The game was created by Midway Games and headed by Lead Artist, Sal Divita and Lead Programmer, Mark Turmell.
In the original Blitz games (beginning in 1997), all NFL teams appeared (however the Houston Texans and Cleveland Browns did not have a team), but there were several differences in the rules to make Blitz different from standard football games. After the commercial failure of Blitz Pro, Midway did not release a Blitz in 2004 for the first time since the series began. Blitz Pro was thought to be the last NFL Blitz game, then Blitz: The League came out. When NFL Blitz was released on the Nintendo 64 in 1998, it was referred to as "the best football game ever made" by GameSpot.com
In 1997, seven players are on the field per side (as opposed to eleven). Not only were there fewer players, but positions were flexible at best. Wide receivers could be known to run the ball and sometimes pass, and defensive players were all crosses between pass rushers and defensive backs. 2002 saw an increase to eight players and NFL Blitz Pro (released in 2003) increased to eleven.
Unlike the NFL, pass interference is allowed, as are late hits, showboating and excessive celebrations.
There are no timeouts, but the clock stops after every play, and extra points after touchdowns are claimed to be automatic, unless it is chosen to go for two points. However, although rare, choosing an automatic extra point can sometimes result in the extra point being missed if the kicking team is winning by a wide margin. Very few people have ever kicked a failed extra point in the Blitz series.[ ]
Quarters have been shortened to two minutes (default setting) with a faster running timer than real time. For most releases, a first down would mean you would have to go 30 yards, instead of ten.
Unlike standard American football sims, Blitz played fast and furious. Point After Touchdowns are automatic (however, if a team was ahead by a large margin, there was a chance the PAT could be missed), but Field Goals are still manual. Like Midway's NBA Jam series, players were able to pull off fantastic moves. Plays such as "Da Bomb" allowed for a quarterback to accurately throw the ball most of the length of the field at will and receivers could make impossible catches. On the other side, defensive players were able to leap up and swat (if not intercept) balls no other game could allow for or dive incredible lengths to make a stop.
From the beginning, one of the key changes in Blitz was the animations. Where other games had to keep normal tackling and stops, Blitz players were able to stop a play in a variety of interesting ways. One of the most common was for a defensive player to grab his opponent and spin him around and fling him to the ground, sometimes giving them extra yards in the process. This violent and theatrical style allows the players to execute textbook professional wrestling moves such as the German suplex, elbow drop, and leg drop - even after a tackle has been completed and the whistle blown. This concept was likely inspired by the significant popularity of professional wrestling in the late '90s. In addition, the team with the lead often receives kick-offs deeper in its own territory and are more likely to fumble or throw interceptions to help level the gameplay to encourage closer games. This is often called "Getting Midwayed," and is often frustrating for players in the lead.
The NFL, however, made Midway tame most of the more violent or insane aspects of the game as the license progressed. Subsequent releases stripped down "excessive celebrations" and late hits until the game was almost one of the sims to which it was originally opposed. However, the game still retained its over-the-top aspects including censored profanity done in a comical manner. Raiden and Shinnok, characters from the Mortal Kombat series, a series also developed by Midway, are unlockable characters.
|NFL Blitz||1997, 1998||Arcade, Game Boy Color, Nintendo 64, Windows, PlayStation|
|NFL Blitz '99||1998||Arcade, Game Boy Color, Nintendo 64|
|NFL Blitz 2000||1999||Arcade, Dreamcast, Game Boy Color, Nintendo 64, PlayStation, Windows|
|NFL Blitz 2001||2000||Dreamcast, Game Boy Color, Nintendo 64, PlayStation, Windows|
|NFL Blitz Special Edition||2001||Nintendo 64|
|NFL Blitz 20-02||2001||Game Boy Advance, Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox|
|NFL Blitz 20-03||2002||Game Boy Advance, Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox|
|NFL Blitz Pro||2003||Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox|
Midway brought back the Blitz style play by launching in 2005 Blitz: The League. The celebrations and the violent aspects were back and have been ramped up to levels that the NFL never allowed. In place of real NFL teams are fictional teams such as the New York Nightmare and the Minnesota Reapers. One team roster even has a speedy quarterback named "Mike Mexico," which is similar to the "Ron Mexico" alias allegedly used by Michael Vick. In Blitz: The League II, the character participates in a prison football match, and injuring him in the Xbox 360 version will unlock the achievement "Pitbull Payback", referring to his illegal dog fighting ring and subsequent arrest. Another notable feature of the game is that, when a player gets injured, what the game terms as "juicing" him with what seems to be the equivalent of a cortisone shot is a choice.
Blitz: The League was created with the help of one of the writers from ESPN's Playmakers. Notorious former linebacker Lawrence Taylor was recruited to promote the game as well as add voice talents as linebacker Quentin Sands, one of the game's main characters. A second release of Blitz: The League was released in 2006 for the Xbox 360 which added Bill Romanowski voicing linebacker Bruno Battaglia.
Other notable celebrity promotion for the game include Blaze from American Gladiators saying in an interview in the April 2002 issue of Men's Health that every time he gets sacked in NFL Blitz he does 100 push-ups and 100 squat-thrusts.
Critical reception for Blitz: The League was mostly positive. Gamerankings.com gives the PlayStation 2 release a score of 75% and the Xbox release a score of 77%. GameSpot.com gave both PS2 and Xbox versions an 8.6/10. The 2008 sequel Blitz: The League II was released on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on October 13, 2008.