death or Glory Attack: The "Suicide Blitz" play for defense. All CPU defenders will make a rush for the quarterback, which will either lead to a massive loss in yardage for offense, or the QB successfully throwing the ball to an unopposed teammate who will likely make an effortless touchdown.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The first game and its ports only allow two human players instead of four, and lack a dedicated announcer for the current down, aiming and power controls for punting, and "On Fire" mode. All of these would be changed in the next version, Blitz '99.
  • Lemony Narrator: Tim Kitzrow's commentary, which is full of sarcastic quips about the brutality unfolding on the field.
  • Losing Horns: A mocking jingle plays for the team on offense if they turn the ball over on downs, miss a field goal, fail a two-point conversion, or give up a safety.
  • Made of Iron: The cartoon logic and lack of penalties means that everybody can take brutal hits all day long and get up like they're nothing.
  • Mêlée à Trois: The fastest way to create an all-out brawl is to keep alternately hitting the switch player and tackle buttons as fast as possible, causing all your players to mindlessly dive at the nearest opponent until the game finally goes to a menu screen.
  • Rubber-Band A.I.: As always, the computer has a habit of performing miraculous comebacks to keep things close. Get too far ahead, and your offense will suddenly get butterfingers, your defense will turn to Swiss cheese, and the even the automatic extra-points will magically start missing.
  • Self-Plagiarism: Midway made the first big Arena Football League console game in the form of Kurt Warner's Arena Football Unleashed. It's pretty much just the PS1 port of Blitz 2000 with a smaller playfield, a different license, and some other sound and aesthetic changes.
  • Spin to Deflect Stuff: Players carrying the ball can spin themselves to shrug off opponents. However, the more times they spin, the more likely they will fumble the ball if they get tackled.
  • Super Mode: In '99 onwards, if the team on defense sacks the quarterback multiple times in a row, or the team on offense passes the ball to a specific, flashing teammate, that team will become "On Fire" and gain boosted status for a brief period of time.
  • Unnecessary Roughness: A Blitz game without ridiculous tackles and late hits pretty much isn't a Blitz at all.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: The late hits. Oh, God, the late hits. The end of each quarter is the best time for it, since there's more time provided to go around attacking the other team, and you can even put in cheat codes to extend the after-play pauses and give yourself more time to brawl.
    The announcer: That was uncalled for, but a lot of fun to watch!
  • Wrestler in All of Us: The influence of the Monday Night Wars is very obvious, especially in the earlier editions. Apparently, everybody in the NFL can do flawless legdrops, suplexes, and other wrestling moves, and will use them to tackle opponents.

"He's at the 30! The 20! The 10, the 5, TOUCHDOOOOOOOOOOOOWNNNN!!"


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Gaming in the 90s

Odom plays sports extremely violently after learning how from a video game.

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Main / VideoGameCrueltyPotential

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