NFL Blitz (N64)
Looking for an outstanding arcade football game for the N64? Look no further than Blitz. This near-perfect translation of the popular coin-op accomplishes everything the designers at Midway set out to accomplish. The action is fast, furious and most importantly, fun.
Blitz does for pro football what Midway's NBA Jam series once did for basketball. The focus here is on fast-fast-fast unrelenting arcade action. This is not a football simulation like the Madden series. Instead, Midway gives us its own arcade version of NFL football.
The game's official slogan is "No rules, no refs, no mercy." But actually there are a few rules. It takes 30 yards to get a first down. The teams consist of seven players each. And there are no penalties! The lack of penalties means you can whack receivers and pile on late hits all you want.
The gamemakers did not concern themselves with replicating all the NFL stadiums, and that's just fine. What they did replicate was the totally intense in-your-face frantic arcade Blitz experience.
NFL Blitz is like football taken to the next level. The emphasis is on wild passes, laterals, and late hits. It's all about over-the-top action.
When you think about it, authentic football is a fairly slow-paced game. The players huddle. They walk to the line of scrimmage. They do a snap count. Finally, the ball is hiked and the play starts. Plays generally only last a few seconds, and then the whole laborious process starts again. With Blitz, the designers took the fun action stuff from football and discarded the rest.
The games in Blitz are incredibly fast-paced. Quarters are a default two- minutes in length. You can thus play an entire game in about 10 minutes. If you're an arcade action nut like myself, you'll love Blitz. The N64 version is as close to a perfect translation of a coin-op as you will ever see.
The graphics of Blitz are excellent. The game runs in the N64's medium- resolution mode, which produces ultra crisp visuals. The players themselves are constructed of plenty-o-polygons; they look great!
It's worth noting that the Blitz camerawork is excellent. The fast Blitz camera does exactly what a good game camera should. It allows you to forget about the camera, and focus on the action. The camera automatically zooms in and out as necessary, and always allows a full field of vision. If only all games could boast such excellent camerawork, the promise of 3D would become reality.
The N64 version of Blitz may run somewhat slower than its arcade counterpart, but slowdown is very rare and never affects gameplay. The only noticeable slowdown I experienced was after plays were completed. Sometimes the camera zooms in for a close-up of the tackle, and manipulating those huge polygons caused a tiny bit of slowdown.
Sound in Blitz is also excellent. What music exists does so in the background. It's standard arcade fare. Intermission screens are punctuated with a cool hip-hop beat.
There's also a lot of excellent voice audio in Blitz. The announcer delivers some great running commentary. Instead of pithy remarks offered randomly (a'la Madden), the Blitz play-by-play is brief and useful. Also, the stress in the announcer's voice actually conveys some authentic emotion, which contributes to the intensity of the game.
There are also some fun player taunts that occur when plays have been completed.
If you've never played Blitz, you should know that the game is incredibly fast-paced. It's 100% adrenaline-soaked action. There is literally no significant pause between a touchdown and the ensuing kickoff! One team scores, and the next screen shows the opposing team receiving the kick. Extra points are automatically determined to be good or no good; you don't even see the extra point kick take place!
In a killer N64 bonus, Blitz affords players the opportunity to create and save plays on a controller pak. Better yet, players will then be able to take their created N64 plays to the arcade, and play them in the Blitz 99 coin-op! This is an awesome idea, and it's the icing on a wonderful Blitz cake. Hopefully we'll see more N64/arcade cross-compatibility.
Back in the old days of gaming, we used to dream of owning an arcade-quality game console at home. Now, the N64 is allowing us to practically play arcade games at home. As ANT MarthaStewart says, "it's a beautiful thing."
If you want an authentic NFL football simulation, then Blitz is obviously not the title for you. But if you appreciate an incredible arcade sport game played at breakneck speed, you can't go wrong with NFL Blitz. It's arcade football action at its finest.
Music and Sound: 9.5
Game Challenge: 9.0
Rumble Pak: 10
Frustration: 9.2 (a good thing)
Game Value: 9.8
Overall: 9.6, excellent game