The heyday of NFL Blitz arcade games is returning. The bad news is how little of this beloved game collection there will be.
Soon, you’ll be able to purchase and play games from the first Blitz era—which ended with NFL Blitz 2000: Gold Edition—again in the comfort of your own home—for the hefty price of $599.99 as part of a three-game collection on an Arcade1Up three-fourths scale arcade cabinet. On Monday, August 15, Arcade1Up and Best Buy opened preorders for the NFL Blitz Legends collection, which will begin shipping to customers in October.
Unfortunately, since their late-’90s peak, these games have undergone alterations. For fans who grew up with the original series’ outrageous, WWE-style mayhem in arcades and early 3D systems like the N64 and Dreamcast, the adjustments may prove to be unappealing. According to Arcade1Up, this NFL game will no longer include a certain set of tackles, with about 15% of player collisions being removed. All after-the-whistle hits have also been turned off. New textures have been drawn on the field and sidelines to include the Arcade1Up emblem into the action, among other less noticeable adjustments.
There’s a chance that the changes were made to secure licenses from the National Football League and the Football Greats Alliance which represents the likenesses of retired players, even though the announcement claims that they were made “to support the NFL’s current Player Health and Safety initiatives.”
Together, those two parties have a stake in ending the promotion of outrageous football collisions. Curiously, none of the tackles appear in the new collection’s trailers. Jerry Rice can be seen catching passes and running unimpeded to the end zone in each of the gameplay videos Arcade1Up shared before today’s announcement.
The main selling feature of this machine is the incorporation of genuine player names, which is highlighted in the product by images of six NFL stars from the 1990s that appear on the cabinet’s two sides. Due to licensing concerns, a number of classic player names from the three supported games (NFL Blitz, NFL Blitz ’99, and NFL Blitz 2000: Gold Edition) will be missing.
Arcade1Up has not yet stated how many of these names will be missing, as well as whether any missing players’ names will be blanked out or simply named after other players, as in the Arcade1Up NBA Jam cabinet in which case multiple people named “Deion Sanders” could go long for the Dallas Cowboys, even if they have different stats.
The cabinet hasn’t been tested yet, so we can’t speak to its four-player set of joysticks and buttons or its ability to emulate an arcade. The footage we’ve seen so far, at least, is similar to the arcade originals of the series and has beloved announcer Tim Kitzrow’s wry play-by-play analysis.
NFL Blitz Legends will feature built-in online matchmaking, just like other recent multiplayer Arcade1Up offerings, although unlike those other cabinets, the online modes will only support Wi-Fi rather than supporting hardwired Ethernet cables.