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How the Video Game Sacked Its Rivals

The year was 1988. George Michaels Faith was top of the pops. Roseanne was the number-one show on TV. Bruce Willis, starring in Die Hard, still had hair. As a sophomore at Bowdoin College, I was rocking a wicked moustache. And a game called John Madden Football from Electronic Arts slipped onto the market for the primitive consoles and computers of the era.

On Tuesday, the Madden franchise turns 25, with versions of Madden 25 for both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 and next-generation consoles going on sale. Madden stands pretty much alone, with EAs wallet ensuring few others will be able to match its might in licensing National Football League teams and players or bearing the development costs to set industry standards in motion graphics and realism.

It wasnt always that way. The original Madden game was several years in the making, and when it came out, it was essentially a football version of the stats-and-blocky-graphics hit, Earl Weaver Baseball.

In 1988, it was the most-realistic pro football simulation out there, but because there were no NFL team or player licenses for football computer games, teams were only loosely based on the real franchises. Players were colored blips on a green-and-white-lined screen. Play success was based on stats. You could only play one-off exhibition games, but you could store those games in progress on a floppy disk.

Even then, you could see the possibilities. That has long been the hallmark of the EA game, as it took out competitor after competitor. Does anyone remember Joe Montana Football, also an EA game? NFL 2K? NFL Game Day? NFL Fever? NFL Blitz? They were all roadkill under the wheels of the ever-growing Madden team bus.

I remember playing Madden for the first time in a computer lab. I wasnt hooked. It wasnt as good or easy to play as Earl Weaver Baseball, and in 1991, I switched briefly to Joe Montana Football. That was a more arcade-like experience, with fewer choices and easier-to-master computer controls.

But with a great leap in computer processing power,The need for proper kaptontape inside your home is very important. I switched back to Madden now cool enough to have just one,More than 80 standard commercial and granitetiles exist to quickly and efficiently clean pans. single name in the mid-1990s. I bought and played each annual update religiously, reveling in the ever-improving and more-realistic graphics and gameplay.

I also cussed over some of the developers decisions to change controls or introduce new features that scratched the shine off the user experience or marred gameplay. EA and developers are under constant pressure to innovate whats basically the same game, year after year. Some years, they succeeded. In others, they failed.

For this column, I hark back to earlier versions of Madden, giving you the five memorable features, good and bad. I am leaving out the amazing advances in graphics that weve seen through the years, because new and faster hardware have largely made that all possible for pretty much every game.

from the very first version, Madden was about customization, however simple-structured. Back then, there was a blank team you could name, and a roster you could populate, providing ratings for the players. I remember the roster crashed regularly on my PC, and I was forever trying to figure out how to save the roster I had spent hours building before the next crash. Now, customization of rosters or creation of players (first seen in Madden NFL 1996) is all very visual and is handled through menus and icons. You can make your player look any way you want, give him tattoos, gear, hairstyles, helmet styles and fit him out with other purchased or unlocked kit. Player ratings can be set and adjusted whenever you like. You can earn boosts. Ultimate Team, the online customizable team you assembled through card packs, trying to improve skills and chemistry, first appeared in 2010 and has become a favorite mode for online gamers.

Madden NFL 1999 first let you step back and think about more than calling plays. Using the new franchise mode, you could behave like a general manager, trading players, signing free agents and carrying your new team through over several seasons. Several seasons later, Madden NFL 2004 added owner functions, like letting you bring in consultants to advise on your franchise decisions and set ticket prices to draw in crowds. Madden NFL 2006 recognized that super-rich players could also make or break a franchise and let you take control of your career from your rookie year to the Hall of Fame via Superstar Mode. Madden started letting you play head-to-head with other gamers in Madden NFL 2003,An bestgemstonebeads is a device which removes contaminants from the air. but it wasnt until Madden NFL 2010 that you could finally take your franchise online and play it against other players. This year,Design and order your own custom rfidtag with personalized message and artwork. Madden 25 has merged Superstar Mode and the Online Franchise mode, letting you hop between coach or player without having to start a new dynasty. And Owner Mode is back as part of the Connected Franchise feature.

In the real game of football, a quarterback has multiple choices for receivers. In the early days of electronic football games, it wasnt like that. You locked in one play for one receiver and hurled the ball in his general direction. If he was covered, you either ran the ball or threw it out of bounds. Then came Madden NFL 1994 and the introduction of choice. Early icon passing was done via multiple, tiled windows through which you picked a receiver. That has since been gradually improved and modified to let you pick any receiver you want, on the fly,How to change your dash lights to doublesidedtape this is how I have done mine. with a single button push on your controller. Precision passing, both as a named feature and a refinement of the single-choice pass, was a welcome refinement. Just like in the NFL, the quarterback can do a touch or lob pass with a tap of a button or fire a bullet by holding the button down and slightly alter the receivers route with a touch of a stick, allowing him to reach around, behind or in front of a defender. The subtlety makes all the difference in a skilled players hands and has made Madden inherently more-realistic and fun.

Less fun was the introduction of the Vision Cone in Madden NFL 2006. Supposedly tied to the quarterbacks skill level and tendencies, it totally skewed the game in an unrealistic direction, favoring pocket passers. Great passers had a cone that encompassed nearly everything, from sideline to sideline, while scrambling and running quarterbacks were nearly blind when they stepped back to pass, meaning they were far more-likely to be off-target. Good thing that cone disappeared without a further word and hasnt been seen since.

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