Ever since Arcade1Up has been working on arcade cabinets with online play and a four-player control deck, a constant ask of the company was a recreation of NFL Blitz. The beloved hard-hitting arcade football game was a delightful mainstay of Midway arcade classics at the turn of the millennium. However, it seemed both player names, likenesses, and content licensing were caught up in a ton of red tape. It seems Arcade1Up, the NFL, and the FGA (Football Greats Alliance) came to a happy place on a new NFL Blitz Legends cabinet that includes three classic games out of the series, built in Wi-Fi, leaderboards, and 4-player local and online play. Does it stack up to our happy memories of the franchise? Mostly, though it seems the Arcade1Up versions of these games may have lost a little something in business dealings that allowed it to happen.
The Arcade1Up NFL Blitz Legends cabinet is quite the thing to try to build solo. I’d say overall it took about two hours to put together solo and could mostly be done with just a screwdriver. The materials feel quality and I was happy to see they didn’t scratch, scuff, or break easily as long as I was careful when putting it together. The assembly instructions were pretty clear and easy to follow as well. There are, however, parts where you’ll have to prop pieces up if you’re assembling this alone. If you have someone to build this with you co-op, it will make setting the two sides of the cabinet a much easier experience. I made due and was able to do it on my own though, despite any difficulty involved.
One of the few things I don’t like about Arcade1Up’s packaging is that it uses a lot of plastic and foam molds, so you’ll have a lot of trash by the end. I’m also not fond of the film layer applied to various plexiglass surfaces. The screen in particular has screws already attached over the film and it will break off in pieces and stick under the screws if you don’t remove it carefully around those parts. The instructions only call for a screwdriver, and you can, indeed put it together mostly with just that, but I would suggest keeping a couple further tools on hand such as a small set of pliers and knife to make a few steps far easier.
Otherwise, when the whole thing was put together, it was gorgeous and worked perfectly. I really dig the light-up Blitz banner across the top and the showing of players like Terrell Davis, Emmitt Smith, Dan Marino, and Jerry Rice along the sides of the cab with their autographs is an awesome touch to the legacy of this thing. The control deck is also very true to the original, with good, responsive buttons and reasonably quality sticks. It also tells you how to play and even shows control lists for the more technical moves. I would just also make note of the screws on the control deck near the far left and right player controls should be minded as they could scratch your hands as they rest on them. I would also tighten the arcade stick tops with pliers because I found they could come loose a little too easily.
I can do this all day
The original NFL Blitz games were something entirely out of the ordinary and they’re mostly intact in this package. The Arcade1Up NFL Blitz Legends cab comes with remastered versions of the original NFL Blitz, NFL Blitz 99, and NFL Blitz 2000: Gold Edition packed in. Not only that, but it also comes packed with Arcade1Up’s tried and true Wi-Fi network features that allow you to access global leaderboards and play against other NFL Blitz Legends cab owners. The games are crystal clear and run fantastically on the cab’s 17-inch LCD screen, and whether you have friends over or you engage in some online play, you can play with up to four players in a game just as in the originals. And the online network handles quite well, presenting online skirmishes that work as well as your internet. All in all, these games look and perform well, offline and on.
Of course, we do have to address the elephant in the room. It clearly wasn’t easy for Arcade1Up to get access to these games. The team has told us as much multiple times in previous interviews, and a part of this happening comes with the fact that none of the games play exactly how they originally were. Don’t get us wrong, Arcade1Up clearly went to great lengths to remaster these games as they always do, even bringing in original developers Mark Turmell and Sal Divita to aid in the task. However, simply put, there are no late hits in any of the games. If you try, your character will phantom through other players, and that just kind of stinks.
Hardcore hits are a staple of Blitz and that’s a fact. It’s not as though these games tone down the violence. On the plays, players are still pummeling each other with over-the-top tackles, bulldogs, shoulder checks, and more. The NFL is well-known for its strict measures in regards to public perception and player health and wellness. That said, it’s a weird disconnect to see these games allow the unrepentant full body spears, shoulder checks, bulldogs, and more that often send helmets flying, but draw the line at the ref’s whistle.
It's also worth noting that these games are stuck in the rosters of 1997, 1998, and 1999. Don’t get me wrong. I love handling Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith on the Cowboys and I even love the challenge of trying to stop a very dominant John Elway and Terrell Davis in this game. I just also kind of wish that with Arcade1Up’s ability to update these cabs via the Wi-Fi, we could also have an option of playing with updated modern rosters. As a Kansas City fan, if you let me play Patrick Mahomes in NFL Blitz, I’d probably never leave the cab.
Even so, put these matters aside and the NFL Blitz Legends collection is a solid bundle of games to go with a very good-looking cabinet, and it’s great to be able to play with so many legends of NFL yesteryear.
Catch fire and send the house
Ultimately, the Arcade1Up NFL Blitz Legends cab is another solid nostalgia bomb with just a few caveats. It’s a shame Arcade1Up pretty clearly had to make some concessions to get the NFL licensing, but it’s also cool how much of the games they were able to keep intact. These are still some of the hardest-hitting football games around, and the cabinet they’re built into is another high-quality build from Arcade1Up. I could do without some of the waste and I recommend a pal to help you build it, but otherwise, once you’ve got it up and running, you’ll have a solid looking and playing sports showpiece for any game room.
This review is based on a sample product offered by the manufacturer. The Arcade1Up NFL Blitz Legends cabinet is available now at a retail price of $599.99 USD through Arcade1Up and partnered retailers.
Arcade1Up NFL Blitz Legends
- Buildable solo
- Excellent looking cabinet
- 4-player online and local play
- Online leaderboards
- Very smooth and enjoyable gameplay
- True to originals for the most part
- Controls feel quality and responsive
- Lots of waste post-build
- Screwheads near far left and far right sticks
- No late hits
- Rosters stuck in 1997, '98, and '99