#190 John Madden Football

Posted: 14th October 2012 by Jeroen in Games
Tags: , , , ,

186th played so far

Genre: Sports
Platform: Mega Drive
Year of Release: 1990
Developer: Park Place Production Team
Publisher: EA Sports

The Madden NFL series is one of the longer running sports series, bringing out yearly installments since 1990 – it started in 1988, but skipped 1989.

We’ll be covering the last installment in the series (at the time of the book’s publishing) at some point, but for now we go a few steps back, to one of the first games in the series.

Our Thoughts

We don’t get American Football. We haven’t played it and what we know of it is what we’ve seen on TV and in movies (The Blind Side mostly). This is not something that would matter to us most of the time, but is relevant here. You see, most games come with a nice tutorial mode. They ease you in and show you what to do. This game, possibly due to age… doesn’t. It shows. And it overshadows a large part of the game.

I’ll admit that we didn’t start off by reading any documentation – yeah, our expectations are different – but even then, once we looked it up it didn’t help gameplay much.

While there’s some action on the field, quite a bit of the gameplay comes from the strategy setup before every play (?), where you instruct your players what to do and how to work together. It’s quite complicated and mostly incomprehensible as to what’s going on. It gets in the way.

The second step here is that the controls are a tad annoying, but that’s a matter of learning it. There’s some nice action going on, just not a lot. Although that’s where the trouble comes in.

While there’s some action, it plays for a short while before it’s interrupted. Some sort of action is taken, and you go back to the strategy bit… and then need to wait until everyone’s in place and everything is ready.

It’s boring and unclear. It might make more sense if you know the sport it attempts to simulate, but for us, it was so incomprehensible that it was boring.

Our problems with this game are not necessarily the fault of the game. As a sport American Football is difficult to shoehorn into an 16-bit gaming era. The number of plays available at each break give you a good opportunity to flex your tactical muscles but as a game it is because of these breaks that it does not flow well. However, this is an issue with the sport. I tried to sit through the Super Bowl and all the stopping and starting got tiresome so I flicked back to the screening of Sweeney Todd on Sky Movies.

Final Thoughts

Due to these inherant issues I am going to be very interested how Madden 2010 plays in comparison. My favourite sports games are fast-paced which require quick thinking and where fun and competition is central (see SSX Tricky or any game in the Pro Evolution franchise) but as a sport this may not be the case. Now ice hockey, there is a sport I am eager to try in gaming form. Come on NHL 10!.

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