Leave it to the folks at EA Sports to help make me feel like a kid again.
First, the developer brought back my all-time favorite arcade hoops title, "NBA Jam," and now they've gone and resurrected the long-dead "NFL Blitz" franchise -- a move I thought would never happen.
Like the updated "NBA Jam," "NFL Blitz" is as much a re-imagining of the original as it is a faithful recreation. Still, the core elements that made "NFL Blitz" such a memorable part of my childhood are all here. "Blitz" remains an arcadey 7-on-7 take on football, complete with exaggerated player models, outrageous commentary and addictive gameplay.
The game's fast-paced style puts an emphasis on big plays on both sides of the ball. Whether it was delivering a big hit on a receiver before he could make a catch or stiff-arming my way to a touchdown after hauling in a bomb, there was rarely a lull in the action.
While the "NFL Blitz" experience excels when playing against human competition -- there are leaderboards to track your record against local competitors and beyond -- there is also a hefty tournament-style Blitz Gauntlet mode for offline gamers. Here, you pick your team (or pilfer players from other teams to form a virtual all-star lineup) and proceed to take on all comers in a ladder-style tourney, complete with fantasy boss teams comprised of mascots, zombies and other over-the-top characters.
The unabashedly fun gameplay found in "NFL Blitz" helps make up for some missing elements, most notably the late hits that became one of the series' hallmarks in its heyday. Also, the inability to adjust the quarter length from the default two minutes is a bit of a bummer, as is the lack of selectable jerseys. Some may view these as minor omissions, but others will likely find them harder to look past.
Whether you're picking up "NFL Blitz" to relive childhood memories or experience the insane arcade football action for the first time, there's no denying EA Sports has put together quite a package for just $15. This is a great way to kick off another new year of gaming.
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Available for: Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network ($15)
Rating: E+10 for everyone 10-and-up