The 7 lamest Madden NFL innovations

Every August, a new Madden NFL hits store shelves. And every August, people moan and wail about how similar this year’s Madden is to its previous incarnations (hey, we’re guilty of it too). But we shouldn’t, really. The truth is that the gang at EA has tried lots of innovations over the 20-plus years they’ve been making the game. We love them for it, and plenty of the added features have been great. But we’ve also seen our share of failed experiments – especially in the PS3/360 generation. This is a countdown of those “innovations” we wish would’ve stayed on the bench.

7) Fight for the Fumble (Madden 10)

Above: Only slightly preferable to actually having 15 sweaty guys who weigh 275 each lay on top of you

What it was: Madden’s attempt to replicate the mayhem that always ensues when a live ball has hit the ground – meaning whichever team recovers it gets to be on offense. It grows tiring – literally – right from the start. 

Prompted by a meter at the bottom of the screen, players had to furiously mash different buttons as players crush each other in a pile of humanity. Supposedly, the faster you mash, the better your chance at recovering the fumble.

Why it was lame: Not only is it annoying to furiously pound a variety of buttons like a madman for 30 seconds, it also felt pointless. We could be wrong, but we’d be willing to bet we’ve never successfully pulled off a change of possession that wasn’t pre-destined.

Fight for the Fumble still lives on in Madden 11 (where we turned it off immediately in the options screen), but we’re hoping it fails to make the team next season and leaves us alone.

6) Rewinds (Madden 09)

Above: “Pardon me – this is your game. I can’t help noticing you got a first down there and everything is going great. Would you like to back up and try again?”

What it was: A “do-over” button, meant to make newcomers (or long-since-left-behinders) feel a little less intimidated by the overwhelming hugeness of the game.  Throw a crushing interception on offense? Give up a long bomb touchdown pass on defense? No sweat – just press “oops” and it never happened. You just line back up and try the play again.

Why it was lame: The problem, of course, is that this fundamentally destroys any semblance of reality – which is the most important aspect of Madden. Whether you use one, two, or infinite rewinds, even the whiff of an opportunity to make your mistake disappear changes the nature of the game, and not in a way that we like. This isn’t Prince of Persia, it’s a realistic-as-possible football simulation.

What’s more, the annoying “Rewind” counter at the bottom of the screen showed up after every play. Would anyone want to re-do a 5 yard run in the first quarter? A second down incompletion early in the second half? A little situational awareness would have gone a long way ratcheting down the “OMG I HATE THIS” factor.

It’s no surprise the Rewind feature has quickly disappeared from the default options. It’s still there if you look for it, but has mercifully been tucked far away from prying eyes. It can stay there.

5) Lead Blocker Controls (Madden 07)

Above: Running with the ball = awesome. Running in front of the guy with the ball and getting pancaked by defenders so he gets the glory = Hell on Earth

What it was: You temporarily took charge of an offensive lineman or fullback for a few moments, choosing different types of blocks (straight ahead, cut block, etc.) to plow into defenders and clear a path for your ballcarrier.

Why it was lame: The reason Madden has been so successful for so long is obvious – people love to re-create their real-life heroes on screen, throwing long bombs and ripping off huge touchdown runs. Making that perfect spin or tossing a tight spiral to a receiver in tight coverage is always satisfying.

But blocking?

Let’s just say controlling a blocker isn’t nearly as entertaining as, well, anything else in the game, even on the rare occasion that you do lay out an unsuspecting linebacker. Toss in the fact that switching from the quarterback to the blocker to the running back is a rapid-button-pressing nightmare, and this decent idea turns into a mind-numbing feature we ignored after a few feeble attempts.

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  • Zels77 - November 29, 2010 7:51 a.m.

    "Reality is the most important part of Madden" !? You obviously haven't played Madden for a loooooong time, Rich.
  • Overlord153 - November 28, 2010 2:49 p.m.

    Oh how I hated the cone. It was weird because whenever I would try to play that version of madden my right eye would twitch uncontrably. And what's with all the spam it's almost two whole pages of stuff people just report.
  • Ch0doBoy - November 26, 2010 11:45 p.m.

