GT enter the fray with an over-the-top violence-packed American footie game!
Depending on how you feel about the sport, American football games are either excellent simulations where you can assume control of your favourite team and lead them to victory... or they're baffling statistic-ridden mazes where you get three seconds of action followed by half an hour wading through acres of menu screens.
Up until now there really hasn't been anything to change this. Far from getting easier to understand for the American football virgin, the various licences (notably Madden 64 and Quarterback Club have been getting more and more complex to the delight of die-hard fans, the befuddlement of everybody else and the detriment in sales of the games (resulting in EA's recent decision to cancel the release of the latest in the Madden series over here).
However, all this may be about to change with the release of GT Interactive's NFL Blitz. Forget layer upon layer of front-end screens. Forget more controls than it takes to pilot the space shuttle. Forget the numerous play selection screens (most of them anyway). The emphasis in NFL Blitz is firmly on pace, action, gameplay and fun.
What GT - or rather Midway, since they developed the game - has done is to reduce all the rules and statistics to a bare minimum, while using the memory this freed up to add extra animations, sound effects and nice graphical touches. And random violence.
A typical game involves choosing a team, looking briefly at a controls screen (there are three buttons to remember, so the more goldfish-like amongst you might require a pencil and paper) and then the game begins! As with other American football games, you need to choose 'plays' in order to let your players know what to do. However, forget offensive and defensive formations, forget wading through hundreds of tactics screens. NFL Blitz gives you nine plays to choose from and ten seconds in which to choose. While this ensures that you're not staring at a stats screen for too long, it does mean that if you haven't much idea about the different plays and what they signify -like if you don't know much about the sport - then you don't really have a lot of time to study them. You soon find that you start to pick up what each play means fairly rapidly, however, and the neat thing about NFL Blitz is that you can pit an American football expert against a total rookie and get a fairly balanced game out of it. Since the game is based on an arcade machine, the emphasis is firmly on speed and bashing the other players to the ground in the rush for the goal line.
Best Of Both Worlds?
Whether or not NFL Blitz will take the world by storm is unlikely. The problem is that American footie fans are not going to like the simplified facilities and lack of detailed statistics pages, yet gamers who don't like American football are going to realise that ultimately this is still American football. That said, though, it's a great way for anyone vaguely interested in the sport to get some idea of what's involved without first taking a degree in American sports studies, and it's particularly good fun in two-player. Who knows, perhaps it'll bring the American footie fans and the non-fans just that little bit closer together!
Play With Your Plays!
NFL Blitz offers an incredibly simple-to-use play creation facility. For those not in the know, plays are the instructions that the American football players get to tell them where to run, when to throw and catch and who to hit (not like real football players, they run about all on their own and they know exactly who to hit!) Through a very simple menu system you can design all sorts of weird-assed plays which demonstrate exactly what you know about American footie tactics and will have anyone with even rudimentary knowledge of the sport laughing themselves to death. Which might be a tactic to consider! Simply choose your formation then position your quarterback and receivers and tell them where to run. To really confound the enemy you can make your receivers jump, fake and put on a burst of speed. Easy as one, two, three - today NFL Blitz, tomorrow the Superbowl!
2nd rating opinion
NFL Blitz is a good game, although the rules seem to have changed slightly since I last played American football! The action is fast and easy to control, but there are limited choices of plays. Overall an enjoyable game, but not as good as Madden.
NFL Blitz DownloadsNFL Blitz download
Arcade-style American Football - and all the better for it. Quick, unbroken play with plenty of scraps and a customisable Play Editor.
Arcade take on American football. Fast-paced and fun.
It's American football but without the tedious stop-startery of most American football sims. If you can put up with the computer cheating in the last quarter (to make the final score as tight as possible), even non-fans will enjoy themselves.
I know I have said this before, but I need to say it again. I DO NOT PLAY ARCADE GAMES! I may take a passing glance at whatever the latest and greatest game is at the movie theater or something, but I can't remember the last time I actually went to a video arcade. I think that this is a credit to the game developers, because most of the games being developed strictly for the consoles are just as good, if not better. So where am I going with all of this, you ask? NFL Blitz, that's where. This is the newest football game to hit the N64 and PSX, and it is a direct port from the arcade game. But since I never play arcade games, I just have to take their word that this is true. From everything I have heard about the game they did a great job of porting it over, but since I have never played the arcade game I will have to judge it on its merits as a console game, not an arcade port.
