Outside the Box: Blitzes and Def Slams.
(AfroGamers.com) I’m a big wrestling fan, especially of old school 1980s stuff and the amazing styles of Japanese puroresu and Mexican lucha libre. The storylines, the action, the characters. Rivalries that last years and feuds that are eventually reignited. How seeing a particular form of wrestling can make one go “That’s fake” but seeing something else can make someone go “Why would they do this?!” Most importantly, like comics, manga, film, TV, and video games there’s something for everyone in wrestling. Hell, wrestling was basically my comics growing up since it was on TV and free.
That brings me to two of my favorite games that were heavily influenced by professional wrestling. Both were released during that hot boom period of the late 1990s and early 2000s and will probably be blasts from the past for some of you.
Before Blitz the League, there was the original NFL Blitz. The title got a few games on the Playstation since it was released like any other sports game. Blitz was like a mix of Mutant League Football and the company’s (Midway) NBA Jam. It was violent, outrageous, and fun. I would occasionally touch football games and when I do now its mainly to play the Franchise or Be A Pro modes. The main reason is that football titles—and sports games in general—tend to be the same each year for the most part. Most sports usually don’t experience massive rule changes year to year that result in a significant game changer, a sport that is the same sport that endeared it to the masses but something refreshing.
Blitz, like Mutant League Football and Blood Bowl, took one of America’s most popular sports and made it extreme. It was basically what EA eventually did with NFL Street but more in your face. Players would powerbomb others, clothesline them, and even get in a late hit with a Swanton Bomb. It was all awesome! While EA, who dominates the sports simulation game, has added new features to its titles that take you outside of the field, court, and occasionally, the rink, I would love if a Blitz mode or Blitz simulation mode was added. Its one of the big things that would result in me regularly playing Madden.
There was a remake in 2012 that proved to be fun but took out the late hits—which made Blitz what it was. The 2004 remake featured a fictional league and an involved storyline while keeping with the Blitz feeling.
Def Jam Vendetta
This game was the sh**. In the late 1990s, the now defunct THQ and AKI, a Japanese developer known for some of the best wrestling games of that period—mainly on the Nintendo 64—teamed up for WCW vs. nWo World Tour, WCW/nWo Revenge, WWF WrestleMania 2000, and WWF No Mercy among others. After working with THQ and WWE for a long time, the early 2000s saw AKI work with EA’s EA BIG studio and Def Jam Recordings. The result was something you wouldn’t think would work in Def Jam Vendetta.
So what was it? In short, a wrestling game featuring Def Jam’s hip hop artists. It doesn’t look like much on paper but it worked. All they did was fine tune the wrestling engine and give us a sleek, hip hop version of WCW/nWo Revenge. The game didn’t feature a ton of different modes, you had one on one fights, tag team matches, triple threat, fatal four ways, and battle royals.
AKI and EA really kept this simple and slap on a main story which was worth playing through but wasn’t deep or anything. Wrestling games during this period were basically party games. If you had a Nintendo 64 and someone else had controllers then you had a heated after school tournament. It replaced the conventional fighting game and other party games like NBA Jam at the time. Def Jam Vendetta did the exact same thing.
There was a sequel to Vendetta called Fight For NY which was also fun and took the action out of the ring. It featured more customization and was a little more involved than Vendetta. Recently, Def Jam asked where the next Def Jam game should take place. If the game gets developed, hopefully it gets
back to the wrestling/fighting game roots. Def Jam Icon got away from this and while it also proved to be enjoyable and truly mixed in Southern hip hop which had become the popular form of hip hop at the time, it didn’t feel like a Def Jam fighter.
That said, Def Jam Vendetta and NFL Blitz are two titles that delivered on hours of fun and hurt feelings when someone got done wrong during play.
Staff Writer; M. Swift
This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.