'NFL Blitz' is the cure for my 'Madden 18' Tom Brady-induced narcolepsy


EA Sports officially unveiled Madden 18 on Friday morning. If you're into ultra-realistic football games (and don't mind staring at Tom Brady's dumb face) that's great, but there's an even better football game franchise waiting in the wings. I'm talking, of course, about NFL Blitz, one of the greatest video games of all time (not just in the sports genre, but in general) that's been all but abandoned in favor of more realistic annual releases.

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What made NFL Blitz so great

If you don't care about the rules and just want to watch jacked up athletes tackle each other then NFL Blitz is the game for you.

Developed by Midway Games — the same company behind the classic NBA Jam — Blitz offered an exaggerated take on the sport. On offense, that means you could pull off crazy feats like throwing the ball all the way across the field for what should have been an impossible catch, thanks to ludicrously fun plays like "Da Bomb."

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But as the name implies, defense is where NFL Blitz shined. There really were no rules when it came to tackling. You could pile onto any opposing player, whether or not the football was anywhere near them. You could also pull off some pretty sweet wrestling moves, grabbing another player and spinning them around before finishing things off with a theatrical takedown.

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Even after the clock had stopped, you could keep on tackling your opponents. There was no strategic advantage to doing so, it was just pure fun. 

What went wrong with the NFL Blitz series and how to bring it back

The Blitz series has soldiered on since the original game was released back in 1997. Eight more sequels followed in the late 90s and early 2000s, though the National Football League pushed Midway to remove some of the game's more violent and over-the-top features as the series continued.

In 2005, the company parted ways with the NFL and created its own fictional football league with a pair of Blitz: The League games. These titles amped up the violence to new levels. They also introduced a story mode featuring raucous prison football matches and the ability to "juice" your players with illegal drugs and "mystery pills."

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Then in 2009, Midway went bankrupt, and EA Sports scooped up the series. The gaming giant rebooted NFL Blitz in 2012, earning mostly positive reviews but failing to match the spirit of the original version. Since then, we haven't heard much from EA about its plans for the series. The company seems content to pump out Madden sequels instead and let the black sheep of the football gaming world fade away.

Abandoning the Blitz series wouldn't just be a disservice to fans, it would also be a huge mistake for EA. The company doesn't even need to develop a totally new game with super-realistic graphics —that's what Madden is for. Just giving the original game an HD polish and re-releasing it for current consoles would make most people happy, though I definitely wouldn't mind trying out some of those classic NFL Blitz tackles on a virtual Tom Brady.

David J. Phillip/AP

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