Monday, September 22, 2014

Madden NFL: SNES Evolution

Today, the Madden National Football League games are some of the most blisteringly fast, gorgeously rendered and generally most enjoyable sports titles around. One might be mistaken for thinking such a series had its foundations in the noughties, where the explosion in 3d processing power and good quality controllers resulted in an enormous glut of new sports titles, all taking advantage of the various innovations; you’d be wrong though! The Madden NFL series has its roots in the Super Nintendo gaming system, however.

In 1991, John Madden Football (the series dropped its endorser, Madden’s, first name in 1994) was released on the SNES and Sega Genesis; the second iteration of the sports title, but the first truly effective show of what the game could do. The first, MS DOS based, title was lag-ridden, unresponsive and had been beset with development issues from the outset. Madden had refused to put his name to a game that was not a true depiction of his game, which meant coding in the ability to play with eleven players on each team; many systems simply were unable to deliver this number of players.

Alongside this number of team members, Madden and the developers wanted the most realistic, true-to-life depiction of the game as possible. This meant including every rule, strategy, pass and play that Madden could inform the developers of, and as a result the finished product shared more with a betting simulator than a video game, a title that would be more at home at than Peach’s Castle. Unsurprisingly, however, this realism ultimately paid off.

The Super Nintendo Version garnered enormous praise, receiving a 95% score from Computer and Video Games Magazine, reviewers noting the excellent sound and realism endemic in the title. The developers, under the watch of EA Sports, knew they were on to something, and the follow up title, John Madden Football ’93, was a roaring success. With an all new 2 player mode; detailed, intricate animations; and game play that was smoother and faster than previous titles, Madden was solidified as a heavyweight when it came to console game franchises.

Remember when Pro Evolution Soccer used to only afford gamers the chance to play with fake players? David Bleckhem, Robaldo, Michel Owan? Madden was the same, once upon a time, until 1994, that is. With huge sales figures and a loyal fan base, the NFL was easily persuaded to allow their league’s team licenses to be used in the game, and with this a huge leap in realism occurred, entertaining players and pundits alike.

The Madden series continued on the SNES until 1997, when the final SNES title, Madden NLF 98, was released. The game had still yet to turn stale, however, with EGM rating the title a solid 9 out of 10. The Madden series truly honed its craft on the SNES, and continues to be a premier game to this day!

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