Review: Madden NFL Arcade
Developer: EA Tiburon
Release Date: November 24th, 2009
What I liked:
- Conceptually a good idea, with a nice online featureset.
- Trophies for the most part are easy to get and reward you for playing well.
What I disliked:
- Too simplistic for it’s own good, and can get boring fairly quickly.
- Not even in the same league as Blitz, still the king of arcade football.
- Not really justifiable $5 price hike from NHL Arcade, as it has the same limited set of modes and options.
When I heard about Madden Arcade, I pumped my fist in the air and couldn’t wait for the release. My all time favorite sports game is still Blitz (even the more recent Blitz II: The League wasn’t all that bad) and NHL Arcade ranks as one of the most fun local multiplayer games you can download on both consoles.
Madden Arcade retains a few of NHL’s “Arcade” features such as power-ups and presentation, but lacks any enthusiasm or drive to be a truly great experience. Pick your team, get a touchdown in four plays with no first downs, and then turn over the ball. There’s no time limit, no quarters, no punting, no play selections, nothing. Now I can appreciate that they’re trying to streamline Madden NFL Arcade with no play selection (you choose from four different generic plays like “Deep Pass” and “Blitz” but no play outline) but it doesn’t really add anything to the gameplay. Once you finish a game, you go back to the main menu and start another game – there’s no season mode of any kind here, or even a tournament mode. If EA insists on hiking the price up to $15 from their last Arcade venture, at least give me a few extra features along with it.
The style of the game seems all wrong to me, with lanky arms and big torsos. There’s no announcer at all (which really detracts from the atmosphere) and the game speed seems too slow to me. [Editors Note: There are also no custom soundtracks. The in-game music gets boring really quick.] There’s a powerup called Turbo that increases the game speed 2x, and the game felt much better to play. Had they kept the game slightly slower than Turbo speed it would have probably held my interest a bit more.
Speaking of the powerups, they’re all pretty good save one, such as “Entourage” giving you extra players and “Frostbite” freezing up an opponent’s player. And then there’s “Flip Flop” which immediately switches both team’s scores with each other. I’m trying to figure out how on earth that is fun, in any possible way. “Haw, I almost won the game till that other team switched the scores on me and scored the winning touchdown! Man that was great! Haw haw!” No, it isn’t great. It’s akin to grabbing your friend’s controller, punching him in the face, and declaring yourself the champion because you’re now controlling the team with the winning score (why not have a powerup instead that takes the two scores, averages them, and resets both player’s scores to that amount? “Even the Playing Field” or something.) You can turn off these “Game Changers” if you want, but you can’t pick and choose which ones you want to keep – it’s all or nothing.
If you have some young kids who don’t quite understand football, I think Madden Arcade would be a pretty fun introduction. For anyone else, save your cash and pick up a cheap copy of Blitz II if you really want an extreme arcade football fix. A really cheap copy.