In gaming, August goes hand-in-hand with the arrival of a new Madden game. It's the time of year that signals the upcoming end of a typically long summer drought in major retail releases. Madden 11 is upon us. To mark the occasion, we decided to chronicle some of the biggest milestones throughout Madden's storied past.
A lot has come and gone since 1988's John Madden Football (EA's football debut) on the Apple II - competitors, consoles and misguided additions alike. EA has had its share of successes, as well as some failures over the years - such as the quarterback vision mechanic, Madden IQ test and player weapons. We'll focus on what truly advanced the franchise and has stood the test of time.
- Superstar Mode
First Appearance: Madden NFL 06
The introduction of Superstar mode was one of the biggest additions to Madden's campaign since Franchise mode. It placed players in the shoes of a prospective football player looking to hit the big time - taking part in the draft, interviews, training, and everything else that comes with being a star athlete. Superstar also allowed players to learn the intricacies of a specific position on the field. The idea Madden helped pioneer, alongside NCAA Football, has been overwhelmingly adopted by other sports games.
- Franchise Mode
First Appearance: Madden NFL '99
Madden NFL '99 represented a major leap forward for the series with the introduction of Franchise mode. Until that point, Madden games had been about simply playing a single match against friends or the AI. Franchise mode gave players their first taste of a campaign in Madden, which amounted to building a dominant team over multiple seasons through trading, draft picks and training. Madden wasn't the first to try something along these lines, far from it, but Franchise mode took the concept of football strategy to another level, one that comprises a large portion of the game today.
- Online Play
First Appearance: Madden NFL 2003
Online play has transformed every aspect and genre of the gaming industry, Madden included. When competitive online finally reached Madden in 2002, players were overjoyed at the ease of connection with friends, and increased competition that it provided. Madden's online offering has slowly grown since that time, gradually getting ready to support full online league play. Now if only EA would keep the servers running for the old games after the latest installment has been released.
- NFL Licensing
First Appearance: Madden NFL '94 / '95
It's hard to imagine Madden without the National Football League closely attached, but that was the case from the series' inception until the mid-90s. EA's deals to secure the NFL team license for '94 and the players for '95 represented the beginning of a process that would ultimately make Madden synonymous with the NFL. The coaches followed suite for Madden NFL 2001, and in 2005 EA secured the exclusive rights to all NFL licensing, thereby devastating the competition. Today, Madden is defined as much by the NFL as it's mechanics, if not more.
- Vertical Field Perspective
First Appearance: John Madden Football [SEGA Genesis, 1990]
Some of Madden's biggest achievements throughout its history may not be original concepts, but arguably the most important innovation that forever changed football gaming can be attributed to Madden, the vertical field perspective. Football games were played from a side view of the field until John Madden Football was released in 1990 on the SEGA Genesis. This simple innovation allowed players to easily see the entire field, and allowed the game to communicate more information on the leftover space. The vertical field perspective is the core foundation of all football games today.
Stay tuned for our review of Madden NFL 11 in the coming days.