Sunday, July 01, 2007

SGM Super 30: Video Game #6

Madden 2006

I have never played a Madden game. But, I still got some opinions, here.

Rev. Joshua:
played a lot on the Madden franchise on Sega Genesis, back when Sega was the undisputed home of sports video games. With the more recent systems I've been more of a fan of college football, although that mirrors my personal interests more than any changes about the games. The main criticism about sports games tends to be the roster update aspect, but EA usually adds a few enhancements to the gameplay from year to year that makes that criticism somewhat lacking.

The John Madden franchise of American football video games is, simply put, the most successful sports video game franchise in history. Back in the Super Nintendo/Sega Genesis daysSomeone at Electronic Arts had the foresight to sign Madden, and use NFL teams, logos, and player names. The realism gave the titles a bit more than the standard football games like Tecmo Bowl (or any sports game for that matter). As technology changed, game developers worked to add more realism and continually update the gameplay. This has kept gamers loyal to Madden for nearly two decades.

The premise is simple. You are the coach of an NFL team. You call plays, you control players, and you manage your franchise to the Super Bowl. The game also includes a number of unlockable features, such as historical teams and "stat boosts" to give your team the edge in head-to-head competition. This increases the replay factor and keeps gamers happy until next year's edition comes out. The addition of online features keeps the rosters updated, which is a very nice feature.

Madden, it should be noted, is also the John D. Rockefeller of sports titles. A few years ago, a series of games was released under the ESPN logo. Their NFL game, surprisingly, had a much better style of gameplay than Madden. The passing engine allowed for more freedom of audibles and more control over the ball speed and targets. Rather than face the competition, Madden struck a deal with the NFL Players Association to be the exclusive home of roster updates. Remember that realism in the first paragraph? Yeah, its still important.

Madden has become a cultural phenomenon. Last year, MTV ran a pretty crappy TV show (which goes without saying) where people rode around in a bus playing Madden. You also have the whole Madden curse deal where, supposedly, the player who appears on the box cover has a terrible season. This is proven with the example of Michael "Ron Mexico" Vick. The superstar quarterback of the Falcons looked to be on top of the world until he made it to the Madden cover for the 2004 edition. Shortly thereafter, Vick began treatment for herpes at a clinic under the name "Ron Mexico." Mexico went from being a dominant quarterback to an also-ran. Reports are unclear, but it is possible that the Madden curse could have driven Mexico to pursuing the illegal hobby of dogfighting.

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