The good news is that NFL Blitz‘s golden era of arcade games is coming back. The bad news is how limited this collection of beloved games will be.
Games from the earliest Blitz era, which ended with NFL Blitz 2000: Gold Edition, will soon be available to buy and play in your home once more—for the steep price of $599.99 as part of a three-game collection on an Arcade1Up three-fourths scale arcade cabinet. The collection, dubbed NFL Blitz Legends, is available for preorder (Arcade1Up, Best Buy) as of Monday, August 15, and is scheduled to ship to customers in October.
Less boom, still some shaka-laka
Sadly, these games have been edited in the years since their late-’90s heyday, and the changes may well be dealbreakers for those who grew up loving the original series’ over-the-top, WWE-like mayhem in arcades and early 3D consoles like the N64 and Dreamcast. Arcade1Up has confirmed that this NFL game will no longer feature “a specific set of tackles,” with roughly 15 percent of football player collisions edited out. Additionally, all after-the-whistle hits have been disabled. Smaller apparent changes thus far include new textures drawn on the field and sidelines to insert Arcade1Up’s logo into the action.
The announcement suggests that these edits were done “to support the NFL’s current Player Health and Safety initiatives,” though there’s also a chance the changes were made to clinch licenses from the National Football League and the Football Greats Alliance (which represents lapsed players’ likenesses). Those two groups combined likely have a vested interest in not advertising over-the-top football collisions anymore. Curiously, the new collection’s trailers do not show a single tackle taking place; ahead of today’s announcement, Arcade1Up provided a selection of Jerry Rice gameplay videos, and each sees the 49ers legend catch a pass and run to the end zone untouched.
The inclusion of real player names is the big sales point for this machine, and it’s emphasized in the product by photos of six stars of the ’90s NFL appearing on the cabinet’s two sides. Arcade1Up has yet to say how many classic player names from all three supported games (NFL Blitz, NFL Blitz ’99, NFL Blitz 2000: Gold Edition) will be missing as a result of licensing issues and whether any missing players will either have their names blanked out or, like in the Arcade1Up NBA Jam cabinet, simply be named after other players (in which case multiple people named “Deion Sanders” could go long for the Dallas Cowboys, even if they have different stats).
We haven’t tried the cabinet yet, so we can’t comment on its four-player array of joysticks and buttons or its arcade emulation prowess. For now, at least, the footage we’ve seen resembles the series’ arcade originals and includes beloved announcer Tim Kitzrow’s sardonic play-by-play commentary. Like other recent multiplayer Arcade1Up releases, NFL Blitz Legends will include built-in online matchmaking, though like on those other cabinets, the online modes will be restricted to Wi-Fi as opposed to offering support for hardwired Ethernet cables.
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