What was first a rumor 11 months ago, today EA Sports has announced the return of NFL Blitz, a new HD version of the game that will be available via digital download in January 2012 on the Xbox LIVE Arcade and the PlayStation Network, costing gamers 1200 points and $14.99 respectively.

When originally released in arcades everywhere in 1997, NFL Blitz became a smashing success, an arcade-style football game that was decidedly different (read: fast, fun, loud) from the traditional football games of the time (John Madden, Joe Montana, etc). Ported to the N64 in 1998, the game became a mainstay in dorm rooms/bedrooms/rec-rooms everywhere, undoubtedly blistering many a finger while causing angst at the AI “cheating to keep the score close.”

For gamers unfamiliar with NFL Blitz, it is an arcade-style football game that is face-paced and over-the-top ridiculous (in a good way). Remember the XFL, the WWE-inspired professional football league that lasted only one season? NFL Blitz is like the XFL on steroids, but with even fewer rules. Says Cam Weber, general manager of American Football for EA Sports:

“NFL Blitz was one of the great arcade classics of the 90s, and now we’re bringing back everything fans loved at a great price, in high-definition and as a digital download. The new NFL Blitz will preserve the competitive nature of the original game, while delivering to fans the ultimate rivalry experiences online.”

NFL Blitz Elite League

This new version stays true to its roots, allowing fans to play others in 7-on-7 games, blitzing their way through the Blitz Gauntlet where players battle fantasy bosses in the Blitz Coliseum, or even take the battle online and challenge others in Blitz Battles. Here are some of the key features to the game:

  • Classic gameplay:  what fans of the original will love and remember. 7-on-7 matches use current top players from each of the 32 NFL teams and all 31 stadiums (Jets and Giants share a stadium). Two minute quarters, 30 yards for a first down, no penalties (pass interference? HA!), crushing hits, and everyone’s favorite, PLAYERS ON FIRE!
  • Elite League: strive to make the perfect team of ultimate players. Players can purchase card packs using Blitz Bucks earned through online games to collect players for customizing their lineups. Collecting an entire NFL team of players will unlock powerful new players that give your team an even greater advantage. Also utilize power ups to make your squad even better on the field.
  • Online co-op: as it sounds, get a friend and play cooperatively online or on your couch.
  • Blitz Store: earn Blitz Bucks in every online game mode, and players can redeem these in the Blitz Store to purchase even more content, such as new logos, banners, power ups, cheats, concept art and of course, BLITZ CHEERLEADERS!
  • Booth commentary: NFL Blitz play-by-play announcer Tim Kitzrow returns to the booth, and actor Brian Haley offers color commentary. Both deliver their lines humorously, keeping in line with the tone of the game.

The return of NFL Blitz is incredibly exciting for this gamer. As a college student from 1997 — 2001, many hours were spent in the dorm lounge fighting for NFL Blitz supremacy. We would bemoan the AI “cheating” to keep the games close, but all that did was keep everyone glued to the TV, gripped with anticipation on who would pull out the victory.

For the younger generation who may not have experienced the original (and wasted countless quarters in the arcade before the N64 version was released), one can only hope that the new version sticks as closely to the roots of the game as possible, because that’s what made it spectacular and a tremendously fun game to play. This game is 100% not about realism; it is about raucous, in-your-face fun. Hit a defenseless receiver? Go for it. Body-slam a running back while he’s celebrating a touchdown? Required.

The all-new HD version of NFL Blitz will be released sometime in January 2012 through the Xbox LIVE Arcade and the PlayStation Network via digital download only.

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