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I recently attended my good buddy’s bachelor party in the Wisconsin Dells. There was beer, there was boating, and there were questionable choices made in Wisconsin’s attempt at an indoor beach resort and party palace. There was also the nostalgia portal that is the Nintendo 64. It was the staple party accessory in the dorm room where I met a lot of my close friends, so it was no surprise that it was also on full display during the drinking sessions of this bachelor party weekend.
Pregaming while playing N64 is a drunken tradition revered by many people who grew up with the device as a kid and realized early on into their college career that the four-person controller setup also lent itself perfectly to parties and pregames. There are many strong opinions over what N64 game is the ideal companion for several light lagers. I’m here to tell you that it’s not Mario Kart. Nope — it’s the non-stop action of NFL Blitz 2001.
Led by the likes of Brett Favre, Brian Griese, and the Greatest Show on Turf (2000 Rams), NFL Blitz 2001 puts the best players from your childhood into a neon green thunderdome. Blitz was like a perfectly distilled version of Madden, with even better commentary. With only 7 players per “team” and a limited playbook, you were always heavily involved in the action as you jammed the turbo button to make bone-crunching, after-the-whistle hits that only an NFL player avatar could withstand.
That type of fast-paced playstyle is perfect for parties for many reasons. First, your eyes are constantly in motion as you move from offense to defense based on seemingly random sacks, interceptions and lucky fourth down conversions. This means you’re not getting bored or distracted by your drunk buddy in the other room. Second, the 1v1 or 2v2 format means that your player is heavily involved in every snap as you bump your favorite throwback Spotify playlist. Every mistake, bad pass, or stiff arm, means something.
Third, Blitz souped up the skill set of each player so that they played like the steroid-fueled version of Lawrence Taylor. This led to wildly entertaining and absolutely unrealistic hits on and off the field. There’s a reason the NFL quickly moved to the safer, more mom-friendly Madden franchise in the early 2000s. Ever wanted to elbow drop a player after the whistle? That’s basically like giving a high-five in Blitz. The warped physics and general lawlessness of the game lets you invoke the most basic, animalistic version of your being. It also makes you very thirsty for one, or several, light beers as your eyes dilate trying to defend a 4th and 40.
Now, before you get your pitchforks, I am very aware of how passionate people are about Mario Kart, or even Super Smash Bros as being the premiere N64 party game. But Blitz’s most endearing quality might be the low skill level you need to not only play but compete. In Kart or Smash Bros, there’s always that one friend that can abuse the turbo drift or spam Kirby’s best moves, but that’s not the case in NFL Blitz 2001. Blitz is way more democratic in determining the winner. It embraces the chaos of random fumbles and 80-yard hail marys. Everyone can mash the same three buttons and get similar results, which means the games are always competitive and even more entertaining. Its simple gameplay brings together the closest of enemies and tears apart the tightest of friendships – plus, you can easily have two beers over a single, 10-minute session. I’ll take that over anything else on the N64. .