For those of you who are like me and don't play arcade games, let me give you the stat sheet on this game so you will have a better idea of some of the key features. First off, this is a fast-playing, hard-hitting, in-your-face mutation of NFL football. You will find all the NFL teams, simple controls, a season mode and a play editor at your disposal. This game has reached legendary status in the arcade, so I have been dying to see what all the hype is about.
Blitz is a game that is loosely based on the NFL. You do have all of the teams, but you only have seven players on offense and seven players on defense. Only four of the players on offense are eligible to touch the ball, and before the snap you can only control four players on defense. After the snap, it is a whole different story, but we will get into that a bit later.
The object of Blitz is the same as in real football: score a touchdown. The difference is in the rules. First off, you have to go 30 yards to make a first down; it does not matter where you start your drive (unless it is inside the opponent's 30), you will always start 1st and 30. The second difference is that the clock stops between plays, regardless of whether it is a running play, completed pass or incomplete pass. The third difference is that there is no pass interference; you are fully encouraged to do whatever it takes to stop the receiver from catching the ball. And lastly, the developers forgot to add refs into the game so there are no rules at all. The game will not allow you to go offsides or to try to throw a forward pass after you have crossed the line of scrimmage, so in a way, the game is the ref and it will not let you break the rules that don't exist. Get it?
Since there are no rules and no refs, do you think the players are going to act civilized and play nice? Hell no. The thing that makes this game so fun is the fact that there is nothing civil about it. There is plenty of slamming, bashing, thrashing and banging going on, and that is after the play is already over. There is nothing cooler than slamming your opponent to the ground and then jumping up into the air and landing on him with all of your weight. You really have to see it to get the full effect, but let me tell you that it just looks painful. This move is best performed when playing against a human opponent so you can throw in a few of your favorite verbal lashings to go along with it.
This game was so full of moves and off-the-wall taunts that I actually did not mind when the other team scored, because I wanted to see what kind of celebration or taunt they would come up with. There are some of the coolest tackles and hits I have ever seen. One of my favorites is the helicopter spin, where the defender will grab the offensive player by the arm, spin him around two or three times, and let him go. Hits that knock the player 10 yards were common yet not overused.
Another thing that makes this game so good is the ease with which your players are executed. Passing is as simple as pointing the analog stick in the direction of the receive and hitting the pass button. You have a turbo button, a pass button and a jump button on offense and a turbo button, player switch button and a tackle button on defense. That's it. Everything you do is a combination of these three buttons. For example, pressing turbo twice will make your player pull off a spin move. Pressing turbo and jump will make your player high hurdle. The point is that the controls are very simple and it will take a newcomer only a short time to get the hang of it.
I was a little disappointed with the lack of default plays that were in the game. You only have 20 or so offensive plays and 10 or so defensive plays. Sure, you can use the play editor to create your own custom plays, but I usually don't have time for all that. It would have been nice to have around double the number of plays, because it still would have kept things simple yet given a few more options.
The only other complaint I really had with the game was that there was too much passing and it was hard to get a good running game. Since you have to go 30 yards to get a first down, it is nearly impossible to run the ball more than one time per series. Now I know that the object of this game was to make it fast, furious and high scoring, but it still would have been cool to break off long runs. I think a long run is more exciting than a long pass. I know that the developers really pushed the passing, because out of the 20 or so default plays, only two are running plays. That should tell you something.
I was pleasantly surprised with the graphics in this game. Sure, it is a N64 game so you expect the graphics to be good, but that has not been the case with a lot of N64 games. Midway did a great job of creating a bone-crushing atmosphere and they did not overuse the player animations. A minor complaint was that the view seemed to be zoomed too far from the action most of the time. I know that this was done primarily to help you see more of the playing field, but it left me with the impression that the players were a little small.
This is one of the funnest games I have played in a long time. Once you get used to the feel of the game, you will be slamming players down in no time. The plays were a bit too sparse for my liking, but if it really bothered me that much I could always make my own plays in the play editor. I think that this game will bring smiles to the faces of many console owners across the land.