    Idk, I personally think the franchise died after '05. That's where it was best. Like they mentions rearranging my d-line to fit the play, that was easy in 05, idk about 06 or on...cause once the cone came into play, I stopped playing. My figures are smart at inputting the buttons I want, but it became a world of confusion when all the extra BS came into play
  • revrock - November 26, 2010 7:33 p.m.

    I don't like the fact that somewhere along the line they took out our ability to do the "Madden high step" walk as we went untouched into the end zone... Somehow it slowly transformed into a random occurrence tacked onto another button command to fading out of existence. Also, the stupid touchdown celebration button mashes and wagglings (depending on your console) from '09 were the lamest innovation ever.
  • Sukharevskaya - November 26, 2010 3:21 p.m.

    No gameflow? hm, well I gotta agree with this list.
  • philipshaw - November 26, 2010 2:39 p.m.

    I forgot number 1 even existed. But I do remember how awful the vision cone was
  • xlonenobodyx - November 26, 2010 2:38 p.m.

    I agree, the series itself has just lost popularity over the years and frankly I can see it coming to an end all to soon. Let's all face it, their fan base isn't what it used to be. I love playing out football plays on a system as much as the next sports fan. But it's end is coming and fast. =/
  • NeelEvil - November 26, 2010 10:07 a.m.

    Amen to that QLev, I'd memorized the old system to the point where I could tweak everything about the defensive line before the snap. With the strategy pad I'm lucky if I can change 2 things!
  • QLev - November 26, 2010 8:39 a.m.

    Those are all bad, but the worst in my mind is the strategy pad. Maybe some people like it, but to me they just took a system that worked fine (and I had memorized for quick imput) and made it much, much worse. It used to be so quick and easy to hit the 2 buttons to adjust my d-line/linebackers, now it takes twice that... :(
  • BlackElement17 - November 26, 2010 8:33 a.m.

    Lame innovation, is that ironic or just funny?
  • Ampatent - November 26, 2010 4:53 a.m.

    I disagree, the cone was actually quite realistic. I mean honestly, most people don't play Madden with people in the same room, so the screen watching issue doesn't come up. Besides, it's far more realistic to have the quarter back's throwing ability dropped when he's throwing in the direction that he isn't looking.
  • Bloodstorm - November 26, 2010 1:19 a.m.

    The lamest thing about Madden is Madden itself. I live not 30 minutes from EA Tibron and I want to go in there and tell them all the time how much they suck at making games.
  • Cyberninja - November 26, 2010 1:13 a.m.

    i remember last year i at christmas me and my bro were playing madden 09 and we kept screwing each other over with the replay it really wasnt fair so i am glad they took it out
  • Dabenguin - November 25, 2010 11:29 p.m.

    I do remember a form of rewinds in an early version of Madden. They were called Mulligans.
  • SVC5 - November 25, 2010 11:21 p.m.

    Lol you guessed it I was surprised the cone wasn't number one.
  • ventanger - November 25, 2010 11 p.m.

    Oh my god, I never even heard of #1... that's... so bad. Making your "gaming championship ring" is to fantasy football as wearing your "Doug of the Forest Rangers" costume in public is to LARPing.
  • Jessup - November 25, 2010 10:45 p.m.

    I think you're forgetting the best one of all. I think it was the 92 or 93 version, where if a player was injured, the ambulance would drive on to the field and flatten any player that happened to be in the way.
  • skyfire56 - November 25, 2010 10:35 p.m.

    You also forgot Gameflow, Ultimate Team, Madden Moments with wrong rosters, Swagger Rating...Ugh the entire series has turned into a gimmick... I hope EA just calls it quits with Madden and give the license to 2k.
  • bongzilla - November 25, 2010 10 p.m.

    Yea that extra point show was lame.. I always thought sports games should have something like that, but when Madden did it, it just was too lame and short and I just ended up skipping everytime.. The rewinds I do use, cause I always have 2 seasons or franchises going at the same time.. 1 I use an all-star team, where I trade for great player and put them on 1 team, thats where I use the rewinds, cause its just for me to fuckk around. The other one where I bump up the difficulty and use the real roster of teams, I don't use the rewinds. So I'm cool with them..
  • bron1417 - November 25, 2010 9:45 p.m.

    if EA wants to make "The Extra Point" show better they need to take cues from NFL 2K5. that would make it amazing in my mind anyway.