Coming from a line of somewhat less ambitious handheld football games, the DS version of Madden 09 wasn’t starting from such a strong position as the Wii edition. That’s probably a good thing, as there’s clearly more room for improvement with this one, but it’s immediately obvious that Madden on DS doesn’t benefit from the same production values as its console cousins.
Other than a few minor bug fixes and some reshuffling of the menus, there’s very little in the 09 version to distinguish it from last year’s game. It’s maybe a little harder to score with the massive Hail Mary passes that have long been our secret weapon in previous Maddens, and the AI defence can be quite brutal even on the lower difficulty settings. Otherwise, it’s business as usual. There’s a paper football minigame and some smooth graphics that the devs show off via unskippable pre-game animations.
This year’s new minigame is a memory test where you get shown a play on the chalkboard, the movement lines are rubbed out and you have to draw them back in before the timer runs out. Given that the Wii version allows you to draw plays directly on the field with the remote, it’s strange that this feature should be included on DS but relegated to a sideshow. There’s still no way to design your own playbook, despite the DS having the perfect tool for it built in. So the only real selling point for Madden 09 is the inclusion of this year’s stats – and the inclusion of a cover star who retired, changed his mind and got transferred to another team doesn’t give us much confidence about their accuracy, especially without the option to download updates. You might as well stick with 08 or 07, if you’ve got them.
Sep 29, 2008