Earlier this year, Electronic Arts released a reboot of NFL Blitz. This means if all those Mesoamerican Long Count calendars were right and 2012 marks the coming of an ancient serpent god who will devour our planet, I can be snake-devoured a happy man. Blitz is the closest thing I will get to an XFL video game. In a perfect world, people wouldn’t assume I’m being ironic when I’m wearing my Chicago Enforcers jersey and realize I’m mourning the passing of something special. Mainly the only sport that had a halftime sketch starring Vince McMahon.
Blitz, originally created by the now defunct Chicago-based Midway Games, captures a more “arcadey” feel of professional football than the Madden series, which, y’know, grounds itself in reality. In Blitz, it takes 30 yards to get a first down, you are rewarded the extra point after a touchdown without having to kick it in and shit like this is very possible.
Before Midway went out of business, the company lost the rights to the NFL license. This, however, did not impede them from making two more Blitz games (Blitz: The League and Blitz: The League II). Midway just made up a bunch of fictional teams with rosters of also-fictional players and, as an added bonus, included a game mechanic that encourages players to use drugs to enhance their players. This last part caused the game to be be banned in Australia. Frankly, I’m amazed that anything is too extreme for Australia, as it is a continent where everything in nature will poison/kill you. But the good news is that Blitz is back with the NFL license. Unfortunately, the drugs and the gratuitous late hits are out. Nonetheless, rest assured that it is the Blitz we know and love.
So here’s a question: now that I can have up-to-date NFL rosters with beloved Blitz gameplay, why would I ever want to touch Madden again? When I sit down to play a video game, the last thing I want to be doing is challenging plays and managing salary caps. This is why Madden’s appeal as equal parts football game and football simulation never appealed to me. Even with new Madden games coming out every year, I still go back to Blitz 2000 for my football fix. As weird as it was to play a game that was perpetually stuck in a world where Cade McNown was the Bears’ QB of the future, I always found it more fun to play football’s distilled essence than the commitment to authenticity that Madden offered.
In case you were wondering, the Blitz re-release isn’t the only modern Madden alternative. TecmoBowl.org releases a ROM hack every year which updates Tecmo Super Bowl for the NES (originally released twenty years ago) with modern rosters. And I know you may be thinking, “Well Joe, that seems balls awesome and everything, but it’s a damn shame you can’t play online.”
Don’t worry, PureTecmo.org has got your back. Not only will they explain how to play Tecmo online, but they have several leagues filled with players who also want to get their 8-bit football fix on. Here’s a tip: run in zig-zag patterns. Just trust me.
And for those of you that play the new Blitz and are looking for a new way to get into your opponent’s head, I have a suggestion for you. Every time you are in scoring distance for a touchdown, do a fake field goal. Every. Time. When you do score, make a big deal about how you can’t believe your buddy would fall for that. This is also a good way to test how good of a friend you have based on how many times he lets you do this before telling you to eat shit or punching you in the throat.