This Sunday is “the big game” as we’re supposed to call it: Matthew Stafford and Joe Burrow will face off in an effort to bring their respective franchises their first championship this century.
Why am I talking about a sporting event on a video game website? Well, because I’m a nerd of multiple facets, and it’s providing some topical context for today’s discussion!
The Madden franchise spans over three decades with 40 installments total. It’s one of the most enduring and consistent video game series in terms of regularity of release. Through those releases there have been hundreds of innovations made. And with Super Bowl 56 (don’t ask me to learn roman numerals) kicking off this Sunday, let’s look back on the evolution of the franchise named for the late-great John Madden.
Madden wasn’t always the roster update copy-paste game it appears to be today, as it evolved nearly every year. 1995’s Madden NFL ’96 introduced “Create-A-Player,” which let gamers put their own creations directly into the game. Some Madden games would put players on the cover as a wink to a feature they added, such as when Madden 2005 added the “Hit Stick” with linebacker Ray Lewis on the cover. Madden NFL 06’s “Superstar Mode” allowed users to focus on a single player’s NFL journey. “Ultimate Team” debuted in Madden NFL 10, and combined deck building with the standard sports gameplay. Then, there’s the quite literal game-changer that is “Franchise Mode,” which honestly goes without mentioning.
The 90s Madden titles are also filled with massive–but mostly cosmetic–innovations like NFL licensed team names, player names, and cover athletes. Arguably the biggest change came with Madden NFL ’99, which introduced 3D players for the very first time.
Extrapolating from Metacritic scores, the peak of the series was in the early 2000s, with every game from Madden 2001 to Madden NFL 06 scoring in the 90s or high-80s. It was a time when 3D models in sports began to take shape and move a lot smoother. I think it’s safe to say this is my favorite era of Madden, but it’s hard to overlook the massive changes made in the decade prior.
So what Madden feature is integral to your enjoyment of the game? The hit stick? Franchise mode? The player on the cover? Let us know what you think in the comments below or on the Boss Rush Discord server.
Source: Wallpaper Abyss