By Daniel C. Houston
The “NFL Blitz” franchise was never intended to portray a realistic brand of football.
The game is replete with players provoking unnecessary roughness calls, earning late-hit penalties,and drawing flags for pass interference. There is, however, one minor caveat: there are no referees, and, even if there were, they certainly wouldn’t be calling those penalties.
Welcome to the world of “NFL Blitz 2000,” where excessive celebrations and after-the-play body slams are not only allowed but are an essential component of the game-playing experience.
Despite the relatively short playbook, simplistic control scheme and overly polygonal graphics, Blitz shines as a testament to the rough-and-tumble ideal that football fans sometimes wish the real sport and traditional video game franchises would live up to.
Are you a defensive back who doesn’t like having to make a play on the ball? Just lay out and tackle the receiver while the ball is in the air. Don’t worry, the referees are looking the other way — and always will.
Thinking about punting the ball on fourth down with 30 yards to go? Please. That’s what “Da Bomb” — an air-it-out deep pass that’s really appropriate for any down — is for.
Considering kicking a field goal when you’re down by two with a minute to go? Don’t make me laugh. Da Bomb.
It would be doing a disservice to more conventional football game franchises like “Madden NFL” to compare them with “Blitz,” mostly because the former are intended to accurately recreate actual football dynamics while the latter revels in its encouragement of brash play-calling, its cheesy, repetitive musical motifs and unrealistic physics.
What do I mean by unrealistic physics? Well, for one thing, your team will quite literally catch fire when you complete enough passes to the same receiver on offense or repeatedly tackle the quarterback behind the line of scrimmage on defense.
Once your team is on fire, tackling your players is twice as difficult. At best, players from the other team can hop on your back and get dragged along for the ride until a lucky soul is finally able to knock you off your feet.
But the most satisfying aspect of the game comes between the plays, when defensive players get free license to knock down, throw, flip or even body slam their offensive counterparts with no negative repercussions other than cries of disbelief from the game’s announcer.
“Was that absolutely necessary?!” the announcer will often scream with an air of faux indignation.
Perhaps not, but it is part of what makes the classic “Blitz” franchise worth picking up all these years later, even if I do lose to my roommate by two points every time we play.
Editor’s Note: This article is part of our ongoing series on “Great Video Games.” If you are interested in submitting a piece on a video game you consider great, